Thursday, January 21, 2010

Letter from Dr. Manno

clinic Thursday morning

Written Wednesday night.

It’s 4 o’clock in the morning. Marcel, one of the clinic staff, couldn’t sleep and he decided to take a walk. Since his house is near the clinic, the walk took him to the clinic. To his surprise, there were already a few patients in the waiting area. He asked them why they had come so early as the clinic was going to open at 8 and consulting would start at 9. They answered that they wanted to make sure that they would be seen that day. At 8 o’clock, Marcel came to my home to ask me to start seeing patients at 8 as there were people who had been waiting for 4 hours.

This week the clinic board has decided to make its clinic services free so that all of the people coming from Port au Prince will have access to medical attention and money will not be an issue. Even people who have been sick for awhile are welcome to come.

One way or another, we are all victims. Even though I’m not in Port au Prince, I have people that I know from there who are currently staying at my house. Everyone will have extra expenses to deal with that were not in the budget. That is why we have decided to help people at the clinic.

From our experience of the past few days, we have realized the amount of people who have been sick in their homes because they could not afford to go to the clinic – some for many months. An older woman came in today whose blood sugar was at 450 and her blood pressure was 200/12. Since June she hasn’t been able to come to the clinic, because of money. A little girl, 9 years old with sickle cell whose hematocrite is 24% came. She has been home sick for more than a week and cannot walk because of the pain. Her condition will be with her for the rest of her life and she is in the list of patients that receives medical attention for free. When asked why she hadn’t come sooner, her mom answered that she couldn’t come because she couldn’t afford the transportation fees to the clinic.

I have heard stories this week of great courage. One woman who came into the clinic was in Port au Prince during the earthquake. As everything began to shake, she grabbed the 2 children closest to her, even though her children were in another room. She held on to these children for 15 hours before help came and saved them. Her own children had died in the next room.

We have realized that Ebenezer clinic is one of the cheapest clinics around. At the end of last year we were asking why the number of patients was going down. Today we found out with the free clinic that they hadn’t gone to a different clinic, but had stayed home suffering because they could not afford to come – the financial crisis has hit Haiti as well. Though Ebenezer clinic is cheap, it is not cheap enough.

At the end of the day, the person in charge of registration, told me that there are already 150 patients who came today that we couldn’t see and who will seen tomorrow. So we will need to start as early as we can.

In an act of faith, we have decided to open our gates to those who need help. We do not have the funds right now to sustain that. We are asking our partners to support us as much as they can - to pray for us. We are committed to help those who have come to the community from Port au Prince because they cannot stay in those conditions (no house, job, food), and we are also planning to go to Port au Prince next Friday to respond to the crisis there.

I’m 40 years old. A house in Haiti is a life project. You cannot get a mortgage in Haiti. People build a house to leave it for their children. They may not finish it in their lifetime. At 40 years old, I haven’t been able to raise enough money to complete my house – and I am a professional with a job. So many houses have been destroying in Port au Prince, so many broken dreams. These people are left with nothing and no hope for the future. This is the reality here.

So I have come to ask myself what is the most important thing in life. What is it that a hurricane, gunshot, violence, earthquake cannot take away?


Phil Wright said...

Hi Janelle, I wanted to send you a link to a song/prayer my friend Brock Tyler wrote as he grieved for the people of Haiti.
God bless you with strength and health and direction!

Janelle said...

Phil - thanks for sharing this. I just had a chance to listen to it.