ICS Fellow Reports on Haiti Earthquake

February 2010

Dear ICS Fellows,

I am back from a long and busy week working for my fellow Haitians. I have to say that the conditions were difficult and I have learned a lot of lessons. Too many physicians of all specialties are in Haiti but not all are needed. During my stay Trauma surgeons, Orthopedists, Plastic surgeons were the most wanted. In another time, Psychiatrist and Physical therapy physician teams will be the most welcome because of the amount of mangled extremity necessitating onsite or secondary amputations.
 
The flow of patients has greatly decreased for the reason that because of the absence of functional operating rooms with complete aseptic conditions. We acted on performing surgery on complicated wounds untreated or previously treated with debridement and external fixators (casting, etc.) We may have as orthopedists to plan to manage mal-union and delayed union of fractures in the future knowing well that conservative treatment is not the present state of art of many of the fractures seen.
 
Physical therapists and Orthotists will have a strong role in the wellbeing of the Haitian once the infected wounds of the hundred of amputees have fully healed and can stand the pressure from a prosthetic limb.
 
In conclusion, this is my report from being in Port-au-Prince. I have tried to reach Edouard Bontemps, the ICS Haitian Section President, but I was not successful. He did send me an email telling me that he will meet me on the Hospital grounds, but we were not fortunate to do so.
 
I can discuss with you all other details but also remember that we need to have a Charter flight and a place to stay...The best way may be an association with organization like the Red Cross or the USAID who are running the show in the country. I went there as an AMHE Physician (Association of the Haitian Physicians Abroad) and we were ill prepared but we worked hard on the field...
 
PS: Nurses are essential in controlling the ICU, post-op care and different wards, taking care of patients in helping with wound care...medications..TLC...etc
 
I went to Haiti with my two sons and some of their friends and I realize also that as EMTs they played an important role in translation, in bringing patients to different places like Xrays, OR, different wards...Pediatric nurses and physicians are in demand because of the amount of young injured kids without their parent to look after them..The list can be long and I will stop here.
 
Sincerely,
 
Maxime Coles, MD, FICS
 
Dr. Coles is originally from Haiti and now practices Orthopaedic Surgery in Coffeyville, Kansas. He has been a Fellow of the ICS since 1989.