take the red pill – 13 of 365

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overcast. grey all day. temperature at 9:54  pm,  28°

At 23 I moved to Boston, for no other reason but to move to Boston.  After a bit of temping I found a gig at Harvard Medical School  in the Department of Social Medicine.  It was a good gig for a lot of reasons – but one of the best reasons,  I got a crash course in global health and infectious disease.  At the time, our department housed the organization Partners in Health (PIH), as their founder, Paul Farmer,  was a faculty member of the department.   Paul Farmer is pretty amazing, and his work gives him a little bit of rock star status in the field of infectious diseases.   One day, as receptionist, I was being my normal nonplussed self, while taking a call for someone needing to talk to Paul Farmer.  Everyone needed to talk to Paul, especially the press, and a quick internet search would give you his faculty status in our department, and of course, my number at the front desk.  The reality though, at least in my perception, was that Paul far more preferred  taking care of the sick, than taking care of the press.

– Can I speak to Paul Farmer?

– I’m sorry, he’s not available right now,  he’s out of the country, I can give you his assistant.

-Well, when will he be back, I’d like to speak to him.

-(in which I would channel David Spade), And you are,

-I’m Joel Silver’s assistant, you know, producer of the Matrix.

-oh, um, Hi, what can I do for you? (I’m sorry, I’m a nerd, she broke me).

Paul gave the class day speech for Harvard Med, and Joel Silver’s accountant’s (agent’s) daughter (son?) had graduated that day.  Paul had spoken about a doctor’s obligation to heal the sick, and had made a reference to taking the blue pill or the red pill  and really seeing the sick and impoverished of the world.  Apparently, Joel Silver enjoyed collecting Matrix references, and wanted a copy of Paul’s speech.  Matrix references aside, partners in Health is one hell of an organization, and with people already on the ground, and health centers already established, they will be well suited to continue to support the people of Haiti.  Below is a letter I received tonight.  If you are planning on donating money to this relief effort, I ask that you please consider giving through Partners in Health.

Dear Tara,

Over the past 18 hours, Partners In Health staff in Boston and Haiti have been working to collect as much information as possible about the conditions on the ground, the relief efforts taking shape, and all relevant logistics issues in order to respond efficiently and effectively to the most urgent needs in the field. At the moment, PIH’s Chief Medical Officer is on her way to Haiti, where she will meet with Zanmi Lasante leadership and head physicians, who are already working to ensure PIH’s coordinated relief efforts leveraging the skills of more than 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants who work at Zanmi Lasante’s sites.

We have already begun to implement a two-part strategy to address the immediate need for emergency medical care in Port-au-Prince. First, we are organizing the logistics to get the medical staff and supplies needed for setting up field hospital sites in Port-au-Prince where we can triage patients, provide emergency care, and send those who need surgery or more complex treatment to our functioning hospitals and surgical facilities. To do this, we are creating a supply chain through the Dominican Republic. Second, we are ensuring that our facilities in the Central Plateau are ready to serve the flow of patients from Port-au-Prince. Operating and procedure rooms are staffed, supplied, and equipped for surgeries and we have converted a church in Cange into a large triage area. Already our sites in Cange and Hinche are reporting a steady flow of people coming with medical needs from the capital city. In the days that come we will need to make sure our pharmacies and supplies stay stocked and our staff continue to be able to respond.

Currently, our greatest need is financial support. Haiti is facing a crisis worse than it has seen in years, and it is a country that has faced years of crisis, both natural disaster and otherwise. The country is in need of millions of dollars right now to meet the needs of the communities hardest hit by the earthquake. Our facilities are strategically placed just two hours outside of Port-au-Prince and will inevitably absorb the flow of patients out of the city. In addition, we need cash on-hand to quickly procure emergency medical supplies, basic living necessities, as well as transportation and logistics support for the tens of thousands of people that will be seeking care at mobile field hospitals in the capital city. Any and all support that will help us respond to the immediate needs and continue our mission of strengthening the public health system in Haiti is greatly appreciated. Help us stand up for Haiti now.

If you are not in a position to make a financial contribution, you can help us raise awareness of the earthquake tragedy. Please alert your friends to the situation and direct them to www.pih.org for updates and ways to help.

Donate now to support our earthquake relief efforts
Share this important update with a friend

Thank you for your solidarity during this crisis,


Ophelia Dahl
Executive Director

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