Reprint of email from Ophelia Dahl, Executive Director PIH
“The city is changed forever”
In today’s earliest hours, Dr. Evan Lyon recounted his reactions to PIH staff in Boston. He spent his first twelve hours in Port-au-Prince driving around the city identifying places in need so that PIH could pursue a more decentralized approach to emergency medical care delivery today. He and other PIH leadership forged important relationships with the hospital administration at the University Hospital (HUEH) where PIH has partnered with the Ministry of Health to pursue a fully coordinated approach to restoring of services for the thousands of patients awaiting care there. And together with the PIH logistics team and Dr. Joia Mukherjee, he helped evacuate four of the most need patients and a guardian from Port-au-Prince to Philadelphia for urgent care. We hope his words will give you all who are supporting this relief effort a small window into what it is like to be in Port-au-Prince now.
Sent on January 17, 2010, 3:34AM by Dr. Evan Lyon of PIH
can’t get through much now but beyond the horror, one very striking reality is that things are totally peaceful. we circulated in PAP in the middle of everything until just now. everywhere. no UN. no police. no US marines and no violence or chaos or anything. just people helping each other. drove past the main central park in PAP where at least 50K people must be sleeping and it was almost silent.
people cooking, talking, some singing and crying. people are kind, calm, generous to us and others. even with hundreds lying on the ground, open fractures, massive injuries of all kinds.
there are few dead bodies on the street. stench is everywhere. the city is changed forever.
we had a late day opportunity to evacuate 4 patients to the US. these may be the first haitian nationals allowed to leave for the US. but martinique has taken over 200. the DR has taken many many more. so we circulated in PAP looking for urgent cases. found hundreds but picked up the 4 to get out, hopefully to philadelphia. open fractures, gangrene, one 4 year old boy with a leg broken in 3 places, a minor head wound, and now 4 days of sleeping outside with IV fluid and maybe some pain meds. probably none.
at the airport, we drove onto the tarmac to meet the air ambulance. surrounded by marines and UN, massive weapons. a humvee with a gunner turret at the top drove by. the noise from the large transport planes was deafening. us citizens and haitian american citizens leaving by the hundreds on US planes. and our small team of haitian and american docs evacuating a drop in the bucket. my ears are still ringing from the noise of it all.
in contrast, port au prince is silent. no current. no car traffic. people sleeping in the streets but little else. beside the impossible weight and tragedy of this city completely devastated, one lasting impression was the stillness of the city. in shock, tragically sad, but quiet. so good to get away from the airport.
sleeping tonight in the house of a dear PIH friend and doctor. attending to neighbors here and able to rest. safety and the work is with our sisters and brothers in this beautiful, proud, and strong nation.
the safest and best way to be here and help is with our colleagues and friends. wonderful to be in the city, away from the airplanes, and working shoulder to shoulder with people we know and love and will continue work with to mourn, assist, and rebuild this special country.
in the photo you see the first time operating of any kind possible at the main general and academic center.
for press / outreach strategy, we might highlight the generosity and getting it done kindness of the air ambulance team. they also left us all the supplies they had on board – water, meds, IV material, blankets, food.
goodnight everyone. love. evan.