If you're lucky enough to know Andrew then you're lucky enough to know he's the type of guy who likes to help people so it really came as no surprise to me when he told me that he was going over to Haiti. Of course, I had to ask him why he chose to go and got the answer that I was expecting to hear, "I became a medic to help people and there is no one in the world who needs help more than the people of Port-au-Prince as they have absolutely nothing." Even though this was going to be the first big separation of their marriage for Andrew and his wife Bethany (who is a nurse for the Plainfield Public School System), Bethany supported Andrew unconditionally in his choice to go over to Haiti for a week and provide what aid he could while she stayed home with their two children, AJ and Lea, and missed him every single minute of every single day.
Since October there have been over 2,000 cases of cholera - an infection of the small intestine that causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that will quickly dehydrate its victims and lead to death if left untreated. The best treatment is with an oral rehydration solution but in severe cases intravenous (IV) fluids are a patient's best chance at survival and that's what the Backus Relief Team was there to do. As paramedics and registered nurses put in more IV's than doctors do, it was decided they would be the ones to make up the Relief Team and travel over with Dr. Alessi to assist Father Rick at the Saint Philomena Rehydration Center.
Even though Saint Philomena's has a death rate of less than 2%, not all of their patients survived in spite of the Team's best efforts to provide them with much-needed fluids; Andrew said that he knows of at least three that died while they were there. If there is no family to consult or if the family of the patient who has died wishes, their body is taken to the chapel located at Saint Luke's where a funeral mass is said the next morning. The patient's body bag is covered with a cloth that has been decorated with a cross or holy picture and flowers are placed on top. After the Mass they are cremated at the complex's own crematorium.
If you'd like to see more of the pictures that Andrew took while he was in Haiti, please visit the Picasa Web Album where I have posted them for him. Some of the pictures don't have captions but hopefully you'll be able to tell what it is you're looking at. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them here in a comment and I will make sure that Andrew gets them. Also, if you'd like to help any of Father Rick's programs, please visit CompassionWeavers.com where you can find information on all of the programs at Saint Luke's. Unlike the government of Haiti, Father Rick and his staff are doing something positive for the people of Haiti and I'm sure they'd appreciate any and all help.
In the meantime I'm going to continue to be very proud of my "handyman" and very, very honored to have him as a friend. Andrew is definitely one of the good guys!