God in Heaven. I started to read the list of medical equipment and supplies you are shipping to the people of American Samoa and my eyes bugged out.
American Samoa says thank you!
I just received this email about our shipment to American Samoa and had to share it. Those of you who have been helping pack this up in such a timely fashion will be delighted to think of all we are sending when you read it! Thanks again for all your wonderful efforts to put this together. Your heart will "rejoice and be glad" when you read this letter. I left the rough inventory on at the end of this series of emails just for fun. Janice
Dear Janice and Project SAVE,
God in Heaven. I started to read the list of medical equipment and supplies you are shipping to the people of American Samoa and my eyes bugged out. You have met my patient's needs with gifts I didn't even know to ask for.
Today we found our hyfrecator busted. No technical expertise to fix it, so minor procedures are now impossible in the Surgery Clinic. I've seen at least 20 patients since I arrived who would have benefited from VAC wound dressings. We have none. There are two orthopedists on the island (one arrived today, another is leaving). They are missing critical supplies. There are no crutches. Few walkers. No canes.
There are a total of six CVCs (central venous catheters) on the island. We've started rationing them for ICU patients. We have no radial artery catheters on island. There are zero Pleurevacs on the island since I used up the last one on my five-year-old with the collapsed lung and pus in his chest. I have a few chest tubes left in limited sizes.
My 5-year-old needed one but there weren't any. Ventilator tubing is in perpetual short supply. I don't wish to think about the infectious consequences of reusing the circuits. Hair covers for the O.R. ("bouffant caps") have been on back order for weeks. No Bair Huggers to control patient temperature. Never had 'em.
This week, we ran out of disposable gowns for MRSA spread prevention. Your shipment solves every one of those shortages. (If I listed every other clinical problem that your donation solves, this email would go on for 6 pages.) Janice, this shipment represents a dollar value that exceeds the annual equipment and supplies budget for the LBJ Tropical Medical Center. I can't imagine
what else you will add to the list. It's like eight nights of Chanukah plus Christmas all in one shipping container.
"Humanitarian effort" doesn't begin to describe it. Maybe "Herculean generosity" is close.
Senator Aanestad and I often talk about how to measure success, especially when I get frustrated with snail's pace progress. As surgeons, we're kind of results-driven. I took the lessons he shared with me in Sacramento and have tried to measure success in American Samoa in little victories.
Like today, when after two months of my begging, the housekeeping staff finally cleaned the black mold off the walls in the staff lounge on the Surgical Ward. Victory! And a piece of equipment that's been broken for over three months may finally be repaired this week--the parts were delivered. Success! But your shipment is not a little victory. It's Olympic gold.
Please pass along this message of gratitude to everyone involved for the hard work done to make this happen. God bless you and Project SAVE and Enloe Medical Center and the Enloe Foundation and Rotary and Chico, California. And the angels disguised as Legislative Staff members who connected all the dots. And the proud future Grandfather of twins who always seems like more of a surgeon than a politician to me.
Too choked up to write more.
P.S. Can I mobilize some of my contacts to volunteer to help you pack and load the container? If you like, send the "when" and "where," and I'll dispatch the minions.
P.P.S. I forgive you for not including coffee. Two weeks ago, a visiting Flight Nurse from a medical evacuation team gave me a pound of 10% Kona from Hawaii. Oh, Happy Day!