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Thursday, April 28, 2016
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home : haiti journal : haiti journal articles April 28, 2016

2/18/2009 8:00:00 AM
Getting started
Line of waiting patients wraps around church
Haiti facts
Area - 27,750 square kilometers

Population - 7.5 million

Birth rate - 34.06 per 1,000

Death rate - 13.36 per 1,000

Population growth - 1.67 percent per year

Doctors - 1 per 10,000

Infant mortality - 76 per 1,000

Maternal mortality - 520 per 100,000

Under 5 mortality rate - 76 per 1,000 live births

Life expectancy - 53 (female) 50 (male)

Access to safe water - 46 percent

Access to electricity - 4 percent (rural) 92 percent (urban)

Below poverty level - 80 percent

Unemployment rate - More than two-thirds outside formal economy

Illiteracy rate - 47 percent

Official languages - Haitian Creole (100 percent) French (20 percent)

Source: CIA World Fact Book, UNICEF

Editor, The Sentinel

BELLADERE, Haiti - Long before the blanc medicos make their way downstairs for a breakfast of stout coffee, pasta, hard-boiled eggs, fried plantains, salad and peanut butter, perhaps 100 patients are lined up waiting entry to the clinic.

Somebody says, only half in jest, that the crowd looks like they are waiting for the last plane out of Saigon. There will be a big line every morning.

The crowd fills the two benches by the parish hall doors, continues north along the east side of the church, wraps around the steps on the north side of the church and ends at the dusty street on the east side of the building.

Many of them are standing belly-to-back. Many have walked from the village of Roi Sec via an overland route that takes two to four hours.

The docs and their helpers make their way past the patient patients to the parish hall.

Bob Weaver is sort of the bouncer. His job is to keep order, admitting folks into the ill-lit parish hall and directing them to benches inside.

His wife Nancy and Christina Ciresi, a nursing student, will weigh the patients on a pair of old bathroom scales and take their blood pressure and temperature with modern electronic probes.

The information is logged onto the patient's sheet, which he or she carries into the exam room. There one of the primary providers - Drs. Carlton Huitt, Tom Lee and Ben Sulit and nurse practitioners Warren Penrod and Donna Woodward - work with interpreters to see what ails the patients.

Nurses Pat Woessner and Lora Slone act as pharmacists. They measure worm medicine, count out pills, figure doses according to body weight and, importantly, make sure that interpreter Janvier understands what to tell the patients about their medicine.

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