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After the hospital release, there is no place to go for Haiti earthquake victims

Jertha's bed was moved by orderlies to the side of Dr. Michelet Paurus' hospital ward so that he could use his electric saw. As the doctor removed her plaster cast, she was quiet.

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After the hospital release, there is no place to go for Haiti earthquake victims

The doctor advised her that she should leave the hospital today.

Ylet had resisted the casting until it was removed. After being taken to Les Cayes General Hospital Aug. 14, she was unconscious and her leg had been crushed. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake had destroyed her home, killing her father, two of her siblings, and severely injuring her brother. There's no place to go.

On Thursday, a surgeon placed a metal rod into her lower left leg. Ylet, 25, hadn't been out of bed since arriving. The 5-year-old daughter of Ylet, who was not hurt, shared her bed with her and spent her days playing with other children on the ward.

More than a week following the Haiti earthquake that left at least 2,207 dead, 12,268 injured, and nearly 53,000 homes destroyed, Ylet is a problem for the limited regional health care system. How do you turn over hospital beds to patients who have nowhere else to go?

"I told the doctor that I didn't have anywhere to go," Ylet stated. "I told them all. "The doctor doesn't get it."

The hospital was overflowing with patients in the first few days following the earthquake. In the waiting area of their care, many injured people sat on patios or in breezeways. There are still people there, but these are either discharged patients, or people who are not admitted to the hospital, and are drawn by the daily donations of food, water, and clothing.

Peterson Gede, hospital director, said that there are many patients who have been discharged but still hang out in the yard. "The fact that they know they will get food and water...they don't intend to leave."

Gede gave instructions to hospital staff Monday to start "motivating" patients to leave the hospital, "to make sure they understand that we need beds to admit new patients."

It was not an easy task. Ylet, along with many others, was faced with a major obstacle: not having a place to call home.

Ylet was unconscious when a wall in her Camp-Perrin cinderblock home fell on her during the earthquake.

Junior Milord, her boyfriend, had already left for work 20 minutes before she arrived. He froze on the street until the shaking stopped and then ran back to Ylet. He found her in the vicinity of the front of the building. It had not collapsed completely, unlike the back.

Milord stated, "I thought she had died when I started removing the blocks."

He pulled her out of her car and flagged down another vehicle, which took her to Les Cayes hospital. She said, "When I woke up, I was in hospital."

Milord returned to dig out the remains of Ylet’s father, brother-in-law and cousin. Because the family lacks the funds to bury them, their bodies are still at a funeral house. Milord, his home, two uncles, a aunt, and a brother were all destroyed by the earthquake.

Milord claimed that some of Ylet’s surviving relatives have set up camp in her yard. He said that Ylet and her child will have to go if they don't want to.

Gabrielle Lagrenade, a nurse on the ward understands this reality better than anyone.

Lagrenade, her 21-year old daughter Bethsabelle, and their son, Matthew, have been sleeping outside ever since the earthquake. Their heads are less than six feet away from the highway, and they struggle to sleep on gravel roads. They are constantly being pounded by SUVs, mopeds, and tractor trailers all night.

This is the only area of ground that's level around the two-story building, where they rented an apartment above their small clothing shop. The land slopes abruptly from the road to the stream that runs behind the building. It was built on reinforced concrete columns and a drainage gully which feeds into the stream. The columns are now separated by two gaps between the support tops and the bottom of their supports. It was wisely taken down by the landlord.

Despite her precarious financial situation, Lagrenade (52) still arrives at the hospital every day. She carefully folds and stores her bedding and then discreetly slips behind the rows of roadside buildings to wash.

Ylet is in her ward. There are 22 beds in the room. Although doctors and nurses wear masks, patients don't. This is despite the fact that almost no Haitian has been vaccinated against COVID-19. The nurses huddle together around a wooden table at the one end. A corner is used to store medical waste.

Lagrenade sympathizes with Ylet and other newly homeless patients but is also pragmatic.

She said that the beds were needed.

Lagrenade stated, "After someone is well they must go."

This is what Paurus tried to explain to Ylet.

The doctor stated that an orthopedist from Port-au-Prince had performed on her leg and cleared her for her to go.

He said, "If we decide not to keep patients whose houses were destroyed there won’t be room (new) patients." "We have many patients and emergency who require a bed."

Paurus then got his saw.

Ylet, after her cast was removed, said that she would leave her bed and camp out on the hospital grounds. They told her to return Thursday for a follow up appointment.

The volunteers then brought hot lunches. Ylet remained in her bed at the end of the day. Milord stated that no one had told her to go, so she was still there.

Ylet stated, "The doctor must understand that I don’t have a place and I will not leave." "I will remain in the hospital's backyard and sleep there until it is clear to me."

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