Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy health news...

One of my favorite parts of my job is reading the thank you letters we get from former patients and their families. Hospitals are a last resort; you only end up here if everything else has failed. And that generally means you're in dire straits. So it's always nice to get notes from the people who walk out our doors well. Things do go wrong and that makes you sad, so hearing from those who had things go right makes it better.

A lot of the bad news coming out of Haiti now seems to be related to survivors' health, from crush injuries requiring amputation to the smallest of cuts turning into raging infections. The US and other countries have been helping with the injuries, but recently the US put a hold on medical evacuations due to concerns on the pressure they would put on our health care system. The Boston Globe reported on a group of doctors who went around that obstacle by flying three children with tetanus, pneumonia and third-degree burns to Children's Hospital in Philadelphia on a private plane. All were critically ill and would have died soon without the evac.

We have Haitian staffers in all of our hospitals in my health system, and many of them lost contact with family and friends after the quake. Some still have not reached their loved ones. Yahoo! News posted a first-person account of a group of TIME reporters who helped a friend send money to her 94 year-old great-aunt. France St. Fleur came out of the quake okay, but she was living in a tent outside her badly damaged house. The article details the challenges the team faced with tracking down St. Fleur when all their landmarks to her home were demolished.

One of the unfortunate consequences of natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti can be the rampant spread of disease. Microsoft's Bill Gates has pledged through his foundation to donate $10 billion over the next decade to finding vaccines. He and wife Melinda made the announcement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to a short article on MSNBC.com.

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