Last Day, Great Day…

When we got back to the hotel last night, we reconnected with five intrepid members of our Dental team who had spent the day on the island of La Gonave seeing and treating Haitians who live there but have no access to care.  In fact, not one of the 300,000+ residents there has access to care as there’s no dentist on the island at all!  Needless to say, they were busy but had a very productive and smooth-running day.  Congrats and thanks to Rick, Iris, Ed, Andrew and Sonia.

This morning we left the hotel at 6:30 as the full group of us returned to Jerusalem to finish what we started yesterday.  As we arrived, we were greeted by a huge but orderly group of over 200.  They were anxious to get started but were understanding and patient (pardon the pun) as we set up for another full clinic day here.

We’ve seen some fascinating, challenging and sad cases here and they simply underscore the great need for community health care in Canaan.  Here’s a quick summary of just a few.
  • A 60-year-old man with a nail inadvertently driven through his finger leaving a gaping wound that became severely infected.  His wound was cleaned and redressed before an antibiotics injection and follow up oral antibiotics were given.
  • A 36-year-old man hobbling around on crutches and a surgically implanted external leg brace to assist in the healing of a badly broken femur.  It’s how it became broken that’s shocking.  He was held up at gunpoint on his way home from work.  The perpetrator stole his motorcycle and he ended up being shot in the thigh.  It will be nine months before the fracture is healed and the supporting brace is removed.  In the meantime, he has no job and no prospects of employment upon his return to good health.  He has a wife and two daughters and he has no idea how they’ll survive.

  • A 22-day-old baby who was clearly very sick.  She was floppy, listless, eyes only half open, if at all, extremely dehydrated and suffering from a systemic staph infection.  It’s the kind of case that, if seen in Toronto, would result in immediate admission to the ICU at Sick Kids Hospital.  It turns out that her mother had been feeding her nothing but flour and water since birth (she’d had trouble breastfeeding so she stopped).  This is the kind of situation in which the Speroway team really shines.  We immediately arranged transportation to the hospital, and educated the mother as best we could on how to feed and parent her infant (although we fear it may be too late).  The trouble is that a hospital stay will cost money in a country with no insured healthcare.  So among the team members, we kicked in about $500 and gave it to the community leader who was driving them to the hospital.  We’ll never know if the child survives, but we feel as if we made a difference.
  • An 82-year-old women suffering from asthma needed a puffer.  Administering the medicine is a real challenge for young and old alike.   Using an Aerochamber is typically recommended (a cylinder-like plastic device that facilitates the delivery of the medicine).  The problem is that we didn’t have any Aerochambers.  That didn’t stop Laurie, our Paramedic from Peterborough.  She brilliantly fashioned one out of an empty water bottle – and it worked remarkably well!

Today we funded lunch at the school we support here in Jerusalem.  Around midday, we all took a break and helped serve 150 kids and 21 teachers.  It was a nice departure from the clinic environment and the entire team loved engaging with these amazing kids.


By the end of the day, we were feeling pretty great about our week here in Haiti.  We fly home tomorrow but it’s safe to say we’ll be back.  Special thanks to Jack and his crack dental team, to Chris and the hardworking Pharmacy crew, to Tony and the best Medics ever, to Paul, Steve, Heather and Jason, our logistics and traffic management group and especially to the President of Speroway, Ken Forbes who pulled this all together for us.  The truth is that everyone plays a role and this week, you all played yours brilliantly.

We really connected as a group and worked beautifully – a well-oiled machine if there ever was one.  We learned a lot, worked hard, had some fun and did some good – overall, it was a pretty great week.  Thanks for following along – may we be back in the field again soon.  Until then.

PS:  Chris, our Pharmacy lead, added up the numbers this evening and announced during our closing dinner that in the first ten years of Speroway Medical/Dental Clinic trips, we’ve assessed and treated over 50,000 patients!  Amazing!

Tim Fallis