Four Long Island Plastic Surgical Group (LIPSG) surgeons are traveling to Haiti to assist in the medical relief effort following the devastating earthquake.  Two weeks after the quake, many victims are at risk of needing amputations due to untreated infections.  LIPSG surgeons, experts in wound management, will focus on treating these wounds with the goal of avoiding amputation.

Dr. Rachel Ruotolo and Dr. Tommaso Addona arrived in Haiti on Sunday February 14, 2010. 

February 17, 2010

5:55 PM

Dr. Addona and I have completed our leg of our medical mission and are on our way home.   It was an unbelievable trip.  We not only worked at the Good Samaritan Hospital (doing mostly wound care, dressing changes, skin grafts, burn care, and treatment of facial fractures) but we were able to travel into and help out at Love A Child.   Love a Child is a large tent facility set up to care for the acutely ill and unaccompanied minors.   We also visited their off site refugee camp, which currently has 300 inhabitants (100 of which are children) and is expecting hundreds more in the next few months.  We traveled into Port Au Prince and saw firsthand, the immense devastation that has engulfed this city and its people. 

Our job during our trip ranged from operating, to local wound care and dressing changes, to helping to transfer medication between the hospital facility and the refugee camps.  It appears that at the current time, most of the acute care has been unbelievably managed by those who preceded us (innumerable orthopedic injuries) and now the majority of the work is focused on long term wound care, physical therapy (to rehabilitate injured and burned extremities) and prevention of infection. A major focus while we were here was on the upcoming rainy season and the concern for those in tent cities and the increased risk of infection due to sewage, malaria, and widespread contamination.  

It is clear that the challenges ahead, although possibly a change in focus from acute injury stabilization to rehabilitation and prevention, remain great.  

10:53 AM

We operated yesterday at Good Samaritan Hospital then drove to Haiti and went to a refugee camp. This morning we operated at Good Samaritan Hospital again and are now on our way to Port Au Prince to see patients at Love a Child.

 

February 11, 2010

3:00 AM

We were in Port Au Prince today visitng other hospitals to see whether they had any needs for plastic surgery patients.  We visited the St. Damien hospital for children and the Love Child camp that provide treatments for over 200 patients.
We then had a chance to see the total devastation in the heart of the capital with thousands of Haitians in camps set up around the town. We then started an operation on a 13 year old boy who had been caught under the rubble at home for 3 days and had lost his brother and sister. We spent the next 4 hours cleaning his multiple wounds and infections of the chin, hip, thigh, knees, and toes.
We were able to use a tissue flap to help save him from a below the knee amputation. It is now 3 AM and he is resting comfortably in the recovery room. We were also able to connect two young girls with arm amputations with our parters, the Global Medical Relief Fund to obtain prosthetics back home.

February 8, 2010

4:43 PM

We just took care of a woman who had been under the rubble for four days. Our main goal is to save her from further amputation as she has already had two toes amputated.

11:54 AM

We arrived at the Good Samaritan Hospital at 7:30 AM and have been operating non-stop. We’ve had 6 cases so far. There are lots and lots and lots of horrible wounds. However, we continue to be lifted by the great spirit of camaraderie between all the doctors and nurses.

3:01 AM

We arrived safely in the Dominican Republic, and we’re now driving toward the Haitian border in pitch black, escorted every once in a while by stray dogs and the flashing lights of trucks in the opposing lane. We hope to make it to the Good Samaritan Hospital by 8am as we already have four patients scheduled for surgery.