Friday, February 26

Update from Haiti - CRUDEM

Here is a letter Charles Dubuque just sent. The letter is from a St. Louis doctor Bill Guyol. He is a parishioner at Immacolata and on the CRUDEM board. He has spent several weeks at the hospital and here is the letter he wrote after returning home after a week at the hospital. Just amazing.

Bill Guyol is an internist in St. Louis & a fellow Board member of CRUDEM.

He has an incredible passion & commitment for our mission.

Here are his reflections from his week at the hospital.


"Dear Friends,

The Crudem Foundation started 25 years ago when a man recovered from a fatal disease. This man decided to devote his life to serving the poor and went to Haiti. He started delivering care and performing surgeries under primitive conditions. Soon friends, fellow parishioners, physicians and many others contributed to his work. Hopital Sacre Coeur grew into an institution that cares for 200,000 persons in northern Haiti with medical volunteers and supporters from all over the world.

This past week God continued to show his hand. We had a neurosurgeon on our team. He wondered if there was anything he could accomplish in Haiti. A physician in Port au Prince had heard of his arrival and sent us a baby with hydrocephalus. The neurosurgeon performed brain surgery to shunt the extra fluid away from the brain. Soon the word was out and many other babies were referred to us from near and far. The first child was brought to us by a pair of German pilots flying a helicopter that was sponsored by a German charity. They were impressed with our capabilities and on their next trip offered us 50 hours of air time to bring patients from Port au Prince. The trip after that they offered us exclusive use of their helicopter and said they would try to bring another, larger one.

We sent two of our orthopedic surgeons down to evaluate the University Hospital in Port au Prince, now staffed by Navy surgeons. We found that they were operating in tents on tables or desks using Black and Decker power tools. They had no autoclave to sterilize instruments and so were using dirty tools and stabilizing fractures with unsterile devices. Their methods were primitive but they had no other choice. We brought them a small autoclave sterilizer. They cried in relief. These patients all had infected fractures and needed antibiotics and then advanced orthopedic procedures to provide them with definitive closure of their fractures. We are the only facility in Haiti capable of doing this. Thanks to the Germans, we now have a helicopter to transport them to our hospital and the ability to discharge our patients back to Port au Prince (if they have family and a place to go).

Mid-week I was in a panic because most of the medical team was leaving. We would be left with about a dozen nurses and physicians to care for over 250 patients for several days until the next team arrived. That was the day Sabine arrived. Several weeks ago, Sabine, a member of a Haitian American heritage group from Charlotte, NC, contacted the Crudem Foundation and then me. They sent medical teams to a number of places in northern Haiti and wondered if we needed some of their personnel. I was not sure if or when they would come. The group came on a miserable, rainy, muddy day. As our maintenance crew was shoveling gravel onto the driveway to help with the mud, up strolls Sabine, a glamorous Haitian-American woman in high heels. High heels in Haiti! I gave her group the tour. They soon offered their physicians, nurses and physical therapists to help us. When it was time to plan our departure, we had no head nurse to take over. Heather arrived unexpectedly. A cousin of one of our volunteers, she told us she planned to stay for three months. Heather is an from Liverpool and has a cute little Beatles' accent on the walkie-talkie. Problem solved.

How is it that these things occur? How is it that through all the twists and turns and decisions in my life that I find myself in a position to participate in this extraordinary work? I am anything but extraordinary. I know this. How did this happen? It happened because of all the opportunities that God has provided for me throughout my life (many ignored), I said yes this one: I answered an invitation to go to Haiti several years ago. I fell in love with the people and the mission. It was a simple decision and it allowed me to participate in something extraordinary.

I believe that God has had a hand in the development of the Crudem Foundation as well and has guided us to this moment. We stand now as the only referral facility in all of Haiti; the only one capable of performing advanced surgery; the only one capable of relieving the suffering and restoring the function of thousands of victims of the earthquake. This may have been His plan from the beginning. As our board meets this weekend to plan the future of the hospital, please pray that we can find a way to continue our work to serve the people of Haiti, especially those so horribly injured by this earthquake. Pray that we find the means to accomplish this and the will to persevere.


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