HHI’s Ebola Treatment Unit Under Construction in Liberia

The first photos are coming in from the work site in Kakata, Liberia.  The photos are somewhat small thanks to a slow and intermittent internet connection.  But, you can see that work is progressing on our 70-bed Ebola Treatment Unit!  We expect to have it up and running in November.

Workers are busy constructing the visitor area of the new HHI Ebola Treatment Unit in Kakata, Liberia.

 

Digging Latrine Pits

Digging the latrine pits at the new Ebola Treatment Unit in Kakata, Liberia.

 

Triage ETU

The triage area of the Ebola Treatment Unit, where patients will be first checked in.

 

 

A Clinic That Ebola Closed

The Life Care Health Clinic is just one clinic in the Liberian countryside, but its story is shared by so many across this country.  It’s a story of frustration, incapacity and loss of knowing what could possibly be done next.

Life Care Health Clinic

The clinic is located in the interestingly named Soul Clinic community of Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia, Liberia.  Our team – myself, Gary, Sue, Dan – along with James, our guide, came to learn more about how health providers are faring in this time of Ebola, and to provide some supplies we had brought with us. We had an opportunity to sit and talk with the small clinic staff and listened mostly to Mr. Tia, the clinic administrator, as he talked about his clinic, the community and what they’ve had to deal with.

This tiny clinic has a two-bed male ward, two-bed female ward, a delivery room, a pharmacy, and it serves a community of about 4,000 people.  When Ebola came into their community they were unprepared for the onslaught of patients, and woefully under-supplied and under-staffed.

They had no way to protect themselves from the Ebola virus, nor did they have a way to determine who actually has Ebola or who has something else like a bad case of malaria or cholera.  At first they tried to just turn away those that had symptoms, but it quickly became clear that it was hard to tell who was infected with Ebola and who wasn’t.  So the difficult decision was made that they simply must close the clinic.

Gary & Sue at Soul Clinic

Sue & Gary with Life Care Health Clinic staff in Liberia

 

Mr. Tia told us that out of 50 deaths in the past few months, maybe 20 to 30 are from Ebola and that perhaps the rest could have been prevented with regular medical care, but there is no way for people to get treated now.  Beyond Ebola, his biggest concern is people dying of malaria, which is so much more common than Ebola.

We listened, sitting on the porch of the clinic as the African rains fell, and thanked Mr. Tia and his staff for sharing their stories and concerns.  Before we departed, we left one of our Ready Relief Boxes full of medical supplies, thermometers, disposable stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs.

We wanted to do more.  As we drove away we hoped that soon we will.

 

In Haiti, A Future Shines at the End of the Road…

At the end of the road in Cascade Pichon, Haiti, a little bit beyond the Heart to Heart International clinic and just past the “hotel” there is a path heading to the left, away from the waterfall.

cascade pichon   5I recently took this path to check on the construction of a new school building that sits atop a hill, overlooking a valley and more mountains.  I was in Cascade Pichon, this time, showing a colleague around Upper Pichon, where the clinic is located.  Following us up the hill were four boys who are always together – Antionne, Alex, and brothers Deswin and Fresno.

I’ve developed quite an appreciation for Deswin.  He’s very bright and carries little notebooks with him that he uses to teach himself English, French and Spanish.  This 10-year-old is an immense help and is always eager to let me practice Creole with him and to teach me new words.  Besides Fresno, Deswin has two older brothers who walk a few hours to go to to school in Belle Anse and a sister that lives and attends school in Port-au-Prince.   Deswin and his brothers live in Cascade Pichon with their mother. Their father works across the border in the Dominican Republic.

Deswin says to me, “This is going to be the best school in all of Pichon.”

On this particular day, while my colleague tried to find a cell signal at the top of the hill, Deswin says to me, “This is going to be the best school in all of Pichon.”   I thought to myself, “Well, that can’t be too difficult… the school you have now is a tiny one-room building with overflow benches outside under a tarp that has seen better days. The school is so small that hundreds of children don’t go to school because there is simply no room.”

Instead, I said, “Oh really? Will you go to school here?”  Deswin responded, “I may go to school here or in Belle Anse, but I would like to go here.”

I asked him why he would prefer to attend the school in Cascade Pichon and his reply surprised me. He said that he would prefer to go to school in Pichon because of the volunteers that come there. He explained how it gives him the opportunity to learn more English that will give him more opportunities later.

In my head this is where the work that we do in Haiti comes full circle. Heart to Heart International’s development work in the southeast of Haiti started in Cascade Pichon with a federation, just like all of our work.

A federation is essentially a community civic organization. Federations take ‘ownership’ of the needs in their communities and HHI works with these federations.

The first essential need the Cascade Pichon community wanted to address was healthcare. The federation donated the land for our clinic in Cascade Pichon a few years ago. Once built, the clinic was staffed solely by ex-pat volunteers.  Now, a Haitian Medical Team works in the clinic and is supplemented by volunteers.  Since the clinic is owned by the federation, the federation keeps half of the consultation fees incurred from patients coming to the clinic.

In 2013, the Cascade Pichon Federation decided it was time to start addressing the next big need – Education.  The federation purchased land for the school and then, through building partnerships, Heart to Heart International helped to facilitate the building of the school, working in coordination with the Haitian government which has agreed to send teachers to instruct the children.  Hopefully, the building will be completed, staffed and operational this Fall.

I think this is what Development is. And it doesn’t happen quickly.  But I can’t wait to see what Deswin is doing in 10 years, to see how he is impacting Haiti because of decisions being made today by elders in his community, supported by HHI and its volunteers.

A few years ago, Deswin’s future certainly looked different. He didn’t have access to healthcare, he didn’t have access to a school in his community, and he didn’t have access to volunteers coming to his village to widen his world-view and let him expand his own horizons and quite literally alter his own future.  Now he does.

– Julie

Aid Reaches Those in Need in the Philippines

Ray & Zeus feature size 16:9While many spent the long Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. with family and friends, and getting into the swing of the holiday season, in the Philippines… HHI staff and volunteers continued to provide medical care and deliver aid to those in need, like Ray and his son Zeus in the photo above.

As of this writing, it’s been nearly a month since Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the central Philippines.  In that time Heart to Heart International’s Advance Team and medical volunteers have held clinics in several locations in the typhoon zone on Leyte Island and Samar Island, seeing hundreds of patients for a variety of ailments.

As we wrote about in a previous post, we’ve also shipped more than 44 tons of aid containing food, shelter supplies, medicine, medical equipment and Heart to Heart Care Kits.  Those Care Kits are now in the hands of the people who need them.  Check out a few photos of what you made happen!

 

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HHI Doctor in Philippines: “I no longer felt numb, I felt a little sick…”

2013-11-25 07.15.32-1Our Advance Team in the Philippines continues to do great, exhaustive work providing healthcare for people in the typhoon disaster zone. They began in Ormoc City and recently moved to Tacloban (pictured above), the city worst hit by Haiyan/Yolanda.

The three-person Advance Team has now been bolstered with the addition of almost a dozen medical volunteers from across the US.

Recently, we featured some personal thoughts and observations from Sue Mangicaro, RN and Dr. Rick Randolph – the two medical professionals on our Advance Team.  After treating dozens upon dozens of patients each day, they still have had the stamina to write down some of what they’re experiencing.

Sue & RickHere now, the most recent dispatch from Dr. Rick Randolph…

RICK:  We held clinic in an evacuee center near the waterfront in Tacloban, after moving from a makeshift clinic in a church as the patient volume was a little sparse.  The patients in the evacuation center were grateful but without major physical pathology.  We did see a fair number of people with insomnia and stress.  Two families had lost family members.  One came in with complaints of insomnia and shoulder pain.

I always ask what happened to them during the typhoon. This one woman had lost her son and two grandchildren.  According to a pastor, the son was kind and treated his mother well.  However, he wanted to stay with his home near the waterfront to protect their possessions despite the pleas of his mother.  He and his house were swept away along with two of his children.  This woman was able to escape and held two small grandchildren on her shoulders.  We could treat the pain in her shoulders, but we couldn’t heal her heart.

2013-11-25 07.15.30After clinic, we took a tour of the waterfront.  It was still a mass of wreckage and debris.  There were children playing and laughing, although the smell of rot was pervasive.  The views were stunning but after a while, you just felt a little numb. 

As we took a cleared street back, we passed the body of a baby. There was a small cross constructed from sticks and the body was covered with a mat.  We asked some people standing nearby about the baby’s body.  They said that the body had probably been recovered from the wreckage and dropped off along the road.

One of us commented that it was sad that the parents had lost a baby and didn’t know where the body was.  The bystanders said that the parents were probably dead too.  I no longer felt numb, I felt a little sick…


2013-11-25 07.15.33Please support Heart to Heart International by Donating Now
to our Disaster Readiness & Response Fund
.
Your donations will help deliver aid and support our relief efforts
in the Philippines, as well as help keep HHI prepared for
disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.

A Report from the Typhoon Disaster Zone (Part Two)

Dr. Rick w/ BabyOur Advance Team is on the ground on Leyte Island in the Philippines delivering direct patient care to hundreds of people who need it. One doctor & one nurse seeing hundreds of patients. That is changing, as more Heart to Heart International volunteers are arriving.

Our Advance Team:
Rick Randolph, MD
is a physician based in the Kansas City Metro, and a HHI board member.
Sue Mangicaro, RN 
is volunteering for the Advance Team, on “loan” from Welch Allyn where she is the Director of Clinical Affairs.
Julie Hefner,
a HHI staffer & Team Lead

What follows is some of Dr. Rick’s observations during his time treating patients in the disaster zone.  To read comments from Sue in Part One, click here.

2013-11-19 14.42.27RICK: This deployment was off to a hectic start for me.  I was out of town when the Typhoon struck and I committed to deploy with HHI while in New Orleans.  That compressed the preparation time since I had patients scheduled for the week.  My practice is used to my trips and generously accommodated my request for time off.

After meeting with the Heart to Heart staff, Julie Hefner and I flew to Los Angeles to meet up with Sue Mangicaro and then on to Cebu, Philippines.  It was a long flight over a total of 14 time zones and we were exhausted the day we arrived with jet lag.  

At the Ormoc city hall we met Commander Joseph Ring of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mustin.  He had two helicopters and was the on scene commander for the US military lead relief efforts.  Very handy.  Upon our arrival, we received a request for medical support for a village in the hills.  Cmdr. Ring dispatched a helicopter to the village and within 30 minutes we received a medical assessment from the Navy medic that there was no major medical needs, although they did desperately need food and clean water.  That saved us a day of walking into the mountains (the only other way to get there) for a place where there wasn’t a great medical need.  

2013-11-22 15.31.53At our first clinic at a local church where we were assigned, we saw about 75 patients in a shortened day. There were some injuries from the typhoon and a lot of illness from the contaminated water and the smoke in the air from burning debris (intentionally burned for disposal).  There were also several with chronic illness and a significant number of those who were severely stressed by their circumstances who can’t sleep or who somaticize {ed. note: anxiety converted into physical symptoms}.

The force of the Typhoon is evident in the substantial structures as well as the small houses.  The larger structures absorbed more force and roofs and walls were taken down.  The smaller houses were less substantial and had less structural strength and many were totally destroyed.
2013-11-20 13.29.15There is debris everywhere. The roads are mostly cleared to some extent.  Smoke is everywhere as people burn trash and debris. 

There is no electricity and probably won’t be for at least 6 months.  Generators are the only source of power.  The hotel where we stay {pic on right} has a large one and has established dozens of outlets outside the hotel for people to charge their cell phones, run their nebulizers for asthma and just watch the TV in the lobby for news.

Ormoc City is a functioning city.  The economy is turning back on and the health of the people isn’t too bad. The streets are bustling with activity.  Tacloban, on the other hand, has disintegrated.  There are many internally displaced persons from Tacloban in Ormoc despite the 100 kilometer distance.

Please support Heart to Heart International by Donating Now
to our Disaster Readiness & Response Fund
.
Your donations will help deliver aid and support our relief efforts
in the Philippines, as well as help keep HHI prepared for
disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.

A Report from the Typhoon Disaster Zone

Dr Rick & Nurse Sue

Our Advance Team has been on the ground in the Philippines working in and around Ormoc City for several days now.  It’s made up of three people: a HHI staffer, a doctor and a nurse.  While they have been working through the logistics of deploying more medical volunteers (that are arriving), they have also been traveling and have seen hundreds of patients in a variety of locations with myriad afflictions. One doctor & one nurse. Seeing hundreds of patients.

Rick Randolph, MD is a physician based in the Kansas City Metro, and a HHI board member.
Sue Mangicaro, RN 
is volunteering for the Advance Team, on “loan” from Welch Allyn where she is the Director of Clinical Affairs.

What follows is some of what Sue has seen and done in the past few days in the Philippines.

2013-11-19 14.00.13SUE:  This one afternoon was spent seeing more than 50 patients in a barangay (neighborhood) a short distance from our first clinic.  While not far, the damage here was more severe and there were more casualties.  When we arrived we learned that large sacks of rice had been delivered just a short time before, and we had little space to set up.  But going with our “make do” approach we compromised and set up an “exam area” among the rice sacks.

The patients Dr. Rick and I saw had infections from nail punctures, lacerations and open wounds from the rubble and debris from the typhoon.  Many appeared to have  post traumatic stress but all were extremely grateful for the care.  Toward the end of the day we met a young man who had lost everything in the typhoon, and then to make matter worse had lost his wallet while trying to get food for his family.

He had a badly infected foot that had been cut by some tin scrap.  He needed a tetanus shot, antibiotics and to have his leg cleaned and apply a dressing. He began to weep when I was applying the bandages, not because of the pain, but because of everything he had been through and was going through.  We all prayed with him and he left smiling, and returned with his 5-year-old son to be checked out.  Fortunately, he just needed reassurance – something so easy to give, so hard to receive by the many victims of the disaster.

Look for more reports from Sue, and hear from Dr. Rick in our next blog installment.

Please support Heart to Heart International by Donating Now
to our Disaster Readiness & Response Fund
.
Your donations will help deliver aid and support our relief efforts
in the Philippines, as well as help keep HHI prepared for
disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.

HHI Uses “Ripple Effect” to Provide Supplies to High School Clinic

Bulldoc_Clinic_13This week, program staff with Heart to Heart International (HHI) delivered medical equipment worth more than $30,000 to a free clinic established inside a Kansas City area high school.

Bulldoc_Clinic_6The BullDoc Health Center occupies a handful of old classrooms in a corner of the historic Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas. The name is a clever play on words as Wyandotte High is the Home of the Bulldogs. The clinic operates one morning a week on Wednesdays and according to Robbie Howard, a Wyandotte High health sciences teacher, when it is open, 25 to 35 students will be seen by the volunteer medical staff.
University of Kansas medical students staff the clinic along with a rotation of KU Hospital doctors who specialize in family medicine.  Several of Howard’s students work in the clinic as well, gaining exposure to a ‘real world’ health clinic environment.

Bulldoc_Clinic_4The BullDoc Health Center is just one of a several free and safety-net clinics that Heart to Heart supports around the greater Kansas City region.  The recent delivery for BullDoc consisted of stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs and other basic items to outfit and properly run a clinic.  The equipment comes from medical equipment manufacturer Welch Allyn through its Ripple Effect program.
Ripple Effect works like this:  Medical students around the country purchase specific discounted Welch Allyn products; Welch Allyn then gives credits to HHI based on the sale;  HHI then uses those credits to acquire Welch Allyn products and deliver needed items to clinics.

 
ripple effect MED STUDENTS! Click the photo above to learn about Ripple Effect and enter to win a humanitarian trip with Welch Allyn & Heart to Heart International!

Click the photos below to see a slideshow of the delivery to the BullDoc Health Center at Wyandotte High School (email subscribers please visit the blog to view slideshow).

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Heart to Heart Hosts Haiti Development Summit

Cascade PichonIt was remarkable really.

Momentous even, that so many representatives for so many different entities chose to come to Cascade Pichon, a place quite literally at the end of the road (picture above), in a far remote corner of Haiti, difficult to reach, to talk development and healthcare with Heart to Heart International… we’re all still a bit stunned that it actually happened. But we’re all very pleased too!

The purpose of the Summit was to jump-start all of the things that have been talked about & planned for this far-flung area of Haiti, to get as many groups and government ministries involved as possible, and to get them to Cascade Pichon.

Woman_1This is one of the areas where Heart to Heart has worked for three years to broaden access to healthcare for the citizens of Haiti. There’s a new Heart to Heart health clinic in Cascade Pichon where residents, seeking care, hike down from the mountains on foot to reach. We recently launched a five-week comprehensive Cholera response to aid and educate from here. And this is where we deploy not just Haitian doctors and nurses, but medical and non-medical volunteers to help us reach our goals.

And this is where dozens of people gathered, Thursday, April 4th, 2013 to talk about the future of healthcare for thousands of residents far off the beaten path in Haiti. It’s worth mentioning the date as we hope it serves as a milestone moment.

Both Heart to Heart and The Federation of Peasants of Pichon hosted the summit where government officials, NGO representatives and local leaders met to chiefly talk sustainable development.
For the Government of Haiti this was a Director level meeting and representatives of several GoH Ministries were on hand: Health, Tourism, Education, Environment, Planification (Economic Development).
And from Heart to Heart International both CEO Krystal Barr and CFO Bud Jeffress were in-country, and joined our Haitian staff of doctors, nurses and executive personnel.

The result from this historic summit? A commitment to improve the road to Cascade Pichon and invest more in the healthcare infrastructure of the area.
It’s not everything that needs to be done, but it’s a start. A good start.

DW HHI

What follows are photos from the Summit. Click any to begin a slideshow.

Thoughts from Hurricane Sandy

Heart to Heart International has now shifted into Phase II of our Hurricane Sandy response in the Northeast. While we continue to work with partners to coordinate aid deliveries, our Mobile Medical Unit has now returned to HQ after three weeks of service to New York residents affected by the Superstorm.
The MMU was already rolling before Sandy made landfall, and once it had arrived in Long Island, it was plugged into the overall relief effort, first being used at Red Cross shelters housing Southshore evacuees.
For a week and a half, volunteer doctors, nurses and medics made the MMU their office away from office, seeing dozens of patients for various ailments.
Then, once the shelters began to consolidate, the Unit was placed at a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Far Rockaway, Queens, the scene of much devastation, and for another week and a half was used by more medical personnel to treat area residents.
I asked some of the med staff and Heart to Heart volunteers to jot down some of their thoughts as they worked with HHI just days after the storm. A few excerpts follow.
DW HHI


 

 

There are so many people in need… Everything from newborn babies, sore throats, ordering meds for patients who need their prescriptions, narcotic withdrawal, staple removal, Coumadin level checks… just at the Manhasset shelter. I had scribbled on a piece of paper a list of meds I wanted, epi pen, Benadryl, Advil, Tylenol. The next morning I was told my van had arrived with my supplies. I walked outside expecting a box (I was so excited) and could not believe what I saw. It was the Heart to Heart Mobile Medical Unit! Two stretchers, portable monitors, EKG machine, a wall full of meds, a list of meds I wanted to order and they arrived the next day! THIS ORGANIZATION IS AMAZING!!! Stop by Manhasset High and check it out!!!
– Lisa Lynch, CRNA – Nassau Co Medical Reserve Corps

♦♦♦♦

I am a volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps providing medical care for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Being able to volunteer my time has been such an incredible experience. Some of these people have lost everything and to be able to give them hope for the future is so rewarding. I am so thankful… Heart to Heart International is available for the community. I don’t know where these people would be without them.
The first day I was here we did not have the Heart to Heart International Mobile Medical Unit so we had to make due with what we had. I was able to see what a difference having the clinic made to the quality of medical care that the patients who needed our help received. The patients were now able to be supplied with medications and check up for those with Diabetes and Hypertension. We were able to give them the care that they deserve.
Jessica Stein PA-C, Family Practice and Pediatric Urgent Care

It has been a remarkable experience, and a great pleasure, to provide assistance to Long Island area residents affected by Sandy. I volunteer with Heart to Heart International and am part of the team that arrived… with the Mobil Medical Unit filled with medical supplies and care kits for those in need. The Red Cross medical teams that we have partnered with have been so grateful for the meds we had on board and immediately available; it was like watching little kids on Christmas morning when they first came aboard the MMU.
Helping these great volunteers utilize the MMU and serve so many in need in these first few days following the storm has been a real blessing for me. We have provided a unique place for the medical personnel to examine, treat and bring peace of mind to the residents of the shelter, and I am proud to say I was able to be a tiny part of that kindness.
– Phil Meiers, Heart to Heart International, volunteer MMU driver

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On Monday October 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Our community of Manhasset, New York was badly affected. On Tuesday the American Red Cross set up a shelter at our local high school. The shelter held 300 clients. The outpouring of relief help has been overwhelming! From the incredible staff at Heart to Heart – Dan, Warren, and Phil – who with their compassion, stamina and huge hearts made such a difference in the lives of so many.
We are all so blessed for what we have and for the generosity of so many angels.
– Kathleen, RN

♦♦♦♦

Tears came to my eyes when I saw the enthusiastic energy of Heart to Heart International as they came rolling up with their level 2 trauma facility to this shelter. Clients didn’t want to go to an ER for treatment because they didn’t want to be separated from each other, after losing their homes and all their belongings, they were willing to risk having no medical care to stay with their families.

With Heart to Heart International, it was like, if the client wouldn’t go to the medical mountain the medical mountain came to them. As days went by I saw smiles come to theses beautiful displaced faces of our clients as they started to feel medically better and knew that there were people out there that truly cared about them. When the parents felt better – the children felt better and the energy of hope was resurrected.
Dan, Warren and Phil, with Heart to Heart, came from Kansas City to New York… and brought the gift of humanity, hope, caring and medical security… these guys are our angels. We could never have done what we did without them. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And may you forever be blessed with a trail of sunshine wherever you go!
– Dr. Valerie Mokides, pediatrician

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