I've volunteered in countless disasters across the years, but have never been asked to help out inside a government hospital during a disaster.
Late in the evening this week, we delivered a seriously injured patient to the St. Anthony Hospital in Jeremie. As we drove up, we could see dozens of sick and injured crowded around the hospital entrance, hoping to be allowed in. On arrival, we explained to the triage nurse that we were with Heart to Heart International, and she told us to bring the patient right in.
Carrying the stretcher into the Emergency Room, we entered a hellish scene reminiscent of the ER's I had staffed during the Iraq War. Patients filled every bed, with many more lying on the ground. No beds were available. We had no choice but to lower our stretcher onto the middle of the floor, where the staff simply stepped over and around him as they tended to the wounded.
When the hospital's head ER doctor found out I was a doctor, she asked me what kind. I told her I was an Emergency doctor, or, in their terminology, a trauma doctor.
"You're a Trauma Doctor?" Her eyes brightened. "Can you help us with some patients?"
"Sure! Of course," I responded.
A nurse handed me a pair of surgical gloves, and I was off to work. I made rounds with the Haitian doctors, examining and consulting on their most serious patients. Two of the patients had severe head injuries, and were unconscious. As we discussed options for treatment, I realized how knowledgeable, well-trained, and capable they were.
And then I found out they were volunteers, too, who had come from Port-au-Prince to serve after the hurricane! WOW! Haitians serving Haitians---what an inspiring example of the "Power of Serving Others!" That's the core mission of Heart to Heart---inspiring and mobilizing people to serve wherever there are people in need.
Whether we serve in our own communities or across the country or across an ocean, our life's purpose is fulfilled when we serve others!
Thank God for people who care, particularly for the many Haitians who are serving the needs of their own countrymen!
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