| Oct 25, 2010
Haiti is on central time (2 hours ahead of PST) even though it falls in the Atlantic zone (4 hours ahead of PST). This makes for a relatively “early” sunrise (5ish) and sunset (6ish). I took advantage of the early sunrise this morning and wandered along a path from our house to reach the local river. Here, residents use the river for doing their washing, bathing or even cleaning of their motor bikes.
The road continued on to the other side of the river without the benefit of a bridge, so people just took off their shoes and waded across or if luckier, got a lift on someone’s back. It is hot by 8 AM, so walking in the relative coolness was a nice change.
This week, I will be the only licensed Physical Therapist in the clinic as the other two PTs scheduled this week were delayed with their arrival not for another 10 days. As expected, we were kept busy! Patients were already waiting when we arrived and we had a steady flow all day long. I had the solid and knowing support of Carolyn, the Pre-PT student/Rehab Aide and Sanno, the interpreter/Rehab Aide. I rotated around the clinic to those that needed specific PT interventions, assessments or plans of care development and directed the others in their work. In all, we saw 2-3 times what I would have seen back home in the same time, including five new patients. Somehow, we got through it all! I don’t think I will ever complain of being “too busy” back home (note to current or future bosses reading this, don’t hold me to this :) )
We found the energy to see and help all of these patients. Perhaps a motivating force in itself was the knowledge that if they did not get help from us, there was no one else available and their outcome would have been compromised.
One of the patients we helped today was a 25-year-old with a shortened tibia (leg bone) fracture, resulting from misalignment in healing from the earthquake. He had a 2-3” leg length discrepancy, making it difficult for him to walk without severe compensation. The prosthetist was able to build-up his shoe so that he could have much a more functional ambulation.
Another patient we helped, a 35-year-old policeman, developed a severe joint contracture after falling from a building during the earthquake, sustaining a complex femur (thigh bone) and knee joint fracture. He had recently been seen by the surgeon who had broken up scar tissue and removed “pins” which had restricted his motion, but without therapy soon after the procedure, he would have been back to having a “frozen” and limited functioning knee for his lifetime.
Another younger patient had been plaster “casted” for a month with a simple knee strain, again weakened, contractured and unable to return to work as a farmer without some therapy intervention. In all, we were tired at the end of the day, but feeling invigorated that we were providing some critical services.