The Haiti earthquake may have happened more than two months ago -- but the devastation from that disaster is still overwhelming and heart wrenching --- that's the word from a team of Connecticut doctors and nurses who just returned from a medical missionary trip.
"Most of us have the sense that we shouldn't have left," said Dr. Anthony Ciardella, a primary care physician who practices in Southington. "There was so much to do there, Realistically we know we did what we could."
The team spent 11 days in Haiti -- most of the time at a hospital in Port-Au-Prince ---seeing up to 70 patients a day.
"Most patients would already be sitting and waiting for us to arrive," said Deborah Ferretti, A.P.R.N, a nurse at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. She was part of a 10-member team working with Hearts for Haiti, a relief organization.
The doctors and nurses cared for Haitians suffering from breathing problems, hypertension, gastrointestinal ailments, typhoid fever, skin conditions and stress-related conditions like headaches and stomachaches.
The massive 7.0 earthquake rattled Haiti on January 12 -- killing 220,000 people, injuring 300,000 and leaving 1 million homeless.
The team attended to patients in Port-au-Prince, the area hardest hit in the quake and Saint-Marc. A few team members also traveled to an orphanage -- providing care to 22 children.
The doctors and nurses all tell stories of devastation, despair and primitive conditions.
"We were seeing 75 patients a day, " said Dr. Ciardella, who worked in the clinic in Saint-Marc. "It was so hot and there was no power the whole time we were there. The only power we had was a generator that worked intermittently."
Another registered nurse, Patricia Alfieri, said she met a woman who was homeless and sleeping on the street with her baby. "The best thing she could do was to keep her eyes and ears open to find shelter," Alfieri said.
The medical team was shocked at just how broken Haiti's healthcare system is.
Ferretti recalled seeing twin boys, only 18 months old, who had trouble breathing. One of the boys also had a broken leg. When the doctors and nurses helped bring the boys to the hospital in Port-au-Prince, the family was denied admission because they weren't sick enough, Ferretti said.
Without formalized healthcare, Ferretti said Haitians used antibiotics like we used Motrin.
Despite all the destruction, the team said they were inspired by Haitians' pride and strength -- often arriving at clinics in their best clothing.
"Just to see how they were trying to hold on to normal life was really admirable," said Ferretti.
"They were so grateful for everything you did for them, " said Alfieri.
For more information on Hearts for Haiti, click here.