Monthly Archives: March 2015

Where do you find the energy?

Where do you find the energy? Do you hit the gym a lot? Eat right? Do you have a good sleep schedule? Have you hit the sweet spot for a proper work/life balance? Are you happy? Where? Where does your energy come from? Sure, it can be any of those things. They’re all positive. But the best energy out there comes from one simple source… people.

We are hitting our peak here. Everyone’s firing on all cylinders. The OR has been so busy seeing case after case. Everyone’s working together.  And we have been privileged to have residents from two teaching programs in Haiti working with us all week. That kind of hands-on education will go a long way.

Pauline and Linda have been flat out in the ER today too for what seems like a busier day than usual.

The teaching has been extensive. Jackie secured brand new training mannequins for this trip and they have been in constant use.

Anesthesia and Dr. Sampson have done resident teaching rounds every morning.  Dr. Boone talked on general surgery diseases to med students. Dr. Smith did a casting session.  Dr. Martin and Dr. Cashin travelled to another hospital at 6:30 AM to teach.

These are the people that create the energy that drives Team Broken Earth. Their commitment, their never-say-stop attitudes. That’s the fuel.

It’s hump day today. Can’t believe how quick the week is going. But mid week is when you always could do with a boost. Today, that boost was the arrival of a container from home.  Sponsored by Rotary St. John’s and facilitated by Canadian Medical Supplies. We can’t thank you enough for this. It’s like Christmas for healthcare fans… it contained badly needed monitors for the ICU and a new intra-operative X-ray machine.

Second wind is achieved all round. Bring on the rest of the week.

– Andrew

Ps. Tell me: where do you find your energy?

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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


The place where typical does not exist.

A lot of people have asked me what a typical day in Haiti is like. The answer always evades me. There’s nothing ordinary about this place. Some nights, it’s as quiet as a church. Other nights, you can hear a gun shot in the distance and you’re quickly reminded that this is not a vacation, no matter how much you love the heat versus the snow back home. This is Haiti. Anything typical was buried here long ago.

The team worked hard all day.  And after seeing over 60 patients yesterday, it was now time to operate. The OR staff saved two lives today…one from a gunshot wound with injuries to multiple veins. The whole team clicked into action… from Carlos in the ER to Lisa, our radiologist.  Then straight to the OR where it is like symphony, every one working as one. And today that concert was conducted by Dr. Pridham and Dr. Boone.

In the very room next door, separated by a window that opens, the resident team of Dr. Smith and Dr. Decker were amputating an arm of a 16 year-old boy with cancer. The procedure saved his life.

Emily, our physiotherapist, was busy in the spinal care unit working with para and quadriplegics. And then there’s the real fuel of the machine. The nurses.  I have always said they can do a lot without us. But we can’t do anything with out them. Here and at home, I have so much respect for them. So much to thank them for.

The flow of patients never stops. And it’s heartbreaking to see the faces on the ones that are turned away at the gate because the hospital is at capacity.

A typical day in Haiti.

I hope some day that will exist.


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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


When the groove is good.

Each update made me more and more excited. Sometimes pictures are just not enough. We are building something. It feels like we’re taking something back from the earthquake’s devastation. Putting a foundation down. Literally, a foundation. A footprint that says Team Broken Earth and our amazing supporters like Columbus are here in Haiti to stay. This new building represents such a big part of our aspirations here.

I can’t help but draw similarities between the new building and our teams. Both started from an idea and have grown so far beyond what we expected or hoped.

Our team is now composed of over 500 people from across the country.  The building – a discussion with our good friend and tireless supporter, Brendan Paddick – is now up to the second floor.

The team is a cohesive working unit.  The building is now a design of working support structures all leaning on each other for support. The team will make an ever-lasting effect on patients… the building, on the face of Haiti.

The teams continue to grow as will the new infrastructure for this country. We can all be proud of that.

Of course it’s business as usual here. Well, Haiti’s version of usual, which means non-stop. The new ER doctor, Brook Saunders, has received his baptism by fire. The surgical team has not stopped with a full day of clinic in two hospitals.

It was good to watch as Dr. Rideout consulted with new patients. They all offered the smiles he’d soon make perfect. And that in turn made us all smile.

– Andrew

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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


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One too many mornings…

This is all too familiar. Early, early rise. Drive to the airport in the dark. The cold still biting. The city’s still asleep. The airport lit up like a greenhouse.

This can be the toughest part sometimes… times when I am not so psyched about the trip. To be honest, sometimes I am just exhausted. Dead tired. Worn down. Sometimes, it’s because of the bureaucratic weight of the teams and the organization and keeping everything in motion. Sometimes it’s just too many balls in the air and the tension of making sure nothing drops. Sometimes, I just want a break. Order a pizza. Binge-watch the latest season of House of Cards. Sleep late.

It’s bright inside the airport. Start seeing the familiar faces. The smiles are big. Even bigger are the smiles of the flight agents checking us in. They know all about the team and love to see us coming. There are hugs and coffee and laughs. There’s an energy. An indescribable excitement building with each team member arriving. And that is it. That’s the turning point. It’s the team. It’s the immediate sense of the team that makes those previous feelings fade instantly. Kevin Spacey will have to wait.

Another 30 people. Another 30 families and loved ones, giving up their vacation time to help. That gets me every time! Even though some of the trips become routine, standing here in the airport, watching people make this sacrifice, well, it’s humbling.

I’m a lucky guy. I’m blessed by the energy and support of my own family, who give more than I will ever know. I am inspired by each and every team member, and I’m overwhelmed with a feeling of humility from the support we have received from people across the country. I feel a responsibility to not let them down. To honour their generosity.

I know that there is a lot to do. A lot to accomplish. I know that there are lives to change… patients and our own. I’m ready. Let’s get this mission going!

– Andrew

PS. We all read your Tweets and posts and messages of support. That’s what fuels us for a week in Haiti. Thank you for that and please keep them coming!

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Posted by on March 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


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