Posted by: calloftheandes | July 26, 2011

IV Line Begins Patients’ Paths to Relationship with Christ

Above a cacophony of noises, a siren punctuates the drone of a nearby bulldozer and the steady flapping of the plastic tarp walls of a cholera treatment center (CTC).

Three male patients have been brought from a Port au Prince hospital to the CTC operated by Samaritan’s Purse at Cité Soliel, Haiti. Tall, underweight, severely dehydrated and with sunken eyes, the trio is laid in the triage tent. Immediately IV’s are started in both arms for one already near death. All three receive large infusions, called boluses, of saline solution.

It was not entirely clear why they’ve been transferred, other than perhaps to die. “I thought that the patient was dying of AIDS,” recounted Dr. Paulyna Orellana, singling out the patient most gravely ill. “But after a short time he began responding well to the IV’s,” continued Orellana, an Ecuadorian family physician and surgeon. She was one of five female Ecuadorians who traveled to Haiti with an HCJB Global Hands team led by Dr. Richard Douce, an infectious diseases specialist and medical director at Hospital Vozandes-Quito.

Perhaps a more likely explanation for the transfer to the SP facility was due to its reputation for turning death to life through prayer and an IV line, along with an attitude that every Haitian’s life matters.

The Haitian man whose life was returning as saline solution dribbled through the IV was also possibly tubercular, according to Orellana. Within hours however, his recovery was such that as staff discussed moving him to a vacant ward he arose at a friend’s prodding and walked to a vacant bed there.

Of over 19,000 patients treated since the CTC opened (first in another location) with the late 2010 onset of cholera, mortality has been 0.7 percent. Other organizations had reported mortality rates of 2% to 5% throughout Haiti’s cholera epidemic.

Throughout the weekend of July 11 and 12, the saline solutions continued their healing effects on the three patients. On Monday, Orellana talked earnestly with two of them. A miracle had occurred, she told them. Would they now consider why God had their lives to be saved, she asked.

Given a new chance at life, these two patients committed their lives to Christ. Another had left by the time the photo was taken.

Encountering their willingness to pray to receive Jesus, Orellana cautioned them. A commitment to Christ would mean denouncing voodoo practices to manipulate spiritual powers. Two of the men then prayed to receive Christ, with Haitian chaplains following up with more thorough explanations of what it means to be a Christian.

The saline solutions of the IVs were coupled with a spiritual component that is vital to complete healing. Orellana credits principles learned while studying “The Saline Solution” with other healthcare professionals in Quito. The study by a U.S. family practice physician, Dr. Walt Larimore, encourages healthcare professionals toward spiritual conversations that he says many patients desire of their physicians, but do not know how to initiate. Larimore serves as an HCJB Global board member.

Other Ecuadorian team members too are preparing themselves for work as cross cultural workers through Corrientes, the Spanish-language word for Currents. It is a mentoring program that HCJB Global and other agencies established with Ecuadorian churches. Team members Clara Chuma and Juanita Buñay are nurses who’ve been improving skills in language acquisition and other areas since Corrientes was launched in late 2009. Also, an emergency room nurse Ruth Telenchana accompanied the Haiti team. Her fluency in French has served well during short term stints (along with Orellana) at Pioneer Christian Hospital in Imfondo, Congo-Brazzaville and in Haiti. The fifth Ecuadorian was Dr. Ana Gabriela Villacrés, now in her second year in HVQ’s family practice residency.

Nurse practicioner Debi Lammert with Dr. Paulyna Orellana

“They functioned as a team already,” observed Debi Lammert, a Tulsa, Oklahoma nurse practitioner who has supervised a steady stream of volunteers during her short-term stints with Samaritan’s Purse in Haiti. “That was nice because they helped each other. They easily interacted with each other.”

Along with Telenchana’s French, the Ecuadorians displayed some proficiency in English to cross language barriers and communicate with staff who then communicated in Creole to patients. Their native Spanish came in handy too. Lammert referred one Haitian grandmother who knew Spanish to Telenchana. Their subsequent conversation together lasted some 20 minutes. Emotional needs were met and stories exchanged as patients passed the time. As time provided, the Ecuadorians also worked on learning basic phrases in Creole.

The CTC offers rudimentary medical care that saves people’s lives, but not the luxury of laboratory tests or x-rays. Lammert observed of the Ecuadorians that “it was evident they could work in this setting. You’re dependent on your clinical skills. It’s impressive to see people using their clinical skills and being confident in them.”

Staff listen to discussion after an announcement that the cholera treatment center at Cité Soliel would close.

During the team’s July 5-19 trip to Haiti, the patient index steadily declined to the single digits. Then SP closed the facility, referring a few new patients to its nearby Bercy CTC or to a treatment center operated by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
At a July 15 closing ceremony, a Haitian pastor led the CTC’s national staff in singing Creole hymns. After a prayer Justin Dennery, a registered nurse and SP medical program director, recounted the New Testament story of the Good Samaritan.

Asking his audience to consider which role they played, Dennery listened as a few of the CTC staff voiced answers before the crowd of some 80 people. Simultaneously, security personnel were meeting in an adjacent building. Then Dennery told the national staff they had served as Good Samaritans in the Cité Soliel community.

“You carried the sick; you gave the medicines; you held the babies,” Dennery related. “It was you that saved thousands of lives. You have showed Cité Soleil love. This has been the best year of my life.”

At a closing ceremony at the Cité Soliel cholera treatment center, staff opened with Creole hymns and closed with prayer.


  1. […] Cholera, accompanied by diarrhea and other symptoms, is a disease long faded from media headlines about Haiti. However, it still stalks Haitians, killing them by dehydration. “The cholera has been mutating,” Cortez explained, “It’s a different kind. For the rest of the world you cannot see anything [on this topic] in the news anymore, but daily, people are still dying.” This health threat in La Bruyère has created a push to complete the clean-water project begun earlier this year. […]

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