Haiti earthquake diary: At the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, it's Haitians serving Haitians

Since the earthquake, the mostly Haitian medical team has treated hundreds of people, operating 18 hours a day. Haiti's recovery may feel like a sprint now, but it's going to be a marathon.

Tuesday, Jan. 19

Albert Schweitzer Hospital is about 3-3 ½ hours outside Port-au-Prince. There are 16 full time doctors, all Haitian except for one Swiss.

Since the earthquake, they’ve treated more than 600 people, operating 18 hours a day. They stopped taking statistics days ago. They've done more than 150 operations, says Ian Rawson, whose parents founded the hospital 56 years ago.

Ian’s a kind man whose very blue eyes tear up several times during the morning. He has a heart for Haiti.

One thing he’s particularly proud of is that it, although some international reinforcements have come, it’s mostly Haitians serving Haitians at the hospital.

Emmanuel François is an orthopedic surgeon. Since Sunday night, he figures they did 20-30 operations in a 36-hour period, mostly amputations. Normal would be 5-6.

The pace comes with a price.

The young surgeon looks weary, speaks slowly.

“I try to put myself in the patient’s shoes, and know that I wouldn’t want to have a limb amputated. I had a 31-year-old woman, not married and no kids. 'What man will accept me,' she asked, and I told her: 'If you don’t do this, you’ll die.' It was tough.”

I feel exhausted just listening to the stories here. I have to remember, for myself, too, that this isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.

---- For all stories, blogs, and updates on Haiti after the earthquake, go to The Monitor's Haiti page.

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