March 3, 2010

Doctor's regret: 'My work here is not done'


(Continued from page 1)

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Dr. Ralph Saintfort, center, a psychiatrist and Konbit Sante volunteer, and colleague Dr. Gena, left, talk with a local radio host in Cap Haitien about mental health issues related to the earthquake that destroyed Port au Prince. Photo Courtesy Konbit Sante.

We have set up an agenda for the week that includes (a) local radio program discussing mental health issues related to the earthquake, (and) two separate sessions for group counseling for house staff and administration. They, too, need some intervention to process what has taken place. They are dealing with the same issues that I have encountered among those affected by the earthquake.

I do not want to forget this. I have reconnected with Margarette. She is the psychologist we met previously working on the CDC AIDS project. She has joined me along with the two psychologists mentioned above. She too saw patients with me.

At the end of the day I did do some didactic with them on PTSD, GAD, PA, and MDD. We touched based on bereavement issues also. I have found some Creole screening questionnaires for PTSD. I plan to start using that today . . . more on that later.




Hi Mac. I have been pretty busy, and I am feeling pretty useful. The system I've developed at the local gym is working quite well. The volume of people I have provided services to has increased significantly. I had several young students in a couple of groups today. They are devastated by (the) loss of friends, family members, school and their teachers. Many of them feel a great sense of despair over their future . . . no education equals more poverty. They are lost!

Schools here in Cap Haitien are still closed. I still walk daily to the hospital, but I miss the ambience of the morning rituals that you and I had grown accustomed to on prior trips; kids going to school, parents walking their kids to school, the array of colors of the school uniforms representing various schools. I am heartbroken!

I walk now toward the hospital with more urgency to get to the emotionally wounded, lost, and confused. My Haiti cherie is badly battered, broken, and its people are in great need of comfort and consoling. My work here is not done.

Edy has been a great resource in helping me negotiate with a local radio station to do a program focusing on the psychological impact of the earthquake. Dr. Gena and Dr. Pierre of Justinian Hospital will collaborate with me on this effort. The local radio station has a large audience that also reaches listeners in Port-au-Prince.

They have agreed to record the program and rebroadcast it a couple of times. This will be a great opportunity to do some psychoeducation on the many issues confronting those affected by the earthquake. We will take questions from the audience during the program.

There is more to be done in the days ahead. I will keep you posted.

Best, Ralph


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