“No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!”
The March 2015 issue of The Meeting House Times is dedicated to the work of the church’s Board of Christian Action. You can learn about all their projects HERE. One of them is described below in greater detail than the constraints of the MHT allowed.
Hispañola Health Partners is a non-profit organization dedicated to help strengthen health care networks in communities along the Haitian/Dominican border of the island of Hispañola. Hispañola Health Partners is presently involved in 4 areas of health care delivery in Southeastern Haiti.Marjofre Health Center – a clinic is under construction in a mountain community a few hours away from any healthcare center, funded initially by Haitians born and raised there who now live in the USA. Concerned about the dire lack of services in the region, these people and a committee of concerned locals (AMBUF) have been working for years to raise the money to make regular healthcare available for the 25,000 who live nearby. We are working to strengthen and expand their efforts to get the clinic fully functioning within the next 2 years. Meanwhile Hispañola Health Partners has been bringing Haitian doctors and nurses to the rudimentary site to provide primary care services for a few days every 3-6 months. With periodic clinics in dentistry, general medicine, opthalmology, gynecology and general medicine, we have attended to more than 1000 patients over the last 18 months. As of the summer of 2014, HHP started a campaign on hypertension – a great problem in the community with potentially disastrous repercussions if left untreated - educating the population with monthly visits by doctors, nurses and community health promoters who check blood pressures and educate their neighbors about treatment and prevention, as well as providing medication at low cost to those who need it. We continue to work with the Haitian Ministry of Health in the lengthy process of becoming a Ministry (MSPP) clinic, so that the clinic will eventually be self-sustaining. The Haitian bureaucracy is very intense, complicated and time consuming. Dr. Roberto Peigne is our in-country Medical Director, helping us navigate the system, as well as directing health care operatives in Marjofre. We and Dr Peigne work with the local committee AMBUF, helping them sharpen their administrative and organizational skills, as they will eventually take over clinic operations.Patients awaiting care at Marjofre ClinicHelping Babies BreatheSouvenir is a matron, or a home birth attendant who has been delivering babies in rural homes in Haiti for the past 40 years. Hundreds and hundreds of births later he has never received any formal training; he was inspired to become a matron because of a vision he had in a dream when he was a young man. He is also a doktè fèy, or folk healer, using lots of plants from the countryside plus the spirits of vodou to help heal the sick and wounded. The WHO estimates that a million babies die around the world each year from birth asphyxia. Hispañola Health Partners’ workshop in “Helping Babies Breathe” was the first time Souvenir had been recognized for his years of service, and the first outside training he’d had in his career. “Helping Babies Breathe” is a simple course in neonatal resuscitation for home birth attendants, implemented around the developing world to maximize the “golden minute,” the first minute of a child’s life. The goal is to make sure that respirations are adequate to nourish the brain and other organs, giving the baby the best send-off possible. In November, 2014, HHP taught 10 local matrons this technique and gave them bulb syringes and ambu bags to use at home births. Members of the local health committee made 200 clean birth kits for the matrons. These kits provided simple supplies to reduce maternal-child infections during home births. Per Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d’Informatique, only about 15% of rural women in Haiti give birth with a skilled birth attendant (Souvenir would not qualify) and neonatal mortality rate is about one in 10 births.HHP taught “Helping Babies Breathe” to nurses at the Anse-a-Pitres health center this past fall and plans to reach out to as many matrons, nurses and community health workers in the region as possible over the next few years.Women’s Health and Cancer Prevention – Back in the 90s, groups of international health workers began to develop a way to screen women for cervical cancer that was practical and efficient, an alternative to the Pap smear that is logistically difficult in low resource areas. It is called “VIA/cryo,” or “see and treat,” whereby using white vinegar and a good light, a trained eye is able to detect suspicious looking cervical tissue and treat on the spot with cryotherapy. It has saved millions of lives of women in the prime of their lives around the world.HHP started doing “see and treat” in April of 2013 and has screened 750+ women in rural SE Haiti, 90% of these women have never had screening; about 5% have been treated for positive results. We have begun a training program to pass along this skill to Haitian nurses and doctors in the 3 municipalities of the region. A registered nurse, Sainte Jeanne Jean Noel, is the in-country director of the program, providing cervical screenings at the sites around the region as she trains personnel and develops a promotional campaign. Hispañola Health Partners has donated the C02 tank and cryo unit to the health center in Anse-a-Pitres. Ministry of Health Clinic in the town of Anse-a-Pitres – This is the main center for primary care in the area, serving the border town of 12,000 inhabitants plus providing care for the 25,000 people in remote regions via a network of health care promoters. This branch of the project helps provide volunteer clinician services to patients, helps with the purchase of medications and equipment that the Ministry does not supply, and brings professionals from the US to provide continuing education on topics that the clinical staff requests.In May of 2014, at the behest of the medical director of the clinic, OB/GYN Dr. Mary Gratch from St Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, volunteered her time to teach ultrasound technique to the staff. Using a donated ultrasound machine that had gathered dust over the past 3 years at the clinic because no one knew how to use it, she taught for 4 days, holding her own despite the heat, lack of reliable electricity and 3 languages ricocheting across the room! A journal full of photos and adventures from the nitty gritty of my last 3 years in Haiti is available at llindenmeyr.blogspot.com/. Please visit!! You may also want to check out http://www.hispanolahealthpartners.org for more information about our programs. Please know that all donations go directly to work being done by Haitians in Haiti – all US volunteers cover their own expenses.
Louise Lindenmeyr’s Work with Hispañola Health Partners