Wilner came to St. Luke Family Hospital on August 29, 2018, after having been burned very badly in an accident. In Haiti, extreme burns, are often caused by candles or kerosene lamps accidentally setting houses on fire, cooking accidents, electrical accidents, and the use of fire to burn trash. In many cases, burn injuries in Haiti are very heavily influenced by poverty and lack of infrastructure.
Until this past year, St. Luke Hospital had not accepted trauma patients or burn victims as they had been treated at other local hospitals. When one of these hospitals providing burn care announced that it would be decreasing its capacity and narrowing its admission criteria, St. Luke Hospital was obliged to start offering care to patients like Wilner.
Wilner was St. Luke Hospital’s first severe burn victim. Before being admitted to St. Luke Hospital, he was refused care at a different hospital, which claimed he only had about a 30% chance of survival. When this happened, Wilner says he had no hope that his body would ever function again due to the extent of his burns. And when he found out that he was to be taken to St. Luke Hospital for treatment, he was scared because he knew of someone who had been treated at the hospital, but sadly had not survived. He thought he would die too.
The healing process for burn victims is long and painful, especially when the burn is large and severe. Third-degree burns—one of the most severe kinds of burns, are not too painful in the beginning if all the nerves in the skin have been burned away, but as they begin to heal and grow back, the healing process becomes very painful and itchy, which can further complicate the recovery. To protect against infection, burns must constantly be covered with bandages that must be changed regularly. This itself can cause considerable pain.
Wilner received care at St. Luke hospital for over six months. Although much of his skin has healed, there are still areas that have not yet completely finished healing and must continue to be bandaged. This goes to show the long process burn victims face toward full recovery.
Of all the staff who have taken care of Wilner, his special thanks goes to Fr. Rick Frechette, who was one of the first people to visit him in the hospital. Fr. Rick promised to make sure Wilner received the care he needed.
Now that Wilner is finally able to leave the hospital, he hopes to return to writing and performing music. He even hopes to write a song in honor of St. Luke Hospital as a way to say thank you. When asked about what would have happened without St. Luke’s help, Wilner simply said, “I wouldn’t be here.”