Posted: August 13, 2010 in Uncategorized
It’s near to 11:00 PM and most people are home in bed.  In my
exaggerated thinking of the moment I feel like only scoundrels and
midwives are out in Haiti this time of night.  Here I am doing another
transport after a 24 hour labor and delivery effort that ended in no
delivery.    When a c/section looms our choices are limited.  The small
hospital with no doctor or the huge hospital with few doctors and
hundreds of women.  I chose the later.
Carline is 18, single, sweet and eager to please.  Although exhausted
she responded to our every suggestion and was totally cooperative for
two full days.  She sat defeated when we explained our findings  but she
understood only one thing – we meant transport.  She cried.  We cried.
In the rainy dark we loaded up my car.  Two guards, one grandma, a
nurse, a cousin, the mom-to-be and me.  Off we went.  The empty streets
were full of puddles, trash and the occasional group of people brave
enough to be out this late.  I speed past Cite Soleil.  I enjoy the
speed, the lack of traffic jam, the empty streets.  I hate the reason I
am on them.
I’ve been to this hospital twice before, I am prepared.  I’ve even made
an acquaintance of  one of the doctors shaking my head in understanding
as he told me how overcrowded they are.  I can see that.
If I thought last time was crowded tonight seemed doubled.   Laboring
women were everywhere.  On benches, lying on the floor, on beds, walking
about, yelling, crying, screaming and moaning.   Every hallway had
laboring women on the floor.  Blood spots here and there.  Trash all
around.  The new doctor I meet tells me yes, he agrees, our gal probably
will need a c/section but she has to wait in line.  There are several
before her.  I’m now moaning along with the laboring women.
I’m filled with disappointment, guilt and frustration as I leave this
teenager here.  Due to government legalities I am not allowed to stay
and help.  My heart is sick.  The doctor doesn’t want one more patient
and I don’t want to leave our patient here.
We drive home in silence.    Once again I am defeated by the inability
to provide a woman with a safe birth.    A woman we have cared for for
months.  She knows us, she trusts us, she believed we would help her
through this birth experience and now I find that we are not able to
finish the job.  We are a maternity center and not a hospital.  We can
only handle normal births.  Explain this to a frightened 18 year old who
is staring at the multitude of swollen bellies, sweat, urine, vomit,
blood and amniotic fluid all around her.
We clean up our fluids quickly, we give Gatorade with a straw, we wipe
foreheads with cool cloths, we hug, we check on baby and mom
continuously.  Not so in this hospital for the poor.
I’m not blaming the overworked staff.  The residents are doing their
jobs under terrible circumstances.  Foreign groups are making huge
efforts at the free hospitals to make a difference.
It is not enough.  The conditions are like out of an old horror movie
but it is all too real.  Too real for Carline.  Too real for all the
women that have to go there because they don’t have money to go anywhere
else.  Somehow they come out with a baby.  Most of the time.
This is not acceptable for our transports.  The women entrusted to our
care should not end up in overcrowded hospitals with broken equipment
and filthy conditions if they need more care than we can give.
Heartline is committed to building a 20 bed hospital.  We need safe
deliveries, safe surgeries and quality postpartum care.  Every transport
nightmare reinforces to me how important this is.   Just ask Carline.
Beth McHoul


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