Alison Smith is a medical student at Tulane University who will be posting frequent reports from Haiti to the MTV Newsroom blog this week. Today she offers us an account of the renewed chaos set off by Wednesday's aftershock.
By Alison Smith
On Tuesday night when we departed the hospital, we were very optimistic: Supplies were coming, more doctors were arriving, we finally had organization and we were going to be able to fly people to the USS Comfort for medical care. We were the second medical team here and our progress has been incredible.
However, Wednesday morning we awoke to a 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered 35 miles from Port-au-Prince. The building we are staying in shook and many people went running into the street screaming. We arrived at the General Hospital to find chaos, as every patient had been moved outside after the earthquake and could not be moved back in until the Army cleared the buildings for safety. People were in a panic and we had lost any system that we had in place from all our hard work over the last few days.
So many people were crying saying that they were going to die. Everyone was sitting in the hot sun and we had to work desperately to get them water and try to tend to the sickest and weakest patients. Many more injuries occurred from the fresh aftershock. We had one boy brought in who had been trapped in a house since the earthquake eight days ago. He was very sick with many traumatic injuries, but we were able to get him to surgery and he is currently in stable condition. I hope he makes it through the night.
It was a day of gains and losses. We had many babies born today, but we also had many people pass away due to the extreme conditions. However, we did get a great deal of help today from all over the world and after struggling all day long, we were able to put all the patients back into their rooms before sunset. Many refused to go inside because they are afraid of another earthquake. We still do not have food or water for the patients, X-ray capabilities or a way to transfer patients out, but we are slowly regaining ground. I hope that tomorrow will be more of the step in the right direction and we can resume building this medical facility with the amazing Haitian doctors and nurses here.
I stayed late and worked in the emergency room. We had many people coming in who were very sick. We had one patient come in with tetanus, which unfortunately many people are developing due to the dirty conditions of their wounds and the lack of immunizations in Haiti. I fear we are going to see more people with tetanus in the coming days. It's a disease that we rarely have in the United States, and a disease that no one should have to get. When the patient came in to the ER, he was very, very sick. He was shaking and having difficulty breathing. We tried to do what we could, but unfortunately he did not make it. I stayed with his wife and held her as she cried when they removed the body. I tried my best to comfort her and tell her that he was comfortable now.
People here are suffering so much, trapped in this misery. But many are finding the strength to smile and laugh, and they ask us about ourselves and our families back in the U.S. We hear women singing at night in the hospital, which always brings a little bit of hope at the end of these very difficult and emotionally draining days.
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.