Not Just an X-ray Machine

It’s not just an X-ray machine…

I think about my hometown of Zanesville, Ohio. I can drive down the main strip, Maple Ave., and drive past no less than six facilities in 2 miles that have X-ray or some sort of diagnostic imaging capabilities. In a town with a population of roughly 30,000 people, if one of my children suffers a broken bone and the surgeon needs to see the break for recommended treatment, or my grandmother needs a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, or the doctors simply need to rule out an illness, this can be performed within the same day of an office visit or hospital admission. Southeast Haiti, the area served by Peredo Community Hospital, is not so lucky. Southeast Haiti is home to an estimated population of over 500,000 people with a lacking healthcare infrastructure and few resources.

Prior to March 2019, patients visiting the Peredo Community Hospital who were in need of diagnostic X-ray imaging would be required to travel 45 minutes to the closest X-ray in Jacmel. Eighty percent of the time, these patients were only left disappointed as the equipment, as in many clinics in Haiti, was not operable. This left patients with one of two choices: travel four hours to Port-au-Prince or do nothing.

For the physicians in Peredo and the surrounding areas, they were attempting to provide care, for lack of a better work, blind. Without the ability to see what was happening inside the body, these providers could only do the best they could by feel and trial and error. For any healthcare provider, this is frustrating. For any patient needing specific care, this is devastating.

The April 2019 Surgical team witnessed first-hand the consequences of treatment provided without being able to view inside the body. One 61-year-old gentleman was brought to the clinic by his daughter to see the orthopedic surgeons. He sat in the wheelchair with his left leg extended before him. At the top of the thigh was an external fixation apparatus or an ex-fix that was as long as his thigh and weighed an estimated six to eight pounds, including the frame, bolts and screws. The gentleman sat with leg extended because if he bent at the knee, the ex-fix would dig into his stomach. This gentleman had this placed 8 months prior after an accident while working with his cattle. This accident resulted in a broken femur and broken wrist. The wrist was left to heal on its own while the femur was repaired as best as it possibly could be by his former surgeons who did not have necessary resources, but knew they had to help this man. During the visit at PCH, it was evident the ex-fix needed to be removed.

The surgeons ordered an X-ray of the leg in order to get a clear picture of where the pins and screws were located inside the bone. Instead of driving to another facility or traveling and waiting several days, the gentleman was wheeled across the waiting room and within 15 minutes, we had films! The images were shocking. Despite the best possible care his former surgeons could provide without the necessary resources, the broken femur healed in such a way that it left his left leg five inches shorter than the right leg. He was prepped for surgery, the ex-fix was removed, a lift shoe was fabricated to offset the difference in length of his legs, and he and his daughter left with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes!

2 Corinthians 9:11 states, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” The equipment donated by the Zanesville, Ohio Rotary Clubs isn’t just a piece of equipment, it is a means to adequate care, life-saving diagnostic imaging, proper treatment, physician satisfaction, and job opportunity.

Theodore Jean Mari is the trained Radiology Technician who proudly cares for and carefully operates the digital X-ray at Peredo Community Hospital! He is a busy man! This man, the patients, the doctors, the community, and the team at Haitian Christian Outreach are rejoicing in thanksgiving to God for generous and obedient hearts! It is through your generosity and God’s power to do immeasurably more than we can think or imagine that we are thankful! It is more than a piece of equipment, it is a reason to give thanks!

by Megan Schreiber
HCO Director of Health Care Partnerships