Today Was Life Changing

Have you ever had a life changing moment? I cannot say that this was my first life altering moment but certainly without a doubt today was life changing. After a long day of travel over the mountains, medical guideline review, and a tour of the FOTCOH facility, I was a bit nervous for today. The very first patient that I saw today was a 4 day old male who was born at home who has never seen a physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, midwife, EMT, or any other medical provider. Let me repeat, I saw a 4 day old patient today! It is a pretty special feeling to be the first medical provider to take care of a child. Instantly, I made an impact on this child’s life and will never forget that feeling.

As an emergency medicine provider in the United States, I am used to patients not only having a specific complaint but a waiting time anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. Has anyone ever had a patient spend the night sleeping on a concrete pad to see a provider for 10 minutes and perhaps just receive vitamins? No CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, labs, and barely a full set of vital signs? That was my day today.

Ultimately, patients in Haiti are not only grateful but they are truly poor as well. No, not Sept 2015 Team Patients Waitingthe poor of Peoria who live in subsidized housing with endless food and medical care but those without a home who have never seen a provider. These are people who haven’t had food or fluids in days. These are the kind people who are well dressed and happy to be alive. Imagine a neurosurgeon who has hands like Van Gogh and eyes like an eagle but no operating room. Today as an emergency medicine provider, I felt very similar because I had a patient who could not breathe. It is tough when one has infinite knowledge and a small tool belt.

Haiti is humbling. Whether you are an accomplished academic physician or taking a blood pressure for the first time you will have a moment of awe, respect, aand fear while in Haiti. I have never been to a place that I could have an instant impact within one minute of meeting someone. I will forever be appreciative of those who have been a part of the this trip and those who care for the people of Haiti. God bless America and God bless the people of Haiti.

Martin R. Hevesy APN
Jane R. Perlman Fellow
Northshore University Health System
Division of Emergency Medicine