Touching Hands Project: Haiti 2014 - Day 2

Rebecca von der Heyde, OTR/L, PhD

Day two of the Touching Hands Project (THP) mission was slated for patient screening and OR setup. Having ordered our breakfast the night before, we shared a team breakfast at 6:30am and sent the team in two groups on the ten minute drive to the hospital. Upon arrival, beautiful voices from the daily morning chapel service welcomed us to the Haiti Adventist Hospital (HAH). Dr. Francel Alexis greeted the team and gave us a tour of the hospital, including the clinics, operating and patient rooms, and rehabilitation unit.

A multitude of patients and families awaited the team, patiently seated in the hallway adjacent to the clinic rooms. Dr. Alexis’ office served as our screening room, while the casting room across the hall offered space for therapy and fabrication of orthoses. The anesthesia and nursing team members headed off to set up the OR while the remaining team members screened patients. At least eight people were carefully arranged into Dr. Alexis’ office in addition to each patient, collaborating to discuss each patient and their needs.


A total of 34 patients were screened, resulting in 9 surgical cases, 5 injections, 5 therapy treatments, and 2 orthotic fabrications. This included 19 adults and 15 children with diagnoses ranging from proximal phalanx fractures to burn contractures, congenital hand differences to elbow dislocations, injuries sustained during the earthquake to those from traumatic accidents. We were intrigued to see 2 patients recovering from Chikungunya virus with resultant polyarthralgia in multiple large and small joints throughout their body.


We were thrilled at the arrival of the missing bags from our flight as they contained essential items such as Dr. Kozin’s surgical instruments and inhalation agents for anesthesia. It would certainly have been challenging to complete our mission without these supplies!

The pool at our hotel is a refreshing luxury to return to after long and hot days in the Haitian climate, and after our swim we shared our second team dinner Monday evening. Local geromou soup (squash and vegetables) has become a popular choice despite the heat, and team members have been enjoying tasso (barbeque steak), grillo (fried pork), and creole chicken served with rice, beans, and plantains. We ended the day looking forward to our first day of surgery on Tuesday.