The Hôpital Sacré Coeur Way: Going the Extra (Flight) Mile Trying to Save a Child’s Life

Dr. Lisa Ross airborne.

Dr. Lisa Ross airborne.

By Lisa A. Ross, M.D.

We heard about the little boy who had been burned shortly after we arrived to CRUDEM on a Sunday afternoon in March. All we knew was that this three-year-old had been carrying a container of gasoline and had tripped over some exposed wiring leading to a spark and explosion. He had third degree burns over more than 75% of his body.

But he wasn’t the only victim; a woman walking behind him had also been injured. They were both brought to Hôpital Sacré Coeur and were being cared for in the intensive care unit.

Dr. David Butler helping secure Fenulus on the stretcher.

Dr. David Butler helping secure Fenulus on the stretcher.

When we went to work on Monday morning we checked in on the little boy, Fenulus was his name as we later discovered. Fenulus was in the far bed on the right, with a mosquito tent protecting him. His torso, extremities and part of his head were wrapped in gauze and he had one i.v. in his right foot. But he was also agitated and in a fair amount of pain. I decided to review his pain management and came up with a regimen that included i.v. morphine for pain and some degree of sedation.

At the same time behind the scenes Dr. Harold Prévil, CEO of Hôpital Sacré Coeur and CRUDEM adviser Stewart Simonson were making arrangements to transport the child by helicopter to the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Port-Au-Prince where they had a burn center.

Just after noon the helicopter from the not-for-profit organization Ayiti Air Anbilans landed in the very popular soccer field. The pilot Ana and the three paramedics gingerly placed Fenulus on the levered transport arm, attached the monitors, and checked his i.v. His grandmother was present, as his mother was at home breastfeeding a younger sibling. There was only one additional seat in the helicopter which she graciously gave to me once she realized I had been involved in his pain management that morning.

Cramped quarters in the helicopter.  (Knee-to-knee)

Cramped quarters in the helicopter. (Knee-to-knee)

Prior to departure the bilingual male paramedic spoke very sweetly to Fenulus who could see nothing as his eyes were patched and explained to him that he was going to get to fly in a helicopter and that he was a very, very brave little man.

The trip was uneventful and the ambulance to the hospital was waiting to whisk the child to the burn facility. Again, all three paramedics accompanied him. It was truly a door-to-door service.

I then had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ralph McCaskill who is the Executive Director of Ayiti Air Anbilans the not-for-profit company that provides emergency aeromedical services to the people of Haiti.

Attaching monitors.

Attaching monitors.

We later heard that arrangements were being made for Fenulus to be flown to the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia, PA for better management of his burn injuries. He unfortunately became unstable, could not be transferred and expired within a week.

There was a great deal of pride amongst those who were involved in his care as we all know we did the best we could to help save the life of Little Fenulus. We look forward to working with Ayiti Air Anbilans in the future.

Pilot Ana and Dr. Lisa Ross.

Pilot Ana and Dr. Lisa Ross.

Lisa A. Ross, MD, MBA earned her A.B. from Harvard University, a M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a M.B.A. from Fordham University. Dr. Ross has practiced anesthesia for over twenty-five years. She has gone to Milot each March for thirteen out of the last sixteen years. Dr. Ross is currently the Director of the Department of Anesthesiology at Harlem Hospital Center in New York City and an Associate Clinical Professor of Anesthesia at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. She lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

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