Friday, February 26, 2010

Guest Post: Day 7 in Haiti

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

Friday marks day 7 of the mission, and the team has designated this day for training and transition so that the next team of clinicians can be appropriately trained and prepared for their work in the days ahead. They reported that all areas of the hospital were very busy, but spent a great deal of the time today training the newcomers. Our team has left all areas organized with supplies, and things are organized by specialty – we expanded the wound care area with an extension tent to accommodate more patients.

Sister Rochelle, one of the chaplains with our team in Haiti, traveled with Dr. Cunningham (Santa Fe) and some nurses through Port-au-Prince to visit an orphanage. She reports witnessing the devastation caused by the quake and that many people are still living in tents, and are working to secure their habitats as they prepare for the rainy season.

At the orphanage, many children came out to their car and took snacks from some of the nurses who brought them along, thanking them in Creole. Sr. Rochelle reported that they have consistently seen the profound appreciation of people in Haiti and their gratitude for everything we’ve done for them.

The team listed 3 things they’ve missed while in Haiti:
1. Ice cubes
2. Running water
3. Flushing toilets

And 4 things they’ve cherished:
1. The team spirit and energy of the 20 members of the CHRISTUS team and their support for each other
2. Advance preparation and organization of the CHRISTUS Haiti Relief Task Force, especially where supplies are concerned
3. Support of entire CHRISTUS family – the team received numerous e-mails and letters of support while in Haiti
4. Honored to be able to answer the call for help

The team also made a list of “lessons learned”:
• The stamina of the survivors of the quake is still unbelievable. They have endured so much, and continue to endure without complaint.
• You can accomplish almost anything clinically with very little, working in heat and temperatures over 100 degrees.
• The things most of us complain about now seem insignificant.
• The extreme gratitude of the Haitian people is also astounding. Our team had incredible volunteer translators in their tents.
• Everything we sent was utilized—the team also distributed all the chairs and sleeping bags they bought to families in the Pediatric ward.
• They will leave the hospital a better place, and remain astounded at the incomprehensible resilience of the Haitian people. They will undoubtedly rebound from the horrible tragedy of the January earthquake.

Guest Post: Day 6 in Haiti (Thursday's report)

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

At the end of their sixth day in Haiti, Dr. Royer identified two major themes that resonate with the team’s experiences in Haiti:
1. They have seen the best of times and the worst of times, with both of those extremes being lived out every day to the fullest in terms of the reality of the situation in Haiti
2. The circle of life seems endless each day. They have experienced far more deaths than births, but four babies were delivered on Wednesday evening.

The Operating Room (OR), which prior to our team’s arrival was operating approximately 8 hours a day, is now open 24/7. The team sleeps when possible and when help is needed, they are awakened. A supplier did send in an operating table; previously, the team was performing surgeries on a wooden table topped with mattresses. The lighting situation in the OR is challenging, at best. The light over the OR table is fixed in one position. Therefore, someone has to hold a flashlight for the surgeon and shine it as close as possible to the wound in order for the surgeon to operate accurately. One physician did bring a headlight and he shares that when he is not using it in the OR.

The team has begun running low on anesthesia. Therefore, on Saturday morning, if surgeries cannot be performed, the team will spend what time they have at the camp dressing wounds before getting packed for the return flight home.

The team plans to work through Friday night until 6 a.m. on Saturday and then begin to pack their things for departure. Their load will be much lighter, as many of the team are leaving most of their clothing behind for the Haitians.

The team has obviously gone above and beyond to provide the best care for the patients in the hospital in Port-au-Prince, giving not only of their time and talents, but also their personal comforts for a week to bring hope to a place in the world that is still in need of it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Guest Post: Meet the CHRISTUS Team in Haiti, Pt. 5

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

Each day this week, we will post photos and biographies of members of the CHRISTUS team in Haiti, as well as a prayer to offer on their behalf.

Dr. Manish Wani currently serves as Chief of Staff-elect at CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital in Katy, Texas. He specializes in Advanced Rhinology and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery. He has two children, and his greatest sports passion is supporting the Houston Astros.

Sheryl Hall, CRNA, currently serves as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital in Katy, Texas, and has 15 years of experience in anesthesia. She loves being a rancher in her spare time, and recently moved with her partner to a home near her sister. They have 3 dogs, 7 longhorns, and 2 donkeys. This is her first medical mission trip.

Karen Carr, RN, is an Operating Room Nurse at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She has 30 years of OR experience and five years of Intensive Care unit experience. She is currently a “go to” all around staff nurse in the OR. She is married and has one daughter, two grandchildren, and a cat named Maggie. It has always been a dream of Karen’s to be involved in a mission trip, however this will be her very first.

Melanie Gentry, RN, MSN, is an Operating Room Nurse at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She has 29 years of Operating Room experience with scrubbing and circulating skills in all specialties, as well as cross-training in PACU and as Charge Nurse. She has recently completed her MSN in Nursing Education. Her current focus is as Surgical Services Educator, but she is also an Open Heart Team member, scrubbing, circulating, and taking call. Melanie is married, has one daughter, and this is her first mission trip.

Please join the CHRISTUS family in praying for our team in Haiti and their work there, as well as all those affected by the earthquake:

Protect Me, O God, For In You I Take Refuge

God of the mountains and the seas, the awesome power of nature can be both a wonder as well as a source of tragedy. We cry out to you in this time of great need for all those who are affected by the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Almighty and everlasting God, comfort of the sad and strength to those who suffer: Let the prayers of your children who are in any trouble rise to you. We lift up those who have lost loved ones, grant your peace; for those who seek shelter and food, grant your comfort; for those facing illness, grant your healing; for those whose lives have been shattered, grant your strength.

God of wisdom and strength, guide the hands of those who provide emergency relief. We entrust to you those who care for the bereaved, those with the gift of healing, those who carry the burdens of moving debris, and those who distribute much needed supplies. Challenging as it may seem at times, their work is very important. Give them the endurance that is needed to continue in their good works.

God of all consolation, in the midst of things we do not understand, tragedy too great to comprehend, and grieving too heavy to bear, grant your peace. This is a time when we welcome your Word of hope born into our world. May that hope burn in our hearts. Amen.

Prayer for Haiti Earthquake Victims

Leader: O God of mercy, look with pity upon all those who have been left homeless, bereft, in shock, in the wake of this mighty act of nature in Haiti. Lord, in your mercy,

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Holy God, who fed your people in the wilderness, whose loving kindness is everlasting, lift the burdens of all who are weary from the search for food and refresh those who are parched from thirst. Lord, in your mercy,

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: O Source of all consolation, comfort with the sure sense of your presence all who feel forsaken, and all those who have lost loved ones. Lord, in your mercy,

Response: Hear our prayer.

Response: Gracious God, you sent your son Jesus to bring sight to the blind, hearing and healing to all who asked, open our ears to all cries of affliction, and through us provide healing and help. Lord, in your mercy,

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Merciful God, you ask us to cleanse our hearts, to loose the bonds of oppression, and to repair the ruins. Pour out upon us the Spirit of your love and generosity that we might pour ourselves out for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti so that they, too, will know your generous healing power. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Guest Post: Meet the CHRISTUS Team in Haiti, Pt. 4

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

Each day this week, we will post photos and biographies of members of the CHRISTUS team in Haiti, as well as a prayer to offer on their behalf.

Aaron Mason, MD, currently serves as a pediatric plastic surgeon at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. He has 16 years of experience in pediatric care. His current focus is cleft, craniofacial, vascular anomalies and general traumatic reconstruction. He enjoys outdoor activities and his 2 mutts. This is his second medical mission trip.

Prescilla Velasquez, RN, is an Operating Room Nurse at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - Westover Hills in San Antonio Texas, which opened in June 2009. She has worked at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa since 1998, starting at the City Centre Hospital in San Antonio. Prescilla has experience in both pediatric and adult cardio-thoracic, neuroIogy, orthopedic and general services. She has been an Operating Room Nurse since 1986. Prescilla is single, and she and her 77-year -old strong, independent mother travel together each year. Last Lenten season they went to Fatima, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, and Prague. This will be Prescilla’s first mission trip.

Randie Villarreal, RN, has worked for 12 years in the Operating Room at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - City Centre in San Antonio Texas. She has a total of 24 years of OR experience, with five of those years as an OR tech. She primarily works in the pediatric open heart operating room. On a typical day, the OR she serves in does about 20 percent adult cases and 80 percent pediatric cases. She is married with one 24-year-old daughter who currently is living in Rome. She has two dogs and two cats. She has never been on a mission trip before, but worked with Hurricane Katrina evacuees who were brought to San Antonio. She feels very blessed to have been picked for this mission trip and can't wait to get started.

Guillermo L. Casipong currently serves as one of the chaplains at the brand new CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - Westover Hills in San Antonio, Texas, and has worked as a chaplain at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital for almost 4 years now. Guillermo was once a religious missionary priest, and worked in Haiti from 1994 to 2007. He is very glad to be part of the CHRISTUS mission team for Haiti, and hopes to use his in-depth knowledge of the country and its people for the benefit of the team and the people they are sent to serve. He asks for prayers for the success of this mission.

Please join the CHRISTUS family in praying for our team in Haiti and their work there, as well as all those affected by the earthquake:

In order to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, we offer prayers for our CHRISTUS family serving in Haiti and those whom they serve. The Scriptures tell us in Hebrews 4:16:
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Let us come boldly to the throne of grace as we ask prayers and intercessions. Almighty and everlasting God, we come before you giving you thanks for all that you have done and all that you continue to do in the lives of the CHRISTUS Health Team in Haiti. We ask for your grace upon them as they serve as both ambassadors of the CHRISTUS Healthcare System but more importantly as ambassadors of Christ. We are called by our Baptism into Christian Vocation which requires each of us to sacrifice for the greater good of all humanity. In this we send the hands and feet of the Christ into the world in the persons of:
Dr. Aaron Mason
Prescilla Velasquez
Randie Villarreal
Guillermo Casipong

Let these, your humble servants in Haiti be the light that the Gospel calls us to be in Matthew 5:16:
“Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.”
We ask you, Lord, that you may grant them the peace of the Holy Spirit and the comfort that God gives to His creation. Give them the wisdom, courage and strength to handle each and every situation; but above all allow that light to be bright in the darkness that the Haitian people face. Let the Haitian people feel your loving arms through the CHRISTUS Health Team. We ask this and add our silent intentions in the name of Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.

Guest Post: Day 5 in Haiti

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

This is the team’s 5th day in Haiti, and the heat and humidity are still hard on those working outside in the Emergency Department and other outside clinics. But even in the heat, the team seems energized! Dr. Royer said it is important to know that our CHRISTUS team is helping wherever necessary, directing many of the areas. The Operating Room (OR) is now working around the clock because there is so much to be done, including trauma. They continue to pull others in to treat patients appropriately, and are getting up during the night as necessary.

The team brought large plastic footlockers full of supplies with them, and fully intended to bring them back so they could be reused in future disaster relief efforts, but Rae Thigpen, who is heading up the OR, asked today if they could use them as scrub and other tables, so the CHRISTUS team will be leaving these storage bins for future groups to use.

Two physicians and Michele Barrau, a nurse from St. Catherine who is originally from Haiti and speaks Creole, accompanied two Search and Rescue NYC firefighters who have been visiting a neighborhood daily. The neighborhood is hard to access, especially by car, and was described as an alleyway that opens into an enclosed area. They found a woman there who has adopted 20 kids, and is about 8 to 9 months pregnant herself. The firefighters have been visiting this woman and these children daily to bring them food, water, supplies, etc. They checked her out as well as another pregnant woman, and treated the kids mostly for diarrhea and some wound care. They will try to bring a pediatrician back with them tomorrow, as well as more supplies. A Christian mission there has volunteered to donate food and water for these folks, so our team is trying to secure a truck to bring those supplies in, but it is still hard to access by car. Dr. Boykin said it was heartbreaking what they were going through, but they were doing as much as they can to ensure this woman could provide for these children.

Our chaplains are on call around the clock, sometimes filling in during night for emergencies. They have continued to travel around the compound, visiting and talking with many patients. This morning, they met with a Rabbi to plan the ecumenical service that will take place tonight at 7. The Rabbi will read a Hebrew scripture, Guillermo Caispong will read from the New Testament, and Sr. Rochelle Perrier will read a response from the Psalms. Then they will open it up for any other prayers.

Last night, Guillermo was called to minister to a mother who lost a grown child. This was the third child she lost since the earthquake. (Two died in the in earthquake, and the third passed away last night.) Guillermo performed a short service and stayed with mom for a while.

Everyone is working very hard. There is not member of team who isn’t working 18-20 hours a day, and filling in where needed. Everyone seems very grateful that they’re there, and the CHRISTUS family is very proud of all of them!

Guest Post: Meet the CHRISTUS Team in Haiti, Pt. 3

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

Each day this week, we will post photos and biographies of members of the CHRISTUS team in Haiti, as well as a prayer to offer on their behalf.

John Cunningham, MD, is an Anesthesiologist at CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has 28 years of clinical experience. Dr. Cunningham is married to Leslie Cunningham, MD, a psychiatrist, and has a son, Alex, who is 23, a daughter, Sofie, who is 19, and two cats and a dog. He has been on mission trips to Guatemala, Nicaragua and Cambodia.

Jordan Post, MD, currently serves as an orthopaedic surgeon at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital in New Braunfels, Texas. His focus is in orthopaedics and hand surgery, and he has been out of fellowship since 2004. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Amy, and enjoys playing with their four young children. This is his first mission trip since medical school.

Molly Hagen, RN, is an Operating Room Nurse at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She has 22 years of Operating Room experience and two years of Obstetrics/Gynecology experience. Her current focus is heart surgery and OR Charge Nurse. Molly is married to Terry, and they have 3 adult children and 2 dogs. She has not been on mission trip before, but is really looking forward to this one.

Rae Shelia Thigpen, RN, MS, is the Regional Compliance Manager at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System in Texarkana, Texas. She has 27 years of OR experience, including 20 years of experience at CHRISTUS St. Michael. Her focus in the Operating Room has been in the areas of open heart, inservice education, and OR management. She is single and has several godchildren who love her dearly. Rae has spent the past 13 years as a medical missionary to San Raymundo, Guatemala, and was asked to serve as Director/Charge Nurse of the OR during this trip to Haiti. The team has already heard rave reviews about her leadership and organizational experience.

Please join the CHRISTUS family in praying for our team in Haiti and their work there, as well as all those affected by the earthquake:

Scripture Reading: Psalm 91: 1-12 (The psalm may be prayed by the group by
alternating verses between Side 1 and Side 2)

Side 1: You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, say to the lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

Side 2: For he will rescue you from the snare of the fowler, from the destroying pestilence. With his pinions he will cover you, and under his wings you shall take refuge; his faithfulness is a buckler and a shield.

Side 1: You shall not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day. Not the pestilence that roams the darkness or the devastating plague at noon.

Side 2: Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right side, near you it shall not come.

Side 1: Rather with your eyes you shall see the defeat of evil, because you have the Lord for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold.

Side 2: No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to his angels he has given a command to guard you in all of your ways. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Prayers of the Faithful

Reader: Lord we pray for the people of Haiti. May they feel your strength and hope, and the loving embrace of the world community, we pray…

All: Deliver your people, O Lord!

Reader: For those still in need of medical care, for those who are recuperating and rehabilitating from surgery; and for the emotional healing of all survivors, we pray…

ALL: Deliver your people, O Lord!

Reader: For the safety of all who are volunteering to bring relief and comfort to the people of Haiti, especially for our co-workers from CHRISTUS Health, we pray…

ALL: Deliver your people, O Lord!

Reader: That the Lord will use the gifts and skills of our CHRISTUS co-workers this day to bring healing, compassion and love. We especially remember today: Dr. John Cunningham, Dr. Jordan Post, Molly Hagen, and Rae Thigpen, we pray…

ALL: Deliver your people, O Lord!

Reader: For all those who have died, may they experience the transforming power of your resurrection. And for their loved ones who mourn their loss, may they receive comfort and peace, we pray…

ALL: Deliver your people, O Lord!

ALL: God of Hope and Deliverance, you promised to be with your faithful when they are surrounded by death, plagues and darkness. Hear the cry of your children in Haiti. Protect them and give them the assurance of your Love and Presence.

Help us recognize the needs of our Haitian brothers and sisters. Give protection and strength to those who are serving in Haiti, and continue to move our hearts to respond with generosity. We ask this in the power of your name. Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guest Post: Day 4 in Haiti

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

There was another tremor at 1 a.m. It was mild, but did frighten several of the staff members. It was still very hot today, but luckily there has been no rain at the Miami hospital, so they have not had flooding like many other camps have. They feel like they’re acclimating to the heat now.

On this, their 4th day in Haiti, Dr. Royer said he felt that their organization skills are paying off. The CHRISTUS team is working in and/or leading many departments/areas in the hospital, and they have seen great payoffs for their hard work. Yesterday was their busiest day yet. The night was very long, and didn’t end till 4 a.m.

Trauma seems to be picking up, and they saw 2 patients with major injuries from car accidents overnight. They expect this will continue, as people are staying in tents close to major roadways.

The staff is managing babies well in the pediatric area, and Dr. Royer wanted everyone to know that the CHRISTUS team is being innovative in Haiti as well—they used the heating apparatus from an MRE (pictured at left) to warm water in order to keep baby warm who was born premature.

They discovered 5 orphans living at the airport (where the hospital is located), ages 4 ½ to 10. The oldest is taking care of the rest of them. Our team asked the social worker on staff at the hospital to visit with/help them.

Our staff is also looking in to the possibility of transferring patients from the hospital in Haiti to CHRISTUS facilities in the U.S., as they feel this will provide the best continuity of care. This requires cooperation from many different areas, though, and the CHRISTUS team is committed to abiding by all rules and regulations. As we listened to a physician describe one of his patients and his efforts to secure the best care possible for her, it was clear that he didn’t see her as just another set of injuries, but a person with a future and hopes and fears.

The team is working hard and doing the best with what they have, even though the conditions are much different in Haiti than what they are used to. One of the nurses described how they clean their instruments: “First, they are soaked in a bleach and water solution for 5 minutes, then scrubbed in another pan. Then they are put to soak in basins in Vodka. The instruments remain in the Vodka basins. There are no pans or autoclaves. You take the cover towel off, get the instruments you want and recover the Vodka basin.”

The team reports that they are in high spirits, and continue to provide the best care they can.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Guest Post: Meet the CHRISTUS Team in Haiti, Pt. 2

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

Each day this week, we will post photos and biographies of members of the CHRISTUS team in Haiti, as well as a prayer to offer on their behalf.

Laura Lee, CRNA, is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at CHRISTUS St. Francis Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana. She has 22 years nursing experience - 17 of that in OR/anesthesia. Her current focus is providing hands-on anesthesia care in all specialties and acting as a clinical instructor for Resident Registered Nurse Anesthetists (RRNAs) from Texas Wesleyan University's School of Nurse Anesthesia. She is single with a 19-year-old daughter, Sara, an LSU Sophomore. She has one dog and enough cats to qualify her as "that crazy cat lady". This will be her 15th medical mission trip.

Marie-Michele Barrau, RN, is an Operating Room Nurse at CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital in Katy, Texas. She has 11 years of experience in surgical services and currently works as an OR circulator. She also has experience in preoperative care, post-anesthesia critical care, and gastrointestinal procedures. Michele was born and raised in Haiti. She lost her mother in the earthquake and vows not to allow her death to paralyze her and be in vain. Michele is fluent in French, Creole, and Spanish. This is her second mission trip. Michele is married and has two daughters who have both visited Haiti multiple times and are supportive of her missions to Haiti.

Kevin Boykin, MD, is a pediatric surgeon in Shreveport, Louisiana at CHRISTUS Schumpert Sutton Children’s Hopsital. He is 38 years old, and divorced with four incredible kids. He has been out of his fellowship for four years, and this is his first mission trip (hopefully of many).

Please join the CHRISTUS family in praying for our team in Haiti and their work there, as well as all those affected by the earthquake:

In 1866, the urgent needs of people of Texas motivated Claude Marie Dubuis, Bishop of Texas, to write a letter to Mother Angelique, of the Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament in Lyons, France which read, in part: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering in the persons of a multitude of the sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands." The three sisters who responded to that call did so in much the same way that the members of the CHRISTUS Health team in Haiti have responded: in faith.

We ask you, Lord, to bless the faith of our colleagues who have answered your call to serve and anoint the work of their hands. Allow them to see you in each person they meet and to be vessels to carry your healing love to everyone they meet. Loving God, we know that the need for healing is beyond what most of us can imagine, but we believe that you hold each person in your heart. We ask that even in the midst of the suffering you would touch the hearts of our team with a deep well of peace and trusting always in your loving compassion.

Merciful God, we ask your blessings on the people of Haiti who have lost so much. We pray that you pour out your Spirit to enfold the whole nation in your love as they journey forward from this disaster. We ask, most loving God, that you would heal their hearts and minds in addition to their broken bodies. We ask that you would raise up strong and wise local, regional, and national leaders and a worldwide community with the will to assist the Haitian people for all the years needed to build a strong nation.

The words of the prophet Isaiah speak to both the people of Haiti and our CHRISTUS Relief Team: “Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice.” ~Isaiah 41:10

Today we pray in a special way for all our caregivers, including Dr. Kevin Boykin, Laura P. Lee, and Michele Barrau all of whom left their homes and families to travel forth in faith. We ask that you would give them strength when they are weary and power when they feel weak. We ask for them that you would fill their hearts with the ability to provide hope in the midst of despair and trust in you when things seem most challenging.

We close with another verse from Isaiah, chapter 40: 28-31:

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young people stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Guest Post: Day 3 in Haiti

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

In the tremor at 4 a.m, the team’s sleeping tent shook a little, but nothing fell down. They had another tremor about 10 a.m., which some of the wound patients felt, but had no major damage. They saw 2 people In the ER about 5 a.m. as a result of the first tremor.

Someone has stolen 2 port-a-potties from the compound where the CHRISTUS team is serving.

The CHRISTUS chaplains begin each morning together in prayer, asking for God to look over all those ministering to the sick and infirm in Haiti. They began their rounds this morning with children in the pediatric area of the hospital, playing with them, talking to parents, making them smile because they took the time to meet with them.

They also worked with adults today, and have been able to see their resiliency in the midst of their pain and suffering. They are constantly praising God for life, for living, and asking God to help more people in their healing process.

Two physicians from the CHRISTUS team took a ride into town to the general hospital of Haiti. They reported that while we have all seen pictures on TV of the status of the country, it is still hard to believe the ruins when you see them in person. But people here seem to be trying to move on, trying to live a life.

The CHRISTUS physicians were sent to the Haitian general hospital to see if there are cases there that could be treated in the hospital where the CHRISTUS team is working, as our hospital has several general and other surgeons on site who could be using their skills to the fullest. Therefore, they have begun a new service: daily consultation with the general hospital to triage patients and bring them back where the CHRISTUS team is working.

There was intense heat again today, and the team reports dealing with lots of insects and flies. The outpatient wound center is outside, so staff working out there are pushed in the heat. They saw 53 people in outpatient woundcare from 7:30a.m. - 4 p.m. today, and discharged 8 people, so the wounds are healing. They expect a new series of wounds because of the traffic situation and auto accidents described yesterday.

The CHRISTUS team continues to work very hard, is highly motivated, and is working to provide as many services as possible to those who need them.

Guest Post: Meet the CHRISTUS Team in Haiti, Pt. 1

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

Each day this week, we will post photos and biographies of members of the CHRISTUS team in Haiti, as well as a prayer to offer on their behalf.

Thomas Royer, MD, is president and CEO of CHRISTUS Health. He leads day-to-day operations for CHRISTUS Health, and has over 41 years of experience in the medical field. Dr. Royer is board-certified in surgery, and has practiced, at various times, full- or part-time general surgery, emergency medicine (including serving as a Life-Flight physician), hyperbaric medicine, toxicology, and primary care. Dr. Royer founded the Geisinger Medical Center and Clinic’s Department of Emergency Medicine, and served in the Navy, spending two years as Chief of Surgery at Beaufort Naval Hospital. Dr. Royer and his wife Jane enjoy spending time with their family, including their 10 grandchildren.

Leopoldo Rivera Galvan, MD, is a General Anesthesiologist, and as served as a member of the Anesthesiology staff at CHRISTUS Muguerza Del Parque Hospital in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico since 1977. He is a member of the Heart Transplant team, and provides general surgery, gynecology and pediatrics services. He is also the Professor in Residence of Anesthesiology for the Universidad de Monterrey. Dr. Galvan is married with two children and four grandchildren, and is a cyclist and runs 50 km marathons.

Sister Rochelle Perrier, MSC, is a Marianite of Holy Cross. She currently serves as a chaplain at CHRISTUS St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has been employed there for the past 6 months. Previously, she ministered for seven years at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana. Sr. Rochelle is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and has been a Sister for 45 years. Prior to hospital ministry, she taught school for 15 years, ministered in church parishes for 10 years, and served in various positions within her religious community. Sr. Rochelle has been on a one- week mission trip to Mexico, spent 3 months in India, and 6 months in Lima, Peru, studying Spanish and ministering to the people there.

Irene S. Trzupek, RN, NP-ED, has been a Registered Nurse for 35 years and an Advanced Practice Nurse for 25 years. She has primarily worked in Emergency Departments, and spent 13 years as a Nurse Practitioner in one of Chicago's busiest trauma centers prior to moving to Beaumont, Texas. Irene moved to Beaumont about seven years ago after marrying her husband, Bart Owens, who is originally from Southeast Texas. Irene has two children, Melissa, age 30, who is finishing her graduate degree in speech pathology at Lamar University, and Jonathan, age 22, who is starting the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Purdue University. Irene currently works full-time in the CHRISTUS Hospital – St. Elizabeth Wound Care and Hyperbarics Center and part-time in the CHRISTUS Hospital – St. Elizabeth Emergency Department. She is thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this mission.

Please join the CHRISTUS family in praying for our team in Haiti and their work there, as well as all those affected by the earthquake:

Our CHRISTUS Haiti Relief Team has been in Haiti for just two days. Already what all of us have seen on television and read in news accounts has become a tangible reality for our relief team. They are now confronted with the hurting and desperate people, with all of the wounds, pain, and fears that have continued from the earthquake devastation. The CHRISTUS legacy is to respond to the call of the suffering, which is just what the relief team has done. Let us commit ourselves to fervent prayer on behalf of the people of Haiti and our CHRISTUS Relief Team.

“To this end, we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)

God of compassion we pray for the people of Haiti: for those who have died, for those struggling to survive each day, for the children left orphaned, the elderly left vulnerable, the men and women left without resources. We especially pray for our CHRISTUS relief team. Guide them in each moment as they meet the intensity of needs. Give them wisdom, courage, and strength as they spend their waking hours, providing medical care, assistance and compassionate presence.

On this day we lift up in prayer Dr. Royer and Dr. Rivera. Bless their hands and their minds as they encounter each patient. We pray for Sr. Rochelle, may her presence be living encouragement to each person she meets. We pray for Irene Trzupek and ask for your blessing on her nurse practitioner skills and her ability to respond to the emergencies she will encounter this day.

May all of the members of the team experience your strength when they are weary, your courage when they are overwhelmed, and may each of them extend Your healing ministry. For this we pray. Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Guest Post: Day 2 in Haiti

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

It is the rainy season in Haiti, and the team was slightly worried that rain would affect their work there, as the hospital is made up of 4 tents that are situated on lower ground. Luckily, though, there were a few sprinkles this morning, but they have not seen much rain otherwise. However, it is still extremely hot, so they are doing their best to keep cool and stay hydrated.

The CHRISTUS team has settled into a good routine, and has been joined by other clinicians from the U.S. Orthopedic Surgeon Jordan Post (CHRISTUS Santa Rosa - New Braunfels) has been named the chair of the hospital’s Orthopedics department for the week, and the CHRISTUS anesthesia team is heading the Anesthesia department for the week. Rae Thigpen (CHRISTUS St. Michael) is serving as Charge Nurse/Operating Room (OR) Supervisor over the 4 functioning ORs. The OR nurses from CHRISTUS are working together, and the team from the hospital report that the OR is operating better than ever. The nurses are working in two 12-12 shifts.

Dr. Royer is coordinating the wound care area, where they have seen 21 cases today. This area is operating as mini-outpatient OR, treating wounds for all surgical areas that can’t be treated because of lack of time or sterile conditions. Most people seen in wound care had crushed extremities, especially lower extremities. Most patients reported spending an average of 2 days under the rubble, although they have seen patients who spent up to 25 days trapped after the earthquake.

There are approximately 45 pediatric patients in the hospital, and our CHRISTUS pediatric surgeon will rotate call with another pediatric surgeon who arrived today.

The CHRISTUS chaplains have been working to offer prayers for patients and volunteers there, as well as visiting with patients and their families to listen to their experiences, which continue to be difficult to deal with.

The Medical Director currently at the hospital will leave tomorrow, so Dr. Royer will organize supplies and coverage to ensure everything is working well. The director has been in Haiti 5 days, and is predicting Haiti will lose another 200,000 people from malnutrition and infection. Dr. Royer says they are all deeply touched by the situation there.

The next set of injuries they’re starting to see are trauma from car accidents. People in the city are still sleeping in tents because the rubble is so intense and is therefore taking very long to clean up. People in downtown Port-au-Prince have been placing their tents on sidewalks and right up to the streets. As you can imagine, there is great danger that cars will hit people in these tents.

The team has hung the CHRISTUS flag up in one of the tents to remind them of their mission. The conditions are not sophisticated (no running water, cold showers, flooded port-a-potties), but they are doing the best with what they have, and remain firmly committed to the call of Bishop Dubuis to the founding Sisters of CHRISTUS Health, caring for the sick and suffering in a foreign land in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Guest Post: Day 1 in Haiti

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

The CHRISTUS team flew out of Dallas around 3 on Saturday morning, and arrived safely in Port-au-Prince around 7:30 a.m. The team was able to unload medical supplies as well as food and water from the plane, and hit the ground running. CHRISTUS physicians, surgeons and nurses participated in several cases today, performing wound care and many other procedures. Two CHRISTUS physicians have been placed in charge of the Operating Room (OR) beginning tomorrow, and one of our nurses has been appointed Charge Nurse of the OR. Dr. Royer will begin working in the Emergency Room tomorrow.

The team reports that it is not raining, but has been very hot. There is no running water, so they have been sterilizing their hands with antibacterial gel. The hospital is open 24 hours a day, but the ER is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Our team will be serving in 2 shifts, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. and 4 – 11 p.m.

The team says that there is still much recovery to be done in Haiti, as one would expect. As they will be staying in a staff tent, they decided to give the 5 tents they packed for their use to families in Haiti who needed them.

One of the CHRISTUS nurses, Michele, was born and raised in Haiti and lost her mother in the earthquake, but said that she vowed not to allow her death to paralyze her and therefore be in vain. Michele has been circulating throughout the hospital, using her 11 years of surgical experience to provide care, and translating, along with one of our Chaplains, who also speaks Creole. The team reports that her presence there has been galvanizing, and they are working tirelessly to honor Michele’s mother’s memory by caring for her neighbors in every way they can.

Guest Post: CHRISTUS Team Prepares for Haiti

As Dr. Royer is in Haiti with the CHRISTUS team, updates on the team’s work there will be posted by the CHRISTUS Communications team in Dallas.

On Friday, the 20-member team comprised of 18 clinicians and 2 chaplains gathered in the CHRISTUS Health headquarters in Dallas for orientation and commissioning. Members of CHRISTUS’ Task Force on Haitian Relief gave presentations to the team about the situation on the ground in Haiti; our relationship with our partner, the University of Miami; risk management; supplies and logistics and the demobilization process.

After orientation, the Associates in the Dallas office held a brief commissioning ceremony for the team headed to Haiti, raising their hands in blessing for the team’s work and their safety while they travel abroad to fulfill our mission of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ by serving our brothers and sisters affected by the earthquake there.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Helping in Haiti

As we prepare to send our 20-member team to Haiti on Saturday to provide medical and spiritual care there, Associates from across the CHRISTUS system have asked how they can help, or if we will be sending additional teams to Haiti to serve.

It is clear that many, many members of our CHRISTUS family have the skills and expertise necessary to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti. Unfortunately, we were limited to a 20-member team on this trip, and were asked to fill a specific list of providers by our partner on the ground in Haiti. At this time, we are unsure if we will plan another trip to Haiti, but CHRISTUS’ Task Force on Haitian Relief is working hard to identify additional opportunities. At the very least, we should be able to provide interested Associates with a list of other trusted nonprofits that are transporting medical professionals to Haiti to provide care. Unfortunately, it’s clear that the needs in Haiti will exist for many months and probably years to come, which means that our services will be needed far into the future.

But what if you are unable to make a trip to Haiti because of family or other obligations? What if you are looking for a group to travel with but haven’t found one yet? What if you do not possess the medical skills that allow you to perform surgeries or administer anesthesia?

You can still play a vital role in many ways, including:

Encourage. The team members traveling to Haiti on Saturday come from almost every region within CHRISTUS. If you know them or work with them, feel free to send an encouraging word or offer to lend a hand while they are away. We will try to post some biographies of our team members here so you can get to know them better as we serve in Haiti.

Pray. It is difficult for people of compassion to hear news reports detailing the death toll of over 215,000 and estimated 1.2 million people who remain without permanent shelter in Haiti following the massive earthquake in January. It can make many of us feel helpless as we search for ways to provide relief. It has been said that in dark times, we must give off light. So if you feel comfortable doing so, please take a few moments to “give off light” by offering the prayer below on behalf of the people of Haiti and our CHRISTUS team.

Prayer for the People of Haiti and our CHRISTUS Team
God of calling and compassion, we stand together at this sacred moment mindful of the deep and expansive needs of the people of Haiti. We pray for them as they respond to the effects of the earthquake in their own lives. We also remember all of those serving in the relief efforts already begun and that will continue. And we pray today for our CHRISTUS brothers and sisters who have courageously responded to the call to leave the safety and comfort of their lives and step into the uncertainty and chaotic world of those in dire need. We pray, O Lord that you will bless their willingness, creativity, and ingenuity. Protect them in their service. Give them strength each day and each night to do all they can to meet the needs that will be encountered. This is our prayer in the name on the One who call us and sustains us in our ministry. Amen.

Next Monday through Friday, the Mission and Ethics leaders in our regions may be offering prayers on behalf of our team in Haiti. Feel free to join in these prayers and offer your own.

Give. If you’re able, you can make a financial contribution to support the team’s work in Haiti by sending a check to the CHRISTUS Health Foundation, P.O. Box 840973, Dallas, Texas 75284-0973. (Mark your checks “For Haiti Relief.”) According to the Haitian Accelerated Deduction Law, taxpayers can claim qualifying contributions to charitable organizations made between Jan. 11 and March 1, 2010 on their 2009 tax returns.

But more than money can be useful, and Associates across the CHRISTUS family have been incredibly generous and found innovative ways to support relief in Haiti, including donating old cell phones through the Phones for Haiti program. Feel free to get creative!

Volunteer. While the needs in Haiti are still very real and graphically shocking, we will never have to look far to find brothers and sisters who are hurting or in need. In fact, many people in our own regions are lonely, sick, or suffering. If you can’t make the trip to Haiti, please consider extending our healing ministry outside the walls of the building you work in by volunteering your time with a reputable non-profit. We at CHRISTUS are so blessed by our own volunteers that I think it is clear to all of us how volunteers can be truly vital to an organization’s success.

I feel honored and incredibly blessed to be able to call myself the team leader of CHRISTUS. It is clear that we have so many Associates across our international ministry who embody our mission each and every day, committing themselves to our core values and fulfilling our call to extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 12, 2010

CHRISTUS Team to Serve in Haiti Feb. 20 - 27

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, I commissioned a Task Force on Haitian Relief to coordinate CHRISTUS’ response. The task force has now finalized plans to send a 20-member team and medical supplies to Port-au-Prince to provide clinical care and spiritual assistance from Feb. 20-27 in partnership with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

I will attend as part of the team, and we plan to serve at a hospital that was opened by the University of Miami in Port-au-Prince after the quake left the city without a functioning medical institution. The 240-bed hospital is a four-tent compound at the edge of the Port-au-Prince airport. With four operating rooms, dialysis and X-ray machines, telemedicine capabilities and sleeping accommodations, it has become a beacon of life for the country's critically injured residents.

We expect to care for approximately 150 – 200 patients per day and provide anesthesia, orthopedic and general surgery services for both adults and children as well as spiritual care. We will perform many procedures currently needed in Haiti, including re-operating, wound debridement (cleaning/removing foreign objects form a wound), care of burns and infections, and many others. We will bring supplies for these procedures and medication for our patients as well as Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and water for our team.

Our team and supplies will be transported in a plane secured by Congressman Rodney Alexander and Meyer Seligmann, a member of the congressman’s staff in Washington, D.C. They worked with former Ambassador at large Henry Crumpton, who made arrangements for a charter Boeing 737 aircraft to remain available for the trip to Haiti. Congressman Alexander represents the 5th Congressional District of Louisiana, which includes CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital and CHRISTUS St. Joseph’s Home.

We expect to have internet access while in Haiti, and plan to provide reports as regularly as possible on my blog here, so please check back for regular updates.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Preparing for a Changing Workforce, Part I

I recently participated in an interview with Modern Healthcare about a report released by the American Hospital Association on how hospitals ought to prepare for future workforce shortage challenges. As we have always believed that our most important asset isn’t on our balance sheet, but is our Associates, it’s incredibly important to have the right people and the right number of people doing the right kinds of work. I thought it would be helpful to post here about how CHRISTUS approaches our workforce.

We work very hard to take three general approaches to personnel:

1) Hiring right. We have a process in place to describe who we are, and we communicate that if this is the kind of company you wish to join, then apply to work with us. As we go through interviewing process for key positions in our organization, we incorporate some psychological interviews to make sure that applicants are compatible with who we are.

2) Retention. We ensure that we orient new Associates thoroughly and correctly, so we know who they are and vice versa. It’s also important that they are familiar with our Associate Covenant, which explains what is expected of both CHRISTUS and our Associates. They also need to know how we ensure that we are delivering high quality, compassionate care in our health care ministries. This is one reason that new Associate orientation has been systemized, and is the same across our U.S. and Mexico facilities.

It is clear that most people leave their current positions because they don’t like their supervisors. Therefore, CHRISTUS prepares our leaders through a variety of programs such as the CHRISTUS Center for Management Excellence, which supervisors/managers complete in their first 3 months with CHRISTUS. In addition, because nursing is so critical, we have developed an additional course specifically for Nursing leaders called the CHRISTUS Center for management Excellence II for Nurse Leaders that aims to meet the development needs of our nurse leaders.

3) Engagement. While we have long monitored our retention and turnover rate, we recently added engagement, which is a measurement of “do people really like working there?” If CHRISTUS as an organization is doing what we should, then all our Associates should feel like part of the CHRISTUS family, and our facilities should be receiving awards that name them best places to work. CHRISTUS Muguerza Alta Especialidad Hospital in Monterrey Mexico has been named one of the Best Places to Work in Latin America, and CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System in Texarkana, Texas has been named repeatedly as a Best Place to Work by both Modern Healthcare and Texas Monthly.

These three approaches affect not only what we do today, but how we will continue to provide high quality care in the face of predicted workforce shortages. Next week, let’s continue this discussion by focusing on the changing workforce and how we deliver care.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

CHRISTUS’ 11th birthday

As an organization, our tradition is to celebrate Feb. 1 as CHRISTUS Day (the anniversary of the founding of CHRISTUS Health), honoring the formation of this organization built upon the strong, enduring legacy of our founding Sisters. Across CHRISTUS, our Associates, physicians and volunteers will gather this week to recognize the journey we have taken and the incredible commitment of everyone involved. CHRISTUS facilities, services and programs each have their own unique characteristics, but wherever we serve, we do so with the same commitment to service excellence and quality care. We celebrate the successes we have had this past year and our future direction, which will guide us through this second decade of our sacred work to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

In many ways, the “infancy” of our organization is over. We are now well-formed and clear about our direction. We are cognizant of our myriad of strengths and numerous challenges. Our identity is intact, our structure strong, our commitment clear and resounding. Our “brand” and our commitment to excellence are achieving measurable results.

During this next chapter of our history, we will be intentional in strengthening our ministry in areas of excellence and achievement we have experienced, while we also expanding our ministry according to our strategic plans. That's why the theme for this year’s CHRISTUS Day celebration was “Strengthening and Expanding our Ministry.”