Today was supposed to be an in-service day at the clinic that administers the MATH program and then a dry run of the eye clinic and dermatology clinic with the staff. Instead, we arrived to lines of people waiting to see us. We ran around a bit trying to get organized and then got down to business. You have to go with the flow, whatever that may be.
We saw over 50 eye patients today. Many of them just needed reader glasses but there were a few interesting cases. The best case of the day was a 14 year old girl who came in without emotion on her face. The eye doctor, Carol Gordon, examined her and she was minus 13, meaning she couldn’t see more than an inch in front of her face and hadn’t her whole life. Dr. Gordon fit her with glasses that we had. While they weren’t her correct prescription, they worked better than not seeing at all. We handed her the mirror and she beamed! She could see for the first time in her life. Dr. Gordon took her name and address and she’s going to make her a new pair of glasses and ship them down.
When you’re working in the eye clinic, you forget that you’re in Haiti because you’re just taking care of one patient after another. The people are well dressed, well kept and very proud so there are no outward signs of the financial desperation. But, a walk down the hall reminds you of exactly where you are. As I was headed to our storage room, I saw an infant in complete respiratory distress. They were very calmly trying to fit an oxygen mask to him. In the US, that baby would be in the ICU with a team of people around him, whether he was white, black, Spanish, rich or poor. In Haiti, that baby is sitting in his mother’s arms hoping that a nurse can provide some triage and some solution, after waiting in line in a clinic all morning. His outcome is questionable. And, that’s one of the lucky ones who can get to a clinic.
Tomorrow we are off to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a tent city about 45 minutes outside of Port-au-Prince. It’s very fitting given that it is Kol Nidre, the eve of Yom Kippur. As Dr. Swaykus says, “God does have a sense of humor.”