After two days of observing and talking with the residents, attending physicians, nurses, and others, we got a good sense of what was going on. I witnessed many different kinds of cases. In the CCU, I participated in a trauma case where a pickup truck with 5 people in the back of the pickup rolled over. All came to us. I witnessed how they triaged two to the CCU and three to the ER. It was a beautiful scene, as Haiti does not have a triage system or a trauma center mentality.
Later that day, the senior resident came to me and asked me if I’ve ever seen a dislocated jaw. I smiled and said I had. I asked him, is it a young girl who could not close her mouth after yawning? With wild eyes, he said, “Yes! How did you know?!” Funny, the things you see as a resident in emergency medicine. I told him to put her in the CCU where we could mildly sedate her and reduce it. He was very excited. We gave her 5mg Valium IM, and 15 minutes later I taped up his thumbs (you sometimes get an accidental snap of the jaw, causing the patient to clench down on your thumbs) and he mostly reduced her jaw on his own. It was a fun, very gratifying procedure. The patient was extremely happy.
The physicians and patients in Haiti are amazing people. Their stories pre- and post- earthquake make me remember why I initially came. Their resilience is why I continue to come back.