Monthly Archives: October 2013

Operating Outside the OR

Yesterday was another busy day for me here in Port-au-Prince but not in the OR for a change. Started early at 7 AM with lectures to the public medical school orthopedic residents. These students are eager to learn and their enthusiasm fed my energy.

Broken Earth is creating a new partnership here with the Haitian State University and the General Hospital.  The team will be regular teaching via the telemedicine system to local students and medical professionals. This is so exciting and is truly part of Broken Earth’s long-term goals in Haiti. What’s that saying about teaching someone to fish?!? This sustainable education lecture circuit will be a huge benefit.  The residents were engaged and appreciative of Dr. Squire and Stratton’s lectures.  

Back at the hospital, physiotherapist Dan Martyn was up early helping our latest femur fracture to walk and as a result was discharged today. Another little win.

Had a full schedule of meetings in the afternoon. First off with the Minister of Health and the Director of Health to ensure we are meeting their requests and needs. Then it was off to a meeting with the contractor for the new building.  I know this is important stuff, exciting too, but to tell you the truth I’d much rather be in the OR. You’re literally hands-on with a dedicated team and making a difference.

It’s tactile. It’s immediate.

You see the results, good or bad, right away.

Gotta be more patient and understand the bigger picture.

Back home, all the little trick-r-treaters and getting ready to head out. Missin’ that for sure. Well, on to the next meeting… Happy Halloween all!




Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Every stone’s throw created a ripple.

I’ve been lucky to meet some truly talented people. Outliers. Originals. The kind of people that inspire you by how they’ve made a difference simply by being themselves. Alan Doyle and Brendan Paddick spring to mind. And Andrew James O’Brien is one as well. Andrew is an award-winning musician with a big heart. He’s always been a huge supporter of Broken Earth and has joined us on our latest mission to Haiti to experience it first hand. That takes guts. But for an artist like Andrew, there is no other way.I asked Andrew to write a guest blog for us. Please, have a read.

– Andrew Furey


It’s 12:38am. I’m lying under a mosquito net listening to a child cry. Our bunk room is adjacent to the emergency room, which has been full of activity every day since we arrived here in Port au Prince. It’s tough to hear that sound and not want to get out of bed and help.  My personal qualifications are limited to say the least but the nurses that work the night shift are the best at what they do despite the heat, Mosquitos and the limited resources at their disposal. It’s a surreal thought to think that that child may not make it through the night but equally profound to know that he has a team of tireless and heroic people doing all they can to help him through to morning.

I have seen things here that have changed me in many ways. I’m still trying to make sense of everything down here. The poverty and day-to-day adversity that these people face is staggering. Mental, physical and spiritual duress is constant and seemingly unrelenting. Yet in the face of all this they are resilient, determined and stoic. Fathers stand over their children’s beds until nightfall then sleep uncovered in the open-air courtyard until morning when they return to the bedsides again. Unwavering love.

Patients don’t shout praise from the rooftops. They don’t thank surgeons on their hands and knees for the invaluable service they provide. Instead, they are quietly, deeply thankful. Their’s is a stoic appreciation. Their silence is intensely profound. They are tough and strong willed. They have to be.

I am grateful to the doctors and nurses. I, admittedly have taken for granted, living in Canada, how immensely crucial their services are and seeing them work here in Haiti with limited resources, less than ideal work spaces and literally thousands of patients who all deserve their attention, is absolutely incredible. They work with what they have and when they don’t have what they need they problem solve and push though.

This group consists of some of the most incredible and vital people in the world.

Inevitably, they’ll all return home to their regular jobs and, no doubt, their work will on some level be taken for granted by the ordinary public like myself. Perhaps that’s nobody’s fault. We live in a society where we come to expect their service without thinking or concerning ourselves with what that entails.

I know what it entails now. I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s branded on my brain.

I want to thank them. All of them. So does the man who’s femur was reinforced so he can walk for the first time in three months. So does the mother who’s infant’s heart can pump blood on its own again. So does the girl who had a cleft lip and was kept away from the rest of society. She smiles now.


These doctors and nurses do this on their own time, for free, away from their families so that some of the millions of displaced Haitians can have a chance at life.

Dr. Greg Browne, General Surgeon said to me, “We can’t and won’t save everyone. Not even close. But maybe we’ll save the person who will have the answer to all these problems down here”.

Every stone’s throw created a ripple.

– Andrew O’Brien




Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


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As Long as We Have We…

Sometimes you have to stop and look at the people you’ve surrounded yourself with and count yourself as lucky that you get to work in their presence. I believe nurses are amazing people. I’m lucky to work with some of the best here.  The team started today with a bang.  The OR was buzzing immediately, Orla and Tina have barley had time to recharge but they find the energy somewhere.  Rochelle and Michael in the peds unit started with Leigh Anne and Natalie resuscitating a baby. Always tough to see for a parent, for anyone really. Little fighter pulled through.

You can always count on Jackie Connelly to be in the ring. Jackie continues to be the glue for the team… coach, mentor, supporter, soldier… she’s working hard in the ICU and putting out fires all around us. Our nurses are all cut from that cloth. The emerge nurses are working together even when they are off. It’s a solid lesson in teamwork for all of us

Scott Wilson an adult ER doc thought he was running a pediatric unit with three very sick babies at one point! That changed very quickly with a three-person polytrauma car accident and an adult code all at one time.   Four acute sick patients in a three-bed unit. I’d like to say that’s abnormal, far from it.

Trying to keep up on our mandate of making education an important part of what we do here. Last night I met with the Dean of the local medical school and we are going to try and set up regular telemedicine lectures for his students and teachers. I like to think of it as investing in Haiti’s own team for Broken Earth.

Been long days here so far. Lots done. Lots more to do. I hear it’s been cold back home. Thinking about the kids. The support at home. The support at work. You got to surround yourself with a team. That’s how you do it. My kids love the Grinch. There’s a great line at the end… “as long as we have we.”

– Andrew




Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Day 2: Little wins…

Amazing what a few good hours of sleep will do for you. Was up and at it early today. There’s no shortage of work and this is no vacation. The peds nurses had a rough night loosing a child but with the new day comes new beginnings with an early c-section and the welcomed cry of a newborn. A little win.

At the hospital where there’s already 5 total hip replacements booked for neglected injuries. Some of these people have been in traction for months. Either way, they are here, now, and after a couple of weeks of recovery their life will change. That’s a little win too. I believe in little wins.

Little wins can add up. Went to the general hospital today and it’s really reassuring to know we are improving care beyond what they have access to here. You can see the changes all around you. You can see hope coming back, little by little but it’s there.

This team is pumped. Dr. Rideout had a busy clinic and booked lots of cases already. He’ll be non-stop for sure. Dr. Squire and Dr. Straton have been in the OR for most of the day on a long complicated case. Andrew O’Brien is doing what he does best… lifting spirits with music. He sang to the spinal care unit and sang “Happy Birthday” to a patient. You should’ve seen the smiles.  Andrew’s also been pitching in as an orderly in the OR.  Such an amazing effort all round.

It’s only the second day but it already feels like we’ve accomplished a lot. More to do. More cases. More people to reach. More little wins to celebrate.

Keep all your good thoughts and well wishes coming… they keep us all going.

– Andrew



Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


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So Southward Bound

It was 3 degrees early this morning when I made the trip to the airport. I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to the balmy climate in Haiti! More so, I’m looking forward to picking up where our Calgary team left off.  Those guys did an exceptional job on their 2nd mission.

Got a special guest joining us on this trip… Andrew James O’Brien. Andrew’s played both Rock Ops and has always been such a great supporter of ours. I know this will be a life-changing experience for him as it has been for us all.

These early rises are always tough. Mobilizing 30 people is like organizing a small wedding sometimes. Ended up with some tight connections, especially in Toronto, but I gotta thank Air Canada for holding the flight for us.

This all makes for a long day but the team made it to the hospital in Port-au-Prince and immediately got down to business. We’re all exhausted but just coming through the gates here really amps up your energy. Dr. Barter is running the ER as we speak. Pediatrics has already seen three sick kids. Nat and Leigh Anne are doing an amazing job there.

I’m hoping this will be an early night.

Get a little shuteye. Recharge.

Mission begins for real in the AM.

Night all.






Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


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