By Jennifer Broome, WOAI – San Antonio
BCFS respond anytime there’s a disaster here in Texas or anywhere around the world. After the Haiti earthquake, BCFS sent their medical strike team along with Dr. David Marks, who is their Medical Director, to Haiti.
I sat down with Dr. Marks and here is his story.
It was chaos from the moment Dr. Marks and his team touched down in Port-Au-Prince. They are used to responding in disasters…but nothing like this. Dr. David Marks is the Medical Director of BCFS.
“We were scared. We got there at nighttime. It was hot. We knew the environment was going to be somewhat hostile.”
This team from BCFS entered into a warzone.
“People were walking around with their machine guns and the perimeter security so it did feel very much like a warzone.”
On an hour’s drive from the airport, they were overwhelmed by the destruction and stench.
“It smelled like rot. It smelled like trash.”
Their mission was to assess the needs of an orphanage with a capacity for 60….
“But due to the demands of the earthquake the capacity or the surge of orphans rose to about 120.”
“They were in dire need of just a true medical team just to do initial evaluation of what future teams need to bring to that orphanage.”
What they found was severe malnutrition, dehydration, outbreaks of diarrhea and upper respiratory infections, depression, post traumatic stress syndrome, and terrified kids.
“They do not want to sleep inside a building…because they’re so fearful that it’s going to collapse on them and rightfully so. When we were there we experienced several earthquakes and it made me nervous and anxious being inside of a building.”
The worse aftershock Dr. Marks went through was actually the night before returning to the U.S. He was pulling the nightshift in a hospital…and the aftershock was a 4.7.
“I actually felt the floor moving and saw the walls shaking and I saw the ceiling coming down and my heart started skipping beats because I have a dilemma that I’m a doctor. I didn’t want to abandon my patients that were sick and couldn’t move but I also wanted not to die in a building either.”
Two patients really affected Dr. Marks. One…a child. The other an American missionary in his 70s who became very sick. Instead of being just a critical care doctor…Dr. Marks became a jack of all trades.
“There I had to play the doctor, the pharmacist, everything…but he was rapidly deteoriating.”
Dr. Marks says there must of been some divine intervention that helped him keep his patient alive and that help him and the patient’s daughter pull out all the stops to get the missionary transferred to the u-s-s comfort.
“I said if you do okay. I want a shirt like that. Just joking with him. And she came back with a brand new t-shirt that says ‘Defend The Cause’.”
The other patient was a boy named Obed in severe respiratory distress. Dr. Marks had to use MacGyver medicine piecing together equipment with tape and even chewing gum.
“Searching through the hospital and working through different boxes we were able to find all the parts I needed for a portable ventilator.”
Dr. Marks then taught Obed’s family how to use it.
“In the Haitian culture that’s okay. The families are very much engaged in the care of their loved ones. They’re very excited to learn how to push the breathing bag in order to push air into their kid’s lungs.”
For Dr. Marks the single hardest part of his mission was….”Coming home.”
Dr. Marks was desperately trying to get a medical visa to transported Obed to San Antonio. Sadly Obed passed away.
Teams from the BCFS are still in Haiti and Dr. Marks hopes to return later this month.