“Help me! My baby fell off a tap-tap and his leg is broken!”
The story – a common one in Haiti – is, this time, not real.
The “baby” is a plastic mannequin of a toddler wearing navy blue sweatpants three sizes too big and missing an arm; his “mother,” a tall blond Canadian pediatric nurse. The “nurses” hurrying to help are Haitian nursing students demonstrating how they’d respond when a mother arrives in emergency with her injured child.
Though the story line is make-believe, the benefits are real – Haitian nurses will be better trained to deal with this kind of emergency when it happens because they’re learning through hands-on simulation training.
This kind of teaching is the key reason that Team Broken Earth’s nurses and doctors come to Port-au-Prince.
Four years ago, when Team Broken Earth was founded in the aftermath of the earthquake, Haitians needed surgeons, doctors, nurses and physiotherapists from other countries to fill the enormous gaps in the beleaguered Haitian medical system.
But, today, efforts are increasingly focused on building the local medical system local healthcare workers. For Team Broken Earth, that’s meant a shift from practicing medicine here to teaching it.
Over the last four days, Canadian nurses and doctors have taught nursing students and nurses, medical students, surgery residents and local physicians. Sometimes, they squeeze into tiny single rooms on the hospital ground, or take students across the street to the vacated building across the street. They’ve taught outside under tents, in hot sweaty ORs and in the frenzy of tbe emergency department.
Suzanne Westcott, a nurse who has been down to Haiti three times with Team Broken Earth, said she’s spend more hours teaching on this trip than any before. This last one has been the most rewarding – “and it’s because of the teaching.”
“I feel like I’m not just filling a role; I’m really giving back. It’s like it’s a flooding river. When you come here just to do clinical work, you’re plugging a hole somewhere. But when you teach, I feel like you slow down the flood.”