Legacy ER supports Haiti Relief Efforts
(Frisco, July 20, 2010) Dr. Kirk Mahon, a Frisco ER Physician and owner of Legacy ER, a local neighborhood urgent care facility, has recently dedicated his time and efforts in Haiti, helping victims in need of medical assistance still suffering the consequences from the Hurricane on January 12th, 2010.
Dr. Mahon left the United States with a group of physicians to volunteer at the University Hospital Emergency Room, the largest emergency facility in Haiti.
During his journey, Dr. Mahon and his colleagues experienced a variety of medical cases, from delivering a baby to intubating critical patients under very precarious conditions. There was a short supply of a variety of items that are readily available in developing countries, including the lack of blood for transfusions, monitoring equipment and other medical supplies---sometimes even electricity. All nurses and physicians had head lamps on at all times as there was usually at least one time per day that it went completely dark. There was no CT scan available or technicians to operate and read exams, which made some cases hard to diagnose. Due to the shortage of medical supplies, ethical decisions were made on a patient to patient basis. Can you imagine the psychological impact the doctors have to go through when having to make the decision of denying oxygen or other medication to a patient because another might need it more? These decisions about who gets the scarce resources are made on an hourly basis at the University Hospital.
Chaos often ran rampant in the hospital lobby due to the hundreds of patients waiting to be seen. Due to the overwhelming amount of critical patients, shortage of supply and limited staff, patients were sometimes sent home not expected to survive. A lot of times patients were transported home by their family members on a made shift cot. Home for most of these patients is still a tent somewhere within the city. Unfortunately, when leaving their shift for the day, some of their patients would be seen sleeping on a piece of cardboard near the hospital exit.
Many diseases, such as tuberculosis and diptheria, were being spread easily inside the walls of the University Hospital because there were no isolation areas to separate patients that were contagious; this could easily been prevented in the United States and other developed countries. During his experience in Haiti, Dr. Mahon learned that a high percentage of the population had not received routine immunizations. Certain immunizations and medicines are not available in Haiti, so diseases such as malaria and tetanus end up causing the death of thousands of Haitians. Dr. Mahon commented: “ There is nothing out there that could ever prepare you for what you experience in Haiti with all the people needing medical care and all the emotion that comes along with it, it is something that cannot be explained until you are actually there…living it”.
Hand hygiene was another challenge to overcome in Haiti. Running water was not available all day and night, so washing hands between patients was not possible. Gloves and alcohol gel were available, but the idea of not washing your hands between glove changes was unseemly to say the least. Other areas of concern included the heat in the emergency room, which was very intense since there was no air conditioner in the hospital at all.
The Haitian medical providers have not been compensated since the Hurricane struck in January, which has caused a lot of the local physicians to go into strike. This is a major issue in Haiti where the supply of doctors is very low compared to the demand, which has caused Haitians to rely on medical help from other countries. “It was so nice to see the different countries putting their efforts and resources together to help rebuild Haiti and its people…This was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had!” said Dr. Mahon. In the past, he has volunteered with Paramedics for Children during the Tsunami in Indonesia and helped with the Katrina Relief efforts at the American Airlines Center in Dallas where a large emergency clinic was set up. He currently helps the Dallas Life Foundation on an ongoing basis, a homeless shelter in Dallas that provides a free monthly medical clinic. Dr. Mahon also works with the Collin County Medical Reserve Corps, helping with the volunteers training for local disasters.
Dr. Mahon can be found at Legacy ER, your neighborhood Urgent Care facility ready to handle all your minor and major emergencies. Legacy ER is located on the Northwest corner of Legacy Drive and Main Street, open 7 days a week from 9:00am to 9:00pm. Legacy ER supports the Frisco Community as well as the Haiti Relief efforts. For more information please visit www.LegacyER.com