Haiti Surgical Mission: Dedicated Green Bay surgical team overshadows lack of technology (Part 1)

Haiti Surgical Mission: Dedicated Green Bay surgical team overshadows lack of technology (Part 1)

March 11, 2010

by Michael Cerkas

In the post-earthquake world of Haiti, many facets of help have begun to arrive and contribute toward the recovery of a devastated nation, people and community.  Last week, the first surgical mission to Haiti from the Green Bay area, departed with confidence, a positive attitude and determination.  The team of 20, led by Dr. Jack Hale, a Green Bay Obstetrician, was comprised of five surgeons, two anesthesia staff, five registered nurses, five surgical technicians, supported by two administrative staff and an interpreter.  Working with the Friends of Haiti, the team arrived at the Double Harvest Medical/Surgical Clinic, located at Croix des Bouquets, eight miles east of Port Au Prince, on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010.  Double Harvest is led by Pastor Arthur Spalding.

Their goal; perform needed surgical procedures to waiting people of the surrounding villages and area. Their challenge, perform the surgeries, not having ever seen the patients or operating room facilities or equipment.  Additionally, accomplish positive and successful outcomes working on surgical teams comprised of individuals that are minimally familiar with each other, including their skills, communication styles and experience levels.  And most amazingly, accomplish many delicate surgical procedures using dated technology, or in some cases, with none.

Double Harvest Medical/Surgical Clinic, directed by Diane Cable, has been helping local residents since 1987, and has served as a surgical center since 2004.  It offers two operating rooms, an outpatient treatment room, short stay recovery room and examination rooms.  Considering a limited budget and availability of equipment, the Surgical Clinic at Double Harvest maintains an operational presence that has consistently helped the people of Haiti since its inception.  In the words of Dr. Jack Hale, at the beginning of the surgical mission, “The number one priority is patient health and safety”.

Surgical RN Kathy Cerkas cradles one of the bright moments of the week; a newborn brought into the world by our team

In the words of that most famous physicist, Albert Einstein, truer words could not have described the first surgical mission to Haiti from Green Bay; “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.  Difficult environment?  Yes.  Opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of dozens of people with nowhere else to turn?  Absolutely.  The ‘road to Haiti’ was paved with good intentions, however, it was also accompanied by obstacles and challenges (to be covered in subsequent parts of this report).  At the end of three full days of surgery, 45 patients received surgical procedures; some to save their lives, others to restore their health, every single one to retain their spirit for life.

During the mission, members of the surgical team blogged about their experiences and reflections.  You can read their journal here.  Parts 2 and 3 of this series will examine the surgeries performed and the nearby village, living conditions and the indomitable spirit of the Haitian people, as witnessed first-hand by the author.  See related article about the Haiti Earthquake, in the first days after it occurred.

Below is a slideshow depicting the team’s arrival in Port Au Prince, journey to Double Harvest and a glimpse inside this side of heaven for the people of Haiti; the clinic:  The People & Sights of Haiti Post-Earthquake

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