Friday, February 19, 2010

Haiti is not Hell

Yesterday I went to a meeting with Senator Johanns and two other groups who had also been in Haiti.  During the meeting one of the attendees made the comment that where they were on the Dominican side of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic was Hell.  I remember thinking to myself that not once did I think of describing Haiti that way.  Despite the fact that downtown Port-au-Prince looked as if a bomb had exploded, despite all the dead and wounded amputees, and despite all the chaos, I never thought to myself, "I'm in Hell."  I have seen nothing worse in my life than the sites I encountered in Haiti, and I still wouldn't qualify Haiti as "Hell on earth" because to me, Hell is a place devoid of all hope. And Haiti, albeit crippled, is a place full of hope, full of promise, full of gratitude for the help received thus far, and full of beautiful people.
But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish. Psa 9:18

Saturday, February 13, 2010

30 days since the quake marked by 3 days of national mourning

It's been 30 days, and my thoughts are with the patients who left indelible marks upon my heart and the millions who have been affected by the quake and the resulting situation. The little girl I so wanted to bring back to the States with me. The older girl, only 15, who really did think I was her mother every time I gave her ketamine to change her dressings. She would want me to rub her face and hold her hand. So I did. Just like the mother she lost would have. For the girls who no longer have mothers, I cry. For the boys who lost their fathers, I pray. And for the nation that lost so much, I hope.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pushups for Haiti on Friday

Please sponsor one of several awesome UNMC employees who will be doing pushups in the DOC on Friday to raise funds for the Haiti relief fund (

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The irony of donations

For each and every donation we were thankful. It was amazing to me what people thought to donate. For example I would never have thought about adult diapers or pop tarts. We had every kind of item one would need to take care of infants from diapers to formula to scalp IV sets. And we had all sorts of pain medications from morphine to percocet to demerol to dilaudid, for which I was extremely thankful to be able to dispense. And in the OR we had our choice of isofluorane or halothane for those few cases where we intubated and used an inhalation anesthetic. But what struck me most was the abundance of propofol in the midst of a national shortage in the United States. I was sure we had more propofol in our hospital than the supply that existed in the entire city of Omaha. And the irony of that fact is that we used very little of it due to the lack of a supply of oxygen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pedal to support Haiti on Feb. 12

Pedal to support Haiti on Feb. 12


On Feb. 12, Prairie Life Fitness Center at Midtown Crossing will host "Strength for Haiti," an indoor cycling challenge that will raise money for the UNMC Haitian Relief and Outreach Fund.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Volunteer: Haiti needs supplies and continued support

Bryan Bader, a trauma nurse from The Nebraska Medical Center, was among 13 members of UNMC's first volunteer deployment to Haiti.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My 1st day in the OR

My first day in the OR was actually Wednesday, 27th January,my absolutely most stressful day of work in Haiti. The call for help in OR came around 1040 am. Although not unexpected, it couldn't have come at a worse time. At 1100 am, Joe Lupo, the other anesthesiologist on the wound care team, was due to go outside to help the French with their wound care rounds in the makeshift stepdown unit they were running in tents outside the hospital.

Patients ended up in the OR through many different channels. Either by triage because they were trauma, by the wound care team for I&D or stump/wound revision, or directly by surgeons upon review of their radiographs. Whatever the route, they all end up with a piece of tape on their heads like the patient pictured, who had 6 fractures in both arms that needed to be repaired (pictured). She was made nothing by mouth the night before surgery and scheduled for open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) on the 27th. I had actually met her on wound care rounds on Monday, but the first opening on the schedule was Wednesday.
So I show up outside the ORs to meet my team: two surgeons who literally arrived at the hospital an hour prior to our meeting, and two nursing students who were to be our scrub tech and circulator who had never been inside an OR before or learned about sterile technique. I could tell this was going to be a long, long, day, because little did the surgeons know this was literally a find it yourself, sterilize it yourself, light it yourself, and do it yourself operation we were running. It was going to take them forever to find all their instruments and supplies, and I knew it was going to be a really long day when they asked for suction and overhead lights.

In effect, I became part scrub tech and circulator in addition to anesthesiologist at the start of this case. The suctuion I couldn't help them with since the only working suction we had was being used in another OR. It would have been nice to have though because her surgery did become a bloody mess. Our nursing students probably thought they had drawn the really short straw, as they became our light holders on top of a folding chair.

For my part I had an anesthesia machine I had no idea how to use (pictured). I tried hooking the oxygen tank up to the back of it since I did have a circuit and a mask I could use if her sats dropped but never did figure out how to get the oxygen to run through the machine. So in effect, I was left with a portable sat monitor (pictured) which only worked half the time since it was precariously perched on her ear (both hands not available to me), and a blood pressure machine.

Since I was doing a ketamine/versed general I was comfortable enough with what I had, but when I lost my sats and could no longer get pressures frm her right leg I had to resort to my hand over her mouth with my fingers on her carotid and my eyes on my watch while counting her pulse and respirations. Definitely not my most comfortable moments since I wasn't sure if loss of sats and pressure meant her pressure was dangerously low or she was cold and the cuff just wasn't working well.

Overall the case went well. I didn't really find anything all that shocking. However, I was rather alarmed by my options for sharps disposal. If you look closely in the picture of stuff on th floor, you will see there are three sharps containers--one big red one that most would properly identify, one small red one with no top full of all kinds of bloody needles and glass ripe for someone to fall on top of, and finally, one old clorox jug that was not marked sharps in English, French, or Creole. Besides the obvious regarding the open sharps box, I did ponder how all the sharps containers were being disposed of.

We dropped the woman off in PACU, and off I went to help Kurt, the nurse anesthetist, with a spinal for the c-section. And we all already know how the night went from there...

Danielle Dohrmann reflects on her Haiti experience

Volunteers return from Haiti

Monday, February 1, 2010

The work continues...and so does this blog

Please keep visiting this blog for daily updates, including guest spots, particularly from Nick Hall, a nurse at UNMC, who is still in Haiti for the next two weeks working in the Medishare tent. Also planned are updates from other doctors and nurses who are also still there as well as viewpoints from team members who returned this weekend.

I also have many entries from last thurs thru sat that have yet to be posted. So stay tuned, and spread the word so that our work in Haiti continues to be supported.

Finally, thank you for your support and prayers for our team and the people of Haiti.

UNMC Doctor Returns From Haiti

This is the clip in which I gave wrong information. There are more amputees in Haiti due to the earthquake than there were American amputees in WWI (approx 2600), not WWII (approx 15,000).

Med Center Doctors Return From Haiti

Action 3 news story: Omaha doctors return from Haiti

Interview with Action 3 news.

Correction: I think I told reporters that there are more amputees due to this tragedy than there were in World War II. That is incorrect. More amputations have been performed in Haiti in the last two and a half weeks than were performed on American soldiers in World War I (approx. 2650).