The scene inside the Port-au-Prince hospital is almost a "war zone," with injured people, triage areas and medical personnel in full trauma mode, a local doctor says.
The grounds outside are not any better and "are filled with tents covering the walking and non-walking wounded and staffed by docs, nurses, paramedics and other medical and nonmedical people doing stuff they never thought they would do," Chattanoogan Dr. Chris Moore e-mailed from Haiti.
Two local doctors and a nurse from Erlanger hospital arrived in the Caribbean country Monday night after last week's devastating earthquake. They now are working alongside two Italian teams of surgeons.
"Honestly, almost every patient we see was injured in the initial earthquake which has now been eight days ago," Dr. Moore wrote in the Jan. 21 e-mail. "To see these incredibly severe injuries that have had no attention for eight days is sad and depressing."
The local team includes Jennifer Ohle, surgical nurse and preoperative services director for Erlanger Health System; Dr. Chris Young, an anesthesiologist with Anesthesiology Consultants Exchange and board member of the Signal Mountain-based American Haitian Foundation; and Dr. Moore, developer of the Odyssey Company on Lookout Mountain.
Vanessa Young, Dr. Young's wife, said she "received a call from him (Wednesday) night. That's the first and only time I've heard from my husband."
With the help of Global Outreach International, a missionary organization headquartered in Tupelo, Miss., the group was able to deliver supplies donated by Erlanger and to treat people for infections, bad gangrene and femur fractures, according to an Erlanger news release.
"The almost unbelievable number of femur fractures we have seen which are, for the most part, yet to be operated on, is overwhelming, not to mention that this is just at the hospital we are in," Dr. Moore wrote. "Then there are the very sad, necessary amputations which, when considering what conditions and quality of life they go back to, are even more poignant."
Several local groups now are working in Haiti including:
* The Chattanooga-based Children's Nutrition Program has a staff working in Leogane, which officials report was 90 percent destroyed.
* Cleveland residents Joan and Ray Conn, founders of The Restavek Foundation, are working in Petionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, looking for the children they support and feeding those in need.
* Members of the American Haitian Foundation, based in Signal Mountain, are working in the village of Petite Riviere de Nippes, about 70 miles from the capital. Their school is serving as a feeding station.
Mrs. Young said her husband told her it's staggering how many people need help and that, due to that need, the local team has decided to extend its stay from Sunday to probably Wednesday.
"As tough as the situation is, they obviously thought they were doing some good since they wanted to stay," said Dr. Moore's wife, Ellen. "He wants to be right where he is right now."
The team originally arrived in a compound about 15 miles north of Port-au-Prince, according to Mrs. Young, but because it was hard to get the patients to their location, they decided to treat them in the city.
They are working from the Little Brother Little Sister hospital near the U.S. Embassy, about an hour away from where they are staying.
"The upside lies in the ability to serve and knowing that we are making some difference, definitely saving some lives, and letting a whole nation know that people care," wrote Dr. Moore.