Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Beginnings

Four days in and I would really like to write you a novel, but I will stick to some more information about L’Hopital Sainte Croix and the Nursing School.
I had my first look at L’Hopital Sainte Croix earlier this week. The staff was skilled and efficient and the wards clean, but the hospital itself is very different from what I am used to. Patients are housed in one of three wards: women, men, children. In each ward, there are between eight and ten patients, all about 2 feet apart from each other. The rooms are crowded with friends, family, nurses, and nursing students (2nd and 3rd year nursing students intern at the hospital during the summer). It was hot, crowded and loud.
The other thing that is incredibly difficult about L’Hopital Sainte Croix is that about half of it is not being used. Even before the earthquake, Sainte-Croix did not have the money to hire enough staff to operate at full capacity. For a while, they were just operating an outpatient clinic. Now more areas have opened but still almost half of the hospital space and equipment remains unused and the waiting room remains very full.
I have also learned quite a bit more about the nursing school. It was founded in 2005 by Dean Alcindor and has since graduated 70 nurses. It is the only Baccalaureate level nursing school in Haiti, meaning that it is the only nursing school that trains students for  the equivalent of the American RN. The students have internships or classes from 8 am to 4 pm and intern at a few different hospitals in the summer. They are very busy! They study Biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, endocrinology, urology, ob/gyn and basically every other medical specialty that you could imagine, in addition to English, French, and ethics. After they graduate, most students look to work with NGOs in Haiti. Only three of the 70 graduates have left Haiti, which is a point of pride for the program. 
“Why do the nursing students need to know English?” was a question I heard (and asked!) a few times before I left the USA. The answer is that, according to the Dean, the best nursing books and manuals are in English. Additionally, she brings in instructors from the USA, so it is beneficial for the students to know English to be able to understand the lessons. Finally, with the large humanitarian presence here, English is being spoken more and more.
 As for me, my job description keeps getting bigger! I will be teaching English to the nursing students a couple of mornings a week, as well as co-teaching a biology course in French. My main task at l’Hopital Sainte Croix is going to be organizing the medical records so that they can be accessed quickly and easily, which Dean Alcindor says is going to be quite a task. Finally, the local Episcopal priest has asked if I will teach an English class about once a week at the Episcopal Secondary School. Looks like I am going to be busy!
Because we all know that the most trafficked blogs are food blogs, let me talk to you about food for a moment. In case you didn’t know, it is a wee bit warm in Haiti. The best way to combat this? The AMAZING selection of tropical fruits and juices that keep coming across my plate! Super juicy watermelon, bananas, sugar cane and these strange green pods with this sweet jello-like fruit inside I had never seen before! Fresh squeezed lime juice, passion fruit juice, and carrot juice! Teas made with fresh herbs and hot chocolate that tastes strangely similar to that which they make at the Lambertville Trading Company.

If anyone is looking for a good book about recent Haitian history, I just finished and enjoyed “The Big Truck That Went By” by Jonathan M. Katz. He mainly discusses the international response to the earthquake and cholera epidemic. I will warn you that the author does not have many nice things to say about either of these, but it is a good history of recent developments in Haiti.

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