Alison Smith is a medical student at Tulane University who will be posting frequent reports from Haiti to the MTV Newsroom blog this week. She has also forwarded reports from some of her peers, who are doing medical work on the ground in affected areas.
By Alison Smith
The General Hospital in Port-au-Prince is slowly becoming more organized. When I think of how it was the first night I arrived (no physicians and no real medical care) to what we have now (seven operating rooms, medicine wards, a pre-operation and post-operation area, a pediatrics area), it is amazing.
Thanks in part to the media attention we got from Bill Clinton's visit yesterday, the U.S. has designated the hospital as the central medical facility in the city. We will not be able to deny any medical care to Haitians, which is much better because some people were being diverted away from our facility due to overflow. We are going to have a helipad and many troops securing the perimeter starting tomorrow. Once the USS Comfort docks, we will be able to fly people there for medical care.
The boy that [CNN's] Dr. Gupta visited last night is still alive and we hope he holds on until tomorrow so we can fly him to the Comfort to get more medical care. We are still seeing many acute injuries from the earthquake people who haven't received any treatment in a week. People are still searching in the rubble for relatives.
Today I finally had the opportunity to go back and reassess people sleeping outside the hospital who may have received some basic medical care right after the earthquake. I was able to go back and change dressings, provide medicines and send people into the hospital who would have died in the next few days. We have limited food and water and some clothing, so I am trying to provide some to people who have no family. They are at the greatest risk for dying soon, as they have no one to care for them and we have no room for them in the hospital. We are supposed to get food and water for the patients tomorrow. There is a United Nations supply center that has food and supplies, but the Army has not brought them to us. The situation was more tense today as people are getting frustrated and we narrowly sidestepped some riots.
One boy I met today was in an orphanage when the earthquake happened. His name is Jeanyte. He has a traumatic brain injury from when the building fell. He doesn't know his age, where he is or really what happened to him. No one outside the hospital has been able to provide care for him because of the dire situation. I was able to assess him, change his dressings and gave him food and water. I told him to stay close so I could look after him for the next few days until we are able to deal with orphans. I feel like today I was finally able to step back from the situation and have a little bit more time to talk with the people, hear their stories and provide them with some compassionate care. In the first few days, we did not have this luxury. I pray that we can continue over the next few days to be able to provide and advocate for the most vulnerable here.
Josh Denson, 25, Tulane University Grad '06 and third year medical student at Tulane, Wednesday (January 20): "I just woke up today sleeping on the concrete by this pool at some hotel to either an aftershock or an earthquake. The pool water was moving back and forth and the people were yelling a bit. There are sick people everywhere, people are losing limbs and different parts of their bodies constantly. Everyone has infections and there aren't people or resources to even change all the bandages. Compared to three days ago when we first showed up at the general hospital in Port-au-Prince, it's 100 percent better. Three days ago was absolute chaos."
Head here to learn more about what you can do to help with earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti, and for more information, see Think MTV. Join George Clooney and Wyclef Jean for MTV's "Hope for Haiti" telethon, airing commercial-free Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET.