It was really encouraging going back this holiday season to Haiti with a small team consisting of four dental students, one premed student and two dentists. The young people in this group were a particular gift for me as a very senior health provider since they all have a heartfelt interest in missions and public health. They and the young woman dentist in our group (who just completed a tour in our US military) joyfully worked long hours with little break and always with a smile.
There also appears to be more substantial improvement in the areas in Port au Prince that we managed to see- drainage ditches running properly, newly lined with stones, rivers with much less debris, the people residing in tents reduced, with new homes being built. More local people working on these projects. Perhaps the new President will be more helpful to the people. There is still much protest by the people and a long , long way to go to improve the quality of life.
Our patients as previously had many of the same issues, severe untreated hypertension, dental pain, chronic coughs. Since I personally triaged this year, I became aware of another problem. Many patients taking aspirin for chronic stomach pain due to hunger! It is a vicious circle sometimes. We were able to refer some cases to Dr Jen, from the University of Minnesota, who was coming to Haiti shortly after after us. She has done so much for the Haitian people as she works with Heartline Ministries .
The patients, as always , were gentle and sweet , waiting long hours, and after that if they were not seen, patiently returning the next day. We were able to see slightly more than 200 dental patients at triage, several being referred to medicine for more pressing issues. Dentally there were extractions , prophys , restorations and many fluoride treatments. We treated patients both in Port au Prince and in Seche Ravine a tiny coastal town.
The plan to establish the local school Fl rinse program is on track with the manager from Heartline in Port au Prince now returned to Haiti. Several NGO’s will be participating after Heartline’s program is established. The state of Mass. generously agreed to share its teaching materials so that we could properly train people in Haiti.
Many thanks to Henry Schein Cares for supplies and its encouragement to this program and others like it. You have made a great difference and we appreciate it!