Read about Ali Gorman's mission to Haiti

Pictured: Ali Gorman in Haiti
April 21, 2011 6:02:22 AM PDT
Action News reporter and registered nurse Ali Gorman is in Haiti this week, joining doctors and nurses from Project Medishare as they work to improve the lives of people who are still suffering after last year's earthquake.

My trip to Haiti with Project Medishare - Days 5, 6 and 7

The last days here seemed to go by very quickly. We continue to see very sick people- both kids and adults. Stacey, the volunteer working in x-ray, put it this way? she said at her job back in the Oregon, 90-percent of the x-rays she does are normal (meaning there is no problem.) But here, she said 90-percent of the time not only does she confirm the problem doctors are looking for exists but she also finds other problems. There are so few resources for medical care here that it seems people put off getting things checked out.

The little girl who was brought in most likely with cholera went into cardiac arrest. The thought is she got so dehydrated that her electrolytes got out of whack sparking the arrest. The doctors and nurses were able to save her for the night but sadly she died the next day. Too much damage had already been done.

It is so sad to see people, kids especially so sick and for problems that could easily be taken care of back home. However, that said it does seem that the Haitian people are very strong and resilient. They are also so caring. Most of the adult patients' families stay with them here and help with their care. Same goes for the kids who have parents.

And there is hope. We went for a ride outside the hospital the other day and while the streets and many buildings are full of debris and rubble, other areas have been repaired.

And the hospital itself is a sign of progress. It started out as tents outside the hospital. Now it is in a building and houses several departments including an operating room, pharmacy and x-ray room. I am told this is the only hospital in Port au Prince that has an intensive care unit and can take care of critically sick patients.

The Haitian nurses and medical students are also eager to learn. One nurse in particular is so good. She was near the end of her training when the earthquake struck and demolished her school. She lost several friends in the tragedy. But she has become an excellent nurse. She is caring and friendly and picks up on problems with patients right away.

Plus, I heard some other good news on my last day. Little Luc (one of my favorites in the PEDS unit) is going for an ECHO Saturday to get a diagnosis as to what is wrong with his heart, And I'm told a doctor from the U.S. may be interested in helping Luc get both heart surgery and a cleft-lip repair. I pray he will get the care he needs.

Overall, the experience has been great. I am very glad I came. I met some wonderful people. The other volunteers are amazing and so skilled. I just hope someday in the future Haiti will be okay on its own.

Thanks again for reading my blog and if you would like to help the relief effort, please visit www.projectmedishare.org There is still so much need here in terms of education and supplies. Even little things like baby wipes, formula and diapers run out quickly. Clothing for the babies is also scarce. There are few linens for the adult patients. And as for medical supplies there are never enough. I will post one more video story this week when I get back.

Thanks, again for reading:)

My trip to Haiti with Project Medishare - Days 3 and 4

Wow, I am not even sure where to begin. It has been a crazy couple of days. In one 12 hour shift, we saw a gun shot victim come into the E.R. here at the Bernard Mevs Hospital, a woman with a ruptured bladder from a car accident and a little girl severely dehydrated most likely from cholera. The little girl ended up going into cardiac arrest and while they could save her that night, she did not survive the next day. It was just too late when she came in for care.

It is difficult to see people, especially kids, suffer with things that would not be a problem in the United States.

I have been working in the pediatric unit with two amazing NICU and Peds nurses and also Haitian nurse who is very nice and helpful. Unfortunately, there are a lot of very sick kids as well. The volunteer pediatric specialist, Dr. Qunag Cho from Canada, has been working almost around the clock. He is remarkably skilled in taking care of patients, talking to families and teaching. He saved two babies in one night!

Another little boy in the peds unit is one-and-a-half months old. He has a congenital heart defect and a cleft lip. He is still waiting for an ECHO (heart scan) to find out exactly what the problem is but, unfortunately, the resources are not here in Haiti to help the little boy. He is so cute and social. He cries in his crib whenever he sees other people across the room - as soon as you pick him up and bring him over the action, he is happy as can be. I pray when I leave, he can get the care he needs.

I am staying in a room with five of the other nurses who are also on the nightshift here (6pm to 6am.) Everyone is great and we are having fun. I am really impressed with all of the volunteers here especially since, for some of them, this is not their first trip here. They are truly people who want to help as much as they can and they have the skills to do so.

So the people and the work are the best parts. The toughest part for me is just missing the comforts of home. I am not much of a camper and this week I have had to "rough it" a bit with no hot water, cramped spaces and food I am not used to eating.

Opinions on the food here vary. Some of the volunteers love it. I, however, have been eating a lot of power bars and peanut butter that I brought from home. The food here seems very heavy and I am craving a big fresh salad or even a nice Honeycrisp apple.

But I will be home Saturday though and dig in then:)

Hope everyone is well back home-- thanks for reading my blog.

RELATED: Ali's video report from her first day in Haiti

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My trip to Haiti with Project Medishare - Day 1

I flew in to Port au Prince early Saturday.? As we were descending, I could see what looked like rows and rows of broken-down shacks.?

My stomach was turning, not due to air sickness just due to fear of the unknown.

But I felt better knowing I was traveling with an amazing group of people.?? And they truly are.? I am volunteering with Project Medishare which is a non-profit organization.? It sends dozens of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, psychologist and other health care professionals to their hospital Bernard Mevs Hospital.

? Project Medishare used to operate out of tents set up outside the airport.? They have since moved into a gated building.? It is staffed by several dozen Haitians, many of whom are learning to become doctors and nurses.

? On our first day, we had a short orientation and a tour.? The hospital has an emergency room, a medical-surgical unit, an intensive care unit, a pediatric department, a neonatal intensive care unit, a spinal cord injury/ rehabilitation department, an oprerating room, lab and pharmacy.?

While after reading that, you may be imagining a huge hospital, but it is not.? It is adequate but spaces are tight and supplies (from donations) are stacked anywhere there is room.?

? For my assignment, I am the nightshift float nurse.? Admittedly, I have not worked 6pm to 6am since I was in the Navy.?

It was tough.?

I helped in the medical surgical unit.? It was very busy and hectic at first.? Working here has reminded me?to how much can be taken for granted at home even simple things such as paper water cups for patients, fresh linens and even just privacy.?? The hospital has medications and other necessary equipment but sometimes you have to improvise a little.

The patients are very gracious, welcoming and seem very appreciative.? The Haitian staff are also very welcoming.? Some are eager to learn - Others seem to have already learned a ton.? I am very impressed with the nursing staff.

? The goal of Project Medishare?is to take care of?Haitian patients and provide supplies but?also to teach the?Haitian staff so that they?will be able to run the hospital on their own in the future.

? At the end of my first shift here, I was exhausted!? I gave report to the dayside nurse at 6:00am, took a very quick and very cold shower and then was asleep by 6:20 a.m.

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? My trip to Haiti with Project Medishare - Day 2

Tonight I am floating to the peds/ neonatal unit to help as they are full and have some very sick children and babies.?

I have never worked with babies before som, thankfully, the other American doctors and nurses are giving me easy jobs just to lessen their workload.?

I am checking vital signs, changing diapers and feeding and holding babies which is definitely the highlight.? I just held fed and held a 4-pound baby.? She is adorable and growing healthy!?? Her neighbor is a two-month old little baby with a heart condition and a feeding tube.? He is also adorable but you can tell he is working hard?to stay alive.?

? There was a pretty scary situation earlier with another baby, a one-month-old little girl.? The Pediatric intensive?care specialist traveling with the team and two amazing NICU nurses worked with her for two hours.? She is now stable.? Her mom is at her bedside.

? I am learning so much and again, the families and staff are so nice, welcoming and grateful.

Okay, back to work for me.

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About Project Medishare:

Most supplies?and equipment used at the hospital come through donations from medical centers throughout the world and also from?monetary donations from the public.??Even?almost a?year and a half after the earthquake, the need here continues.

If you would like to donate, please visit?www.projectmedishare.org


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