This morning, a strong aftershock earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince, temporarily slowing down the growing momentum of achievements to bring relief to the beleaguered country.
About 35 miles west of the capital city, and measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale, the aftershock forced an evacuation at the general hospital (HUEH), where PIH had been coordinating efforts to restore services. Up until then, the PIH team had set up, staffed, and supplied 12 operating rooms in the facility, which had been performing surgeries around the clock.
“The earthquake was very scary for the people here,” said Dr. Evan Lyon, who has been helping to coordinate logistics for PIH and its partners at HUEH. “There were people jumping out of windows to get out of the building, a number of them broke bones doing this.” After the tremors passed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended all action in the hospital so they could inspect the building.
In addition, PIH’s hospital in Boucan Carré, located roughly 2 hours north of Port-au-Prince by car, reported structural damage. “All patients are outside,” reported Dr. Louise Ivers, PIH’s Clinical Director for Haiti. Surgical services were also temporarily suspended at PIH’s hospital in Hinche (roughly 3 hours from Port-au-Prince) while the building was evaluated.
However, services quickly resumed. PIH staff and volunteers across the country continued to identify, triage, and treat patients despite the aftershock setback. At HUEH, the hospital building was declared structurally sound, and the hospital was back up and running in a matter of hours, said Dr. Lyon. However, the hospital is now “back in crisis mode,” he added. “People are still really scared of another earthquake.” HUEH is also preparing to evacuate patients by helicopter to a hospital with electricity, running water, and fully equipped operating rooms safely outside the city.
Additionally, shipments of volunteers and much needed supplies both arrived today, with several more planes and trucks scheduled for shipment this week.
Over the past few days, PIH and its sister organization Zanmi Lasante (“Partners In Health” in Haitian Creole) successfully helped organize 20 operating rooms across Haiti to treat patients injured in the earthquake. Since the earthquake, PIH’s 12 pre-existing medical facilities across the Central Plateau and Artibonite Regions of Haiti have been caring for the many patients fleeing the devastation of Port-au-Prince. Since Saturday, PIH has been helping the Haitian Ministry of Health restore services at HUEH, the largest hospital in Port-au-Prince.
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