Tuesday, July 13, 2010

By John McHoul


It has been six months to the day that the earth shook and in that 35-43 seconds of time it is estimated that three hundred thousand people died, hundreds of thousands were injured, tens of thousands of homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed and over a million people were left homeless.  All in less that one minute of shaking.

Can any nation be truly prepared for such a cataclysmic event?  I suspect not, and Haiti a nation with little infrastructure  and unable before the earthquake to meet even the basic needs of its people was rendered stunned and helpless by this catastrophe.  Even as the international community rushed to give assistance,  they encountered a government that was largely broken and unable to help facilitate the enormous amount of aid and aid workers being held back by a lack of infrastructure and a working government.   And now six months later the struggle continues as humanitarian aid is being held at the ports while exorbitant customs fees must be paid before the containers can be released and the supplies made available to assist people who otherwise would not be able to secure help.

I have copied some links below that may help you understand some of what is happening here





Progress is being made albeit slowly and seemingly without a plan.  Yet volumes could not contain the heroic acts of kindness and bravery of the Haitian people and the international community as they worked to rescue those still trapped alive under falling buildings and to treat the injured.

It is not by intent to criticize the cleanup and rebuilding efforts that are slowly coming into play.  The task of just cleanup alone is enormous.  I want to tell a bit of what Heartline has been doing.


A few days after the earthquake the Heartline people here in Haiti met and talked and prayed to see if there was a need for us to open an emergency clinic.  We also went into the inner city to see if there were still people who had been injured and had not been treated.  Little did we know that we would still find such people even weeks after the earthquake.   It was clear that there was still a  need for an emergency clinic and in what I can only attribute to God, Heartline four days later opened its clinic with a group of docs and nurses that came in from the States and Canada and we started seeing people with horrific injuries and in the primitive settings the docs performed some pretty amazing procedures.  This clinic continued for about 3 weeks where we saw hundreds and hundred and people that were injured in the earthquake.  And with the tremendous support of the Heartline people in the States, medical personnel and supplies just kept coming during this remarkable, amazing, hectic time.

After about three weeks we were no longer seeing as many patients with severe injuries due to the earthquake and now we faced some hard questions. What do we do with the patients that need aftercare?  Can we really send some of them back to their inner cities homes in such fragile conditions?  What about those that no longer have homes?  Should we open up a field hospital where we can offer aftercare?  It was ultimately my decision and yet I was probably the one who understood the least what that would mean.  And yet there was no other choice.  We had to see this through to the end for each patient.  And that decision has brought us to places and relationships and struggles that we could never had imagined. 

Some nights we would have up to 100 people sleeping at what once was the girl's house and now it became our field hospital.  Most people would not sleep inside due to the fear of aftershocks and so the yard would be full of patients on mattresses that we rounded up and then on cots that we had brought in.  We still needed a steady supply of docs and nurses and physical therapists and supplies and the Heartline people in the States worked tirelessly.  We estimated that we would keep the Heartline Field Hospital open until March 1st.  Well it is July 12th and we are still open with several patients still with us.  We of course had to feed and care for the patients and so we needed a lot of help and resources and wow did people who heard the cry of a nation respond with finances and by coming and giving of their love and hearts to the broken, crushed and wounded.

We as well developed relationships with other organizations that would take some of our severely injured patients and from whom we would take from them patients that needed aftercare.  There were several articles written in which Heartline was mentioned as a place where the patients received loving quality care.  God was doing some super stuff and was honoring our effort to do the best that we could, relying on Him and honoring Him by caring and loving those that He entrusted to us.  These were uncharted waters for us and we clearly knew that we had to trust in God.

Probably the most rewarding things is the relationships that we have developed with the patients.   And the Heartline Field Hospital truly became a community.  We are still open as we have patients with lingering infections, others who are getting used to their prosthetic limbs, and other that will leave us after we put up a new home for them and then there will be a few that have become a part of our community and will be with us for years to come.



We have often written about Amanda who suffered severe injuries to her leg and left arm when the three story house next to her one room cement house fell on it while Amanda was inside.  She was dug out by neighbors and brought to several hospitals until she found a home at the Heartline Field Hospital.  It is Amanda that we are working and praying to get into the Mayo clinic for the specialized surgery and care that she needs for her arm.  We are still working at it and very much need your prayers and support.


Patrick pictured above with Dr. Jen is the 14 year-old boy who was hit by an out of control truck during the earthquake. He suffered a severe fracture and even with several procedures on his leg, he has had a lingering infection that won't go away.  We were concerned that he could lose his leg if he was not able to get treatment that is not available in Haiti. And so through the combined efforts of several people, the organizations Healing the Children and Heartline, Patrick this past week left Haiti for the Shriner's Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts where he will get the care that he could not get here in Haiti. 

Healing the Children paid for the travel for Patrick and a 10 year old boy named Emmanuel who is also being treated at the Shriner's and Heartline paid for the ticket for the escort to travel to Haiti and bring the boys to Shriners.  Heartline will also help pay the expenses of the host family as they graciously take him into their home where he will stay when not in the hospital.   All medical costs are being donated by the Shriner's and the doctors.

I know that many of you have taken interest in our patients and have tracked their progress.  Some reading this blog have been to Heartline and have personally met Amanda and Patrick and know what wonderful people they are and how they demonstrate their trust in God in spite of their injuries.  Heartline for Amanda will pay for airfare to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and the ticket for her escort and help the host family will her expenses.  Her medical care will be donated the the Mayo clinic and by the doctors.  Your help with the ongoing costs of helping Amanda and Patrick would be greatly appreciated.  It is such a wonderful thing to be able to help those that can't help themselves.  I often sit alone in the yard of the field hospital and feel overwhelmed that God has given us the privilege of caring for some who were injured when the earth shook on January 12, 2010.  You can help by praying for Patrick and by praying for Amanda's approval by the Mayo Clinic and by giving to help with their expenses.  Click here to give and thank you for caring!