Urgent need for Doctors in Haiti

A hospital in Haiti is about to go without doctors and RNs at the end of the week. Help is needed as the cholera outbreak reaches the area. This hospital is supported by a group (AHDH) that I have worked with in Haiti 3 times. In Haiti, new MDs will generally work in a rural hospital for limited time and then move to areas where pay is higher. People in Haiti will often go great distances to get quality medical care including to La Vallee up the mountain from Jacmel on the southern coast of Haiti. St. Joseph’s hospital in La Vallee urgently needs help. If you have questions or would like to get involved, please contact Dr. Rene (info at the bottom of the message below), or contact me directly at scott at rxdonate.com.  If you end up going, contact me prior to departure to coordinate biomedical needs and resources.

Cholera Ward

Make Shift Cholera ward in La Vallee, Haiti from AHDH site

Cholera patient in La Vallee, Haiti (from AHDH)

Please forward to people who may be able to help.

URGENT Need For Volunteer Physician Staff at St. Joseph Hospital

Dear Members, Volunteers and Friends of A.H.D.H.,

Greetings to All From the Field

As you have no doubt heard in the news, Haiti is now dealing with an outbreak of cholera.

At St. Joseph Hospital in Ridore, La Vallee de Jacmel, we have admitted
four patients with suspected cholera. All have come from outside of the
La Vallee area, principally from Port au Prince, to be with family and seek
help at St. Joseph Hospital.

Based on the experience in the rest of Haiti, we expect to see more cases in the next several weeks.

Just at this moment of crisis we will loose our young interns and nurses
who have worked at the hospital this year fulfilling their public service
commitment. Additionally, the volunteers of the 49th AHDH Mission
have completed their work and returned home. In normal years this
would not be a great problem while we wait for their replacements, but
this year we fear will be exceptional.

Cholera patients arriving at the hospital are at great risk of death without a physician ready to apply
aggressive rehydration and antibiotics and guide their care. The community at large is at risk as well
for the spread of the disease if these patients go home without proper care.

So we are inviting all medical professionals to volunteer for a week or two at our hospital over the
next several weeks. We will welcome all qualified volunteers. We will provide food, lodging and
ground transportation during this period. If you have been considering a medical mission trip to
Haiti, please consider doing so now. Your help is very much needed.

We are facing a crisis with staff here in La Vallee, as we still can’t afford a full time MD and RN.
We just barely saved the 4th life, which makes me even wonder if I will have the courage (or lack of)
to leave this place next weekend, as the potential for worsening is just frightening.

Share this message with your colleagues and see if any staffing or financial help is possible.

Please, let me know.

Charles Rene, MD, FACOG
Clinical Associate Professor of OB/Gyn
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Coordinator of Medical Missions for Haiti, AHDH
phone: 011 509 3 757 7264
chasrene at bellsouth dot net

http://www.haitiahdh.org/

Haiti

Dystruction from the January 2010 earthquakes in Jacmel

I’m currently in LaVallee, Haiti, writing a blog post over a satellite internet connection powered by a generator. It’s kind of cool that you can now communicate anywhere in the world form anywhere else in the world. To find out more about what I’m doing in Haiti, visit my trip blog.

Immediate medical needs in LaVallee de Jacmel, Haiti

Below is a live need (received this morning)  for medical equipment / support in Haiti.  This comes from likely one of the best rural hospitals in the country.  Needs are great.  If anyone knows of someone who may have a cardiac monitor (below) that we can use for a week and a half let me know.  This will increase patient safety before, during, and after surgery.  Also seen is the the need for basic equipment support.  Even having a manual in many cases will make the difference.  If anyone has resources, please reach out.  I leave to meet this team on Thursday.

first team, LaVallee de Jacmel, Haiti June-July 2010

first team, LaVallee de Jacmel, Haiti June-July 2010

1- The monitors we hooked patients on during surgery, which must reflect BP, Heart rate, Pulse-Oximeter and EKG tracing are not coming on, not displaying. Strange smell coming out.
The monitors from the anesthesia machines neither will come on.
We were able to get one cardiac monitor from a source, but it is a limited one, w/o Pulse oximeter and EKG tracing.
If you or Ramesh can get one, even on loan, that would be great.
2-The C-Arm fluoroscope which won’t go on, probably a battery unused for a coule of years
3-Gomco suction machine won’t go on
4-Autoclave: Tuttnauer, brand new, may have sustained damage (crack visible) during the shipping:
Comes on, but temperature never gets as high as it needs to get.
5-All the defibrillators need to be activated. Never used. Need to be charged and tried.
6-Fetal monitors need assembling of components and start using them.
7-EKG machines need to be tried.

Trip prep continues

Trip prep continues for the Haiti medical mission.  I found a quasi-working iPhone to replace mine that basically died last week.  It should suffice, but I continue to look for a better one.  I want to be sure I can send messages back from Haiti via smart phone, wifi, or whatever other sources I can find on the ground.  We leave Austin on Thursday and arrive in Haiti on Friday after a layover in Miami.  It will be interesting to see how things have held up since my last visit before the earthquakes earlier this year.

The team will consist of 60+ mostly physicians and surgeons.  Many surgeries will be performed and it is my goal to support their efforts and hopefully fix some of the broken equipment (including a C-arm fluoroscopy system from GE–anyone have a tech manual handy?)  The best info that I have thus far is that it worked before it shipped and it is a GE system 10.

Other than supporting the team and helping however I can, I plan on taking many pictures and video of the team’s efforts.  It will be interesting to see how things have changed since my last two visits.  Medical support has been hard in Haiti for many logistical reasons in the past.  After the earthquake, based on the international medical response, it will be interesting to see if things have gotten better–I hope they have and that this continues.  We will have to see.  Another thing I hope to capture in the video are lessons learned after such a massive disaster response.  Hopefully we can use all of this to learn best practices for handling future disaster response.

Lastly, I can use your help!  One of the people on the team (I haven’t met them yet) is looking for donated digital cameras to leave with locals (I think kids) in Haiti.  I don’t have the details, but I can only see good coming from it.  If you have any used digital cameras (with charger and memory card–they don’t have too many camera shops in the country), let me know before the end of June 30 and I’ll deliver them to Haiti.

That’s it for now–back to work.

Going to Haiti again

An opportunity just came up to go down to Haiti and continue the

renovation of a hospital I have worked at extensively on two prior occasions.  In addition to supporting the medical infrastructure there, I will be working with people on the ground in testing and revising

Hospital in LaVallee 2005

RxDonate’s methods to streamline medical donations to developing countries, provide support for visiting medical teams, and improve medical care around the world.  I’ll try to update this blog while I’m down

there to let you know how things have improved since the earthquake

this past January.  I’m hoping I’ll have time (and transportation) to visit my friends John and Suzi at Hopital Ste. Croix in Leogane.  Most of my time will be in LaVallee de Jacmel in the mountains and in Jacmel on the southern coast of the country.  Back to preparations.  If anyone would like further info on this trip, or how they can help, please contact me via email or post comments to this blog.

Healthcare Entrepreneurship in Austin, TX

On May 4, I attended a presentation on Bio-Tech: The Next Big Thing at the Austin Forum. It was very interesting to see the perspectives from some of the leaders in the Austin area on this topic. The panel consisted of Greg Hartman, the president and CEO of the Clinical Education Center at the University Medical Center Brackenridge; Dr. Steve Leslie, the Provost of the University of Texas at Austin; Dr. Jessica Hanover, the first bioscience director of Austin Technology Incubator; and Joe Scarba, a serial entrepreneur with experience commercializing medical devices.
Wet lab space was identified as one of the biggest needs to spur biomedical innovation in Austin. The university and local hospital systems have it, but access to startup companies that would take university and independent research to the next level is virtually non-existent in the Austin area. Until we create such a resource, we may lose innovation to communities more supportive of biomedical research.
In this presentation, the nascent links between the University of Texas at Austin and UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas were mentioned along with the hope of bringing more translational medical research to Austin. The greater affiliation between UT Austin, a research oriented institution, and a medical school, bringing medical students to the Austin area, is an important step towards world-class translational innovation in Austin, Texas.
Corporations often take biomedical research from the lab to the bedside where it can actually help patients. This can be a very long process with a high degree of risk. Clinical trials are often involved along with food and drug administration (FDA) clearance. There are several phases to this process—each requiring more funding than the previous.
With the investment climate the way it has been over the past few years, it is difficult to acquire funding for unproven technology—particularly in the biomedical field where the path to market can easily exceed $100s of millions. Smart money would go to companies that have taken steps to prove their idea. Currently, in Austin, such a company would need to fork out $100s of thousands to millions in order to simply get started with biological/wet lab space. Ideally, these companies would spend investment capital or even federal, state, or local funds on testing and improving their idea or technology vs. building expensive lab space. The barrier is unduly hard—we should fix this to bring a more entrepreneurial biomedical community to Austin, Texas.
More later.

New Company

In starting any entrepreneurial venture, sustainability is critical.  This becomes challenging when the venture is applied to serving the needs of the poor throughout the world.  Case in point:  a company being started: www.rxDonate.com.  We are currently looking for ways to support initial development of our platform as well as ways to support its ongoing operations.

Background:  Hospitals, physicians, and others have been donating their time and equipment to developing countries for decades.   Literally millions of dollars of medical equipment are donated around the world each year.  Not to mention the donation of time and energy from medical professionals, engineers, and others who help deploy medical care and support in developing nations.  Unfortunately, the generosity of many is often not utilized as intended.

The idea:  Lets help those who are already giving generously—help them save more lives and provide better healthcare resulting in a better experience for all.  After this, lets help lower the barrier to new caregivers and medical institutions so that they, too, can help.

Current situation:  There are thousands of individuals, groups, and organizations around the world whose mission is to provide healthcare to those who cannot afford it—particularly in the poorest nations.  Individuals often travel on their own dime and on their own time just to help where they can.  I have heard many stories from medical volunteers who have deployed to developing countries—planning on doing surgeries, and providing healthcare but not able to due to preventable obstacles.  This can be extremely frustrating to those who spent their own time and money to help only to find this life saving potential wasted.

Many groups have learned how to solve some of the problems over time.   However, each of these groups can’t do it by themselves.  We will be providing a network for these individuals and groups to allow them to learn from one another.  We will help provide the infrastructure to increase the odds that their time is spent as intended.

Institutions often help by donating used medical equipment and supplies to hospitals and clinics in developing countries.  Donations are typically made with the greatest of intentions.  However, the unique realities of many developing countries reduces the value of these donations.  There are several ways we intend to help increase the value of these donations (in terms of patients seen and lives saved).  Additionally, we will help donors find recipients who not only want the equipment in question, but are capable of utilizing and maintaining this equipment.  Finally, we will help all people in the supply chain of donated medical equipment see what their donations have been able to accomplish by providing success stories from the field.

We have a design for how this will start.  However, we want your input.  At RxDonate.com, we are currently looking for people to help us help those who are literally saving the world.  If you have a skill or passion that may help, please contact us and tell more.  Additionally, if you would like to help support our efforts financially, don’t hesitate to ask how.

Increasing the effectiveness of medical equipment donations worldwide

It took a day for response teams and equipment to start to arrive, feet on the ground to save the thousands of Haitians trapped under structures. This was too slow. Two good friends of mine from Austin, people that I have worked with in Haiti before the recent earthquake, were no exception. Suzi was able to get out of the building she was in with those around her. John was trapped and a sledgehammer from across town freed him from the rubble. By the shear efforts of average people turned extraordinary, John was pulled out with only bumps and cuts after 4 hours.

When disaster strikes, many people feel moved to help out in whatever way they can. The recent earthquakes in Haiti are no exception. Within minutes to weeks, countries and powers throughout the world, along with individuals and ad hoc groups responded with information, money, materials, and their own sweat. Haiti was already one of the poorest countries in the world. For many after the earthquake, the little they had was lost.

Medical care in Haiti, like in many other developing nations, is difficult at best—even before the earthquake. Haitians often rely on donations and funds from more fortunate individuals abroad to help support local hospitals and clinics.

In 2003, I saw first hand how inefficient donation supply chain can be. The process works something like this: A doctor or medical group who travels to a hospital in a developing country sees the need for, say, an abdominal ultrasound which can save countless mothers and their children. After their trip, the doctor makes calls, talks to others, and hopefully finds someone willing to donate their older equipment. Shipment is arranged and the equipment is sent to the hospital. A year later the medical team goes back to the same hospital only to find that their hard found donation isn’t being utilized and lives are still being lost.

If the hospital is lucky, the equipment has arrived and being used for its intended purpose. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Commonly one of a few things happens: It is stuck in customs and never arrived at the hospital, it is at the hospital, but those who could use it don’t know it is there, it was broken in shipment, or no one knows how to use it. Unfortunately, all scenarios are commonplace.

For the past several months, I have been looking into ways to make this situation better—to help those who need the most so that lives can be saved—not only in Haiti but in lesser served areas throughout the world. Solutions do exist and I am currently building a team to help make it a reality.

I hope this blog will serve as the beginning of a transformation in how donated medical equipment gets used to save lives. There is not doubt that medical donations save many lives and reduce morbidity already. We can leverage this existing generosity and save more lives with less.

If you would like to help, please contact me. A future post will go into more details of what we are looking for and how we plan to accomplish this.

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