Case study: AirMed International provide an urgent response in Haiti
With the current civil and political realities in Haiti, citizens are required to remain in place to await proper medical care. Often, the outlying medical facilities are ill-equipped to handle high-acuity complaints and, even when able, still depend on supplies and resources from Port-au-Prince to appropriately care for patients. AirMed International is able to come to the aid of these patients and local healthcare providers.
In one case, a young Haitian had complications from a medical event that resulted in numerous health conditions that were beyond the capabilities of local resources. When AirMed was contacted for a potential transport out of Haiti, many factors played a role in bringing that transport to fruition.
The clinical state of the patient had to be determined so that a fit-to-fly status could be determined. One of the life-maintaining resources that was unavailable locally for this clinically complex patient was total parenteral nutrition (TPN). The patient was in a malnourished state that was causing further medical complexities. The local contact and medical team knew that her best hope for recovery was to get to the United States for definitive, maintained care.
AirMed was the fastest way to that recovery, but there were challenges. The patient would have to be granted a visa to the US to be able to be transported. Typically, the process can be very time-consuming, but based on the dire need of the patient, she was granted one quickly. Before that process could even begin, however, the patient had to be transported via air from the outlying area to a facility near the US Embassy, so the process could be initiated.
AirMed’s normal mission procedure is that our flight teams, once at the referring location, go to the facility where the patient is located, so that true patient-care hand-off can be obtained and continuity of care maintained. It also allows AirMed medical teams to see the current treatment environment. The civil unrest in Haiti would not allow AirMed teams to follow this normal process. In Port-au-Prince, no-one can leave the airport without armed-guard escorts. Because of this, a ground transport from the facility to the airport for the AirMed team had to be arranged.
Care was assumed in the back of that ground transport and the patient was prepared for air transport back to the United States. Within three hours of the patient’s departure from Port-Au-Prince, the airport was breached by protestors that were protesting the recent killing of police officers. If there had been any delay in AirMed’s rapid response, the patient would not have received the care she needed.