Monday, December 06, 2010

Canadian health workers describe the Haitian cholera outbreak

Some health officials fear that we have yet to see the worst of the cholera outbreak. Cholera has not spread into City Soleil one of the poorest cities of Haiti. The fear is that cholera could spread quickly through the densely populated city.

From the Winnipeg Free Press, Canadian Press writer Bill Graveland interviews a team of helath workers on their experiences in treating the cholera outbreak.

There's a permanent smell of bleach at the cholera treatment centre in Bercy, Haiti, where doctors and nurses, many of them Canadian, attempt to provide medical aid for those who are still paying the price from January's devastating earthquake.

The tents at the 180-patient centre, run by Samaritan's Purse, are crammed with rows of Haitians lying quietly on makeshift cots, suffering from a cholera epidemic that experts predict is only going to get worse.

The alternative to the smell of bleach could be much worse considering the dirt floors are often covered with the vomit and diarrhea from patients who flock to the centre and others like it run by aid organizations in the island nation.

"I'm wearing my rubber boots and you are constantly in vomit and diarrhea," said Dr. Jeff Way of Calgary, who returned from a one-week tour at the centre last month along with his wife Mary Ann, who is a registered nurse.

"They hired local people to come around with big insecticide spray tanks filled with Clorox bleach and they are constantly spraying that on the ground," he added.

"We're going to smell like bleach for a long time," said Mary Ann.

"When they have their diarrhea and vomiting it is like someone has turned on a tap or a fountain," she told The Canadian Press. "I have never seen anything like it before in my life — how much fluid some of these guys could put out — two or three litres of fluid in one episode of diarrhea and vomiting."

Way said kneeling on the ground, especially with limited light during the night shift, proved to be an additional challenge when it came to putting in IVs because often the patient's veins have collapsed.

"We've had to pray them in."

1 comment:

Eric, CURE International said...

This is truly sad to read. The people of Haiti, and also the relief workers and supporters, have been through quite a lot over the last year. We certainly need to continue praying for healing as the outbreak spreads. Thank you for keeping us up to date!