Global Health Neurology Program - Veronica's Story
Our arrival in Haiti was heralded by soulful Caribbean tunes as we walked off the jetway, before careening through the bustling streets of loose rock roads. Our nurse conversed with our driver in creole and we listened to decipher what words we could, but the bustling streets instead consumed our attention.
We saw the areas hardest hit by the earthquake now five years later, clarifying the arduous process of rebuilding in Haiti, while the near, but distant mountain range seemed to tower over the city in its lush landscape.
We entered the secured, gaited compound, passing the uncompromising guards to finally arrive at our new home.
The following morning, we again navigated these streets during our walk to the chapel. When we arrived at the chapel with abounding enthusiasm, hand woven stretchers lay at our feet. Today and each following day, we would start our day with a funeral Mass, led by the director of the St. Luke Foundation, Father Rick. The Mass helped to set our focus to one of humility and motivated us to make a difference every day. After the service, we hit the ground running.
We started at the pediatric hospital where we saw patients in the “Critique,” (the ICU) and “Urgence” (the emergency room).
By the time we made our way to the adult hospital, the sun was strong and we already had consults lined up.
We cared for over 20 patients that day in the ICU, wards, clinics, and in a street-side tent at both the adult and pediatric hospitals. Each day continued in this way, teaching, caring for the ill, giving hope.
We were able to visit the local medical university where we found students eager to learn and all too similar to American medical students.
This trip and every subsequent trip to Haiti were humbling, enriching, educational, and maturing experiences both personally and professionally. I look forward to taking more teams of residents, fellows, and nurses with me in the future! Mwen renmen Ayiti!
Veronica Santini's Story
The Department of Neurology has also partnered with the St. Luke Foundation and neurologists nationwide to provide a continuous neurologic presence in Port au Prince, Haiti. There is a tremendous need for neurologic care in Haiti with only two Haitian neurologists serving a country of 10 million people. This need only worsened after the devastating earthquake in 2010. With an extreme shortage of neurologists, patients with epilepsy, spinal cord difficulties, stroke, and many other conditions go undiagnosed and untreated. In addition to providing desperately needed neurologic care to the Haitian people, trainees and attending physicians gain exposure to a wide range of pathologies rarely seen in the U.S. and advance their clinical acumen with reliance on history and physical exam findings.