Physician tells of working in 'chaotic hell' (Haiti aftermath)

Patients are arriving by foot and oxcart and the U.N. has at least a hundred unused vehicles and a dozen helicopters flying around dignitaries with no thought apparently given to providing medical transport.

The most frustrating problem is little communication between hospitals. At Medishare we had four orthopedic surgeons with light surgical loads. We found out just down the road they were sending patients home with femur fractures who were told to come back in two weeks. No central organization is helping to manage the supply of health professionals.

I flew down with a group of 200 college students with no association with Project Medishare — probably the most frustrating aspect. They came down to “help out,” each at a cost of $500. They had no construction or medical skills. When you realize $500 will keep two Haitian children alive for a year, watching anyone arrive that is not trained is aggravating. Funding the sending of carpenters or one bulldozer would have been 1,000 times more effective.

I’m glad Chile is prosperous enough to have weathered its earthquake without losing its institutions. Haiti seems to be a long nightmare. I worry about the coming rainy season - the relief agencies have decided to issue tarps to the survivors, not tents.

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