PUBLISHED ON September 21st, 2010
Uniformed Haitian Men – each with a shotgun in hand – guarded the University of Miami’s Haitian Hospital where we spent day 2 of our journey. When the doctors approved our arrival they opened the large metal gates and we immediately recognized encouraging differences in the organization, sanitization, and cooperation (not to mention the higher population of patients) compared to the previous hospital.
We got to work and all 24 enthusiastic Pest Management Professionals split up into teams to address the key target pests – mice, mosquitoes, flies, ants, and cockroaches. Our combined expertise made for a productive day! Within the first 4 hours of our arrival we had extensive IPM tactics completed – treated the perimeter of the property extensively, dropped tablets into stagnant water to kill mosquito larvae, excluded the buildings with hardware cloth to seal off holes in the structures, installed rodent bait stations, fly bait stations, Rodent glue boards…and much more! Soon after laying the glue boards we had caught at least 4 mice…within an hour we had excited doctors and hospital staff seeking out our volunteers to show us the progress that we had already made.
Boucard Pest Control’s technician, Sonel – who will be carrying out the pest control needs at this hospital after we’re gone – began his training today as he rotated between the pest management teams. Sonel used to work at the Haitian airport in air traffic control before he came to work for Terry’s family after the earthquake. He was eager and attentive and spent a lot of his training time with Pierre, our only French speaking teammate from Canada. Sonel told us that he was learning a lot about how to help protect this hospital from pests – his ability to learn quickly and his dedication made our hard work and efforts worthwhile!
Mosquitoes were abundant and obnoxious – after hearing about the several cases of Malaria that had taken place that week we spent the rest of our day building and installing mosquito net screening for their windows. With limited resources – a combination of duck tape, PVC pipes, and screws we made the most effective mosquito proof screens possible. The installation process was slow – having to adjust to the inconsistent, and often unstable structures – we installed about 10 windows in the last few hours of our workday…but we found a groove and knew we were better prepared for our 3rd day.
Like any American hospital, emotions co-existed here today…we witnessed hardship in the weak, the sick, and the injured mixed with the excitement of new life, health, and gratitude. The difference between our American hospitals and this popular Haitian hospital is that the sick outweighed the healthy in large numbers and the doctors had limited space and resources – not to mention the abundance of pests that contribute to the spread of disease.
The University of Miami has developed an amazing hospital and medical program in Haiti – the volunteer doctors that contribute so many sleepless hours, love, care and hope to the desperate Haitian people that come through their gates was incredibly inspiring. We had the opportunity to meet many of them and heard remarkable stories about their experiences. So many of them expressed their gratitude and excitement for the mosquito netting screens and overall protection from pests – as they showed off their countless mosquito bites. We didn’t know it was possible but they made our trip and experiences even more rewarding!
After the long day we headed to the hotel, exhausted (smelling not so fresh) and ready for dinner.