Post-Operative Care Critical to Injured Haitians

by Anne Edgerton
ChildFund Disaster Management Team Leader

Anne continues work in Haiti, collaborating with CBM, ChildFund’s partner on the ground.

There is so much work still to do here.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of accompanying one of the physiotherapists who has come to work with CBM after the earthquake. David, 23, from England, holds a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy.

I watch David handle patients carefully, telling them quietly which exercises to do. The women in this ward repeat his instructions in English after David works with them. “Eat, drink, exercise!” they say with smiles. Yet, many of the women relate horrible stories, especially of the number of days it took to get treatment. But they are grateful to have received treatment at all.

Gloria, 26, tells me: “We are so grateful to the foreigners who come here. It is so nice that you are here. Thank you.” She waited eight days to see a doctor for her injuries. In this medical rehabilitation area, Gloria rests in a handmade traction kit, which David verifies is hanging correctly. Gloria is a new patient, transferred to this NGO rehabilitation space from an overloaded hospital that lacks time, staff and space to care for post-operative patients.

After studying Gloria’s X-rays, David suddenly turns to the interpreter: “What did you say — that the doctor told her she can start walking?”

David reads Gloria's X-ray.

David points out to me the fracture in Gloria’s pelvis. Two X-rays, taken three weeks apart, show that the bones are not setting properly. David says that she should not move at all, not for a while. He tells me that he needs the doctor to reinforce his instructions, as Gloria might not stay in bed if a doctor has said otherwise.

A physician is located and David shows him what he’s spotted on the X-ray. “Ah, good catch,” the doctor says, “I didn’t see that.” The doctor instructs Gloria not to walk, and to obey all instructions that David gives her.

Gloria smiles at me, “Eat, drink, exercise!” she says. The walking will have to wait, but she will heal properly with this kind of care.

Every day more patients arrive at the 12 rehabilitation areas where CBM and Handicap International have arranged for physical and occupational therapists like David to assist with the overwhelming demand.

Rest now, walk later.

Rest now, walk later.

This is David’s first emergency response. “Haitians seem so unified in helping one another; I didn’t expect this,” he says. “But everyone seems to be doing what they can to help one another.”

To support ChildFund’s partnership with CBM in Haiti, click here. Contributions made no later than Feb. 28, 2010, can be deducted from 2009 tax returns.

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