Supplies Arrive, HHI Warmly Greeted in Cuba

A shipment of medicine and supplies are in Cuba, ready to be used by medical staff at a children’s hospital in Havana.  An HHI team just returned from there, seeing the supplies in-country and visiting the hospital where the items will be used to help treat sick children.

Havana Vieja 1

A street in Old Havana.

 

After months of coordination with government agencies in Cuba and the U.S. and some very exhaustive and meticulous work, a 40-foot container loaded with six tons of medical supplies and children’s items departed from HHI’s Operations Hub in October 2015 bound for a children’s hospital in Havana, Cuba.

After a couple of weeks in transit and a few more weeks working through the customs process, the supplies were brought to a warehouse in Havana, to await delivery to the William Soler Pediatric Hospital.

Supplies in Warehouse1

During the first week of December 2015, a team from HHI traveled to Havana, Cuba to ensure the product had arrived in good condition and to learn more about the on-the-ground logistics needed to handle this and future shipments.

The medicine and the supplies in this shipment were valued at nearly $350,000.  All of it provided by some of  HHI’s corporate sponsors BD, Midmark, AbbVie, Medtronic, Welch Allyn, Henry Schein and Johnson & Johnson.  Beyond medicine and medical equipment, this first container-load delivered diapers, coloring books and crayons, and child-sized blankets.  Everything in this first delivery were items requested and needed by medical staff at the pediatric hospital.

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Aldo screenshotDr. Aldo Grandal Sosa oversees medical donations for the Department of International Relations in Cuba’s public health system.  He’s worked closely with HHI staff to ensure this first shipment went off without a hitch and contained the items desired by medical personnel to treat children.

Dr. Grandal Sosa says this new relationship with HHI “creates a great interchange between partners and creates opportunities for future donations, which is very important for our public health system.”

 

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Soler Exterior1

William Soler Pediatric Hospital in Havana, Cuba.

 

In Cuba, the William Soler Pediatric Hospital is the top medical facility for ill children not just in Havana but across the island.  It’s also a teaching hospital, providing education and training for medical personnel. And according to the hospital’s chief of operations Dr. Mercedes Milan Jo, it’s a very busy place.

During the trip, the HHI team visited the hospital to meet with staff to discuss the shipment, further needs and to see where the medicine and supplies would be put to use.  Dr. Milan Jo reported the hospital is on pace this year to perform a record number of surgeries since the founding of the hospital 55 years ago.  The donation of supplies by HHI, especially items like surgical gloves, she said, will help reduce a long waiting list for surgeries.

 

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This HHI shipment is not a one and done, rather it’s just the first under a two-year long arrangement.  A second and third shipment are already in the works, which is welcome news for parents whose children need regular medical care at Soler.

Otoniel ScreenshotTwo or three times a month, Otoniel Fernandez’ son receives treatment at William Soler because he has sickle cell anemia.  “We know we have very good doctors and nurses, but we need supplies,” Fernandez said. “It is very important that Heart to Heart come to Cuba and bring supplies for the hospital.”

These first supplies and those that follow will help to expand access to healthcare in Cuba and help children receive even better care.

 

 

 

Medical Supplies Depart for Cuba

Six tons of medicine, medical supplies, diapers, blankets, even coloring books and crayons have begun the journey from Kansas City to Havana, Cuba.

These supplies are going to the William Soler Pediatric Hospital – a children’s hospital in Havana.

Watch as the supplies are loaded at HHI’s Operations Hub.

From HHI’s Hub, this first container will go to a port in Florida for transport to Cuba. Then, once all the supplies have cleared customs, all of the humanitarian cargo will be delivered to the hospital to help medical staff treat sick children.

Read more about HHI’s project in Cuba 

 

This first shipment is valued at nearly $350,000.  And it’s thanks to several of our corporate sponsors and partners that helped make this happen.  Medical supplies and medicine from BD, Midmark, AbbVie, Medtronic, Welch Allyn, Henry Schein and Johnson & Johnson make up the bulk of this shipment.

Also, the blankets, coloring books and crayons are part of the J&J One Child, One Blanket project.  Under a partnership with J&J, these kits are assembled by HHI volunteers at the Hub and are shipped around the world and the US to children in shelters and in hospitals.

 

 

 

Surveying Erika Damage in Dominica

Our team on the island of Dominica has gotten an up-close look at the damage caused by Tropical Storm Erika.  The island nation’s government called for help. Heart to Heart International was the only international NGO to respond.

Dominca Bridge pano

Residents view what remains of a bridge washed away by flash floods caused by Tropical Storm Erika.

 

When Erika struck Dominica, she dropped 15 inches of rain, causing flash flooding and mudslides on the tiny, mountainous Caribbean island. More than 30 people were killed and 35 people remain missing.   While Erika was only a tropical storm, it caused major issues for this small island with a population just more than 70,000.

The governments of Venezuela, Martinique and Guadeloupe responded with heavy equipment and personnel to help clear roads and the island’s main airport.  Cuba responded with a large team of medical responders.  The British Royal Air Force is also assisting, as is the US Coast Guard.

And as our team learned, so far, HHI is the only international non-governmental organization (NGO) to respond to the disaster. On the ground, our team is coordinating with the Dominica Ministry of Health and with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) from the UN.

Drying out

In Coulibistre, Dominica, residents place their belongings outside to dry in the Caribbean sun after Erika’s rains flooded their homes.

 

HHI is providing a relief shipment of Heart to Heart Care Kits, requested by the Dominica Ministry of Health, and is already en route, transported by our global partner FedEx.

Support Relief Aid for Dominica & Keep HHI Prepared for the Next Storm

The storm’s effect will long be felt in Dominica and residents have a long road of rebuilding ahead.  As HHI is committed to help people in crisis, we’re honored to be able to assist in this relief effort.

See more photos from our team in Dominica…

A local newspaper sums up the feelings of the people of Dominica toward Tropical Storm Erika.

A local newspaper sums up the feelings of the people of Dominica toward Tropical Storm Erika.

 

Mudslide mess in Dominica

A muddy mess left behind in Dominica thanks to Tropical Storm Erika’s floods and mudslides.

 

Two Erika survivors

Two women recount the tale of Erika flooding this home. Notice the dried mud below their feet, and the mud and high-water mark on the far wall.

 

Dominica Street

Streets in Dominica are clogged by mud and dirt from mudslides caused by Tropical Storm Erika.

 

Photos by Josh Jakobitz / HHI

 

 

 

 

Tropical Storm Erika Pounds Dominica

A HHI Advance Team is on the way to Dominica.

floodwaters Dominica

Floodwaters rush by damaged homes in Dominica.

 

So far, Erika has claimed 20 lives on this tiny island.

Before it dissipated, Tropical Storm Erika dropped more than a foot of rain onto Dominica in the eastern Caribbean.  It’s a mountainous island and Erika caused flash floods and mudslides, heavy rains washed away homes, belongings and damaged communities.

Our Advance Team is on the way.  Their task is to determine the exact needs of the people of Dominica and pave the way for relief supplies from HHI.

Please help us respond.  Donate to Dominica Relief.

 

Donate Now

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ailing Pregnant Woman Aided by Haiti Med Team

Along the remote southern coast of Haiti, a pregnant woman needed rapid medical care.  Her blood pressure was too high.  This was an emergency situation and she needed to get to a hospital as soon as possible.  Fortunately, one of our Haitian Medical Teams was in the right place at the right time to help.

Woman in Boat

On the beach in Belle Anse, Haiti, a woman is helped into a life-preserver as she prepares to travel by boat to a hospital in Jacmel due to complications with her pregnancy.

 

This happened on the day one of our medical teams held clinic in Corail Lamothe, a small village a few miles inland from Haiti’s Caribbean coast.  Our medical teams in Haiti hold clinic days on a rotating basis in 16 locations throughout the island nation and Corail Lamothe is one of these spots.  It’s remote and lacking in any basic services.

Our team this day consisted of two doctors and two nurses – Drs. Jackenson Davilmar and Kethia Lamour, and nurses Ludnie Janvier and Nathalie Pierre.  Haitians all, they provide direct patient care along with our other Haitian Medical Teams to a population of approximately a quarter-million people in the remote and rugged mountains of southeast Haiti.

 

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys.  Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for both the mother and the baby  – Mayo Clinic

 

When the pregnant woman arrived at the clinic, she was full-term, and just about ready to deliver her baby. Our team knew she was in trouble.  She had very high blood pressure.  A pregnancy disorder called Preeclampsia, without quick treatment, can have dire results for both the mother and child.  She needed more care than our team could provide on the spot, she needed to get to a hospital and she needed to get to one quickly.  The problem – how to get her there?

 

Corail Lamothe pin

This satellite image shows Corail Lamothe and Belle Anse on Haiti’s southern coast. The city of Jacmel, the location of the nearest hospital, is a distance of about 30 miles by sea.

 

The quickest and simplest way to get her to a hospital would be by boat.  The rock-strewn roads in this remote area of Haiti are difficult to drive, to say the least, and taking the woman by vehicle could have taken hours and would have been terribly uncomfortable.

 

One of our Haitian Medical Teams once helped to deliver a baby on the side of a road

Our team loaded the woman into a vehicle and arranged for a boat to meet them on the beach in the town of Belle Anse, about a 40 minute drive from the clinic site.  Splitting the cost with the Corail Lamothe Federation, a local community group, we hired a boat and driver to serve as a waterborne ambulance, and accompanied by another nurse, the ailing mother made the roughly 30-mile trip by sea to reach the city of Jacmel and the new Hospital Saint-Michel.

 

Newborn Mother of baby

 

As the photos show – once she reached the hospital the woman gave birth to healthy baby. At last report both are doing well.  If it hadn’t been for the quick action by our team, the results may have turned out poorly for both mother and child.

 

You can support our work in Haiti.

Please donate to expand access to health for people like this mother and her child.

 

 

 

Med Student Volunteer Team to make Ripple Effect

The second winner of the 2014 Ripple Effect Contest has her ‘boarding pass’ and will join three other medical students on a humanitarian service trip to Haiti in the summer 2015.

RE SUNY student

Kathleen Iles is presented with a ‘boarding pass’ by Steve Hower of HHI (left in photo), and David Allyn of Welch Allyn, after being named a winner of the Ripple Effect contest.

 

Kathleen Iles, a first-year medical student at SUNY Upstate Medical University, was announced March 17th as one of two winners of the 2014 Ripple Effect Contest, a joint initiative of Heart to Heart International and Welch Allyn designed to inspire medical students to “change the world by giving back to their communities.”

The Ripple Effect Contest encourages medical students to use social media to share how they will create their own “ripple effect” of good in their community or globally.  Entrants were asked to ‘like’ the Ripple Effect program page on Facebook and share a picture with a short essay or a short video showcasing their “ripple effect” — a brief narrative about how they would “change the world” by using their training to help those in greatest need.

Iles, along with three other medical students to win the humanitarian service trip, will work alongside physicians and aid workers in impoverished communities in Haiti this summer. She will join inaugural 2013 Ripple Effect winners Oluwatoni Aluko, from Meharry Medical College, and Meghan Meghpara, from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine on the trip, as well as the other 2014 winner Matthew Schilling, from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

 

Building a Healthy Future in Haiti

A joint project between Heart to Heart International and BD continues to make a positive impact in Haiti, in part by providing training for healthcare workers in communities across the country.
What follows is a guest post from a member of the most recent BD Volunteer Service Team recently returned from Haiti.

stephanieHeart to Heart International continues to build an empowered and healthy Haiti through its training programs to address basic human needs

By Sushmita Bandopadhyay, BD VST member

“I want my community to be saved from malaria. I am the only one in my family who has stepped forward to fight it. My parents are happy that I am able to help Ayiti,” says Stephanie (pictured above), a community health agent who got involved in this year’s healthcare worker training in Thiotte, Haiti.

There are a number of young people like Stephanie who are committed to improving basic healthcare situation in Haiti. They walk miles to attend training on water, sanitation, hygiene and infectious diseases that will be exercised to address the community health challenges. After the training, she will now be able to do temperature and blood pressure checks for her community.

Thiotte 025

The healthcare worker training was conducted by BD volunteers in Thiotte and in Belle Anse. Doctor OP Kansal, a BD volunteer, trained the participants on safe child delivery techniques in resource-limited settings. The group also went through a simulation exercise to better understand the concept.  As compared to last year’s training, this year’s curriculum distinctly included the WASH program that will help the community health agents greatly.  A staff member of HHI agreed that this training conducted by volunteers is very appropriate in this time when cholera seems to be prevalent in parts of Haiti, and added that the training manuals are a great reference for the health workers.

For some months now, HHI has been working on Kore Fanmi ­- a pilot program of the Haitian Government, funded by The World Bank in partnership with UNICEF, that intends to improve the provision of basic services to poor and vulnerable families in Haiti.  Several young and old people have been chosen to be a part of this movement who are undergoing training for Kore Fanmi.  Each trainer is responsible for a hundred families and makes regular visits to ensure family needs are understood and addressed well. Trainings and awareness workshops are being conducted across parts of the country and HHI is now working in Belle Anse in its second phase of the project.  Says John, a Kore Fanmi agent who attended the five-day workshop, “This year’s training has increased my knowledge and I feel I can contribute towards a healthier life in Haiti.”

Dr. OP

Over the years, such trainings have taught quality improvement methods to help communities manage the problems with confidence. For example, people are now eager to apply the cholera trainings and make progress. Health agents express an interest in attending such trainings which help them make a real change in the environment. Empowered with more knowledge and regular trainings, the community health care workers are daring to dream now. “My dream for Haiti is that every home has a ‘latrine’. I want to contribute towards this dream for my country,” says Andre, a participant with a twinkle in his eye.

These types of training programs and awareness workshops remain critical and are aiding communities in Haiti to live a better quality of life.

To Help the Most Vulnerable in Haiti

Heart to Heart International is currently working with UNICEF on a program entitled Kore Fanmi  in the southeast of Haiti – a multi-phase, multi-year project to connect remote communities and families with basic medical and other services.

UNICEF recently featured the Kore Fanmi program (see below for excerpts) and the technology used to survey those living in the most difficult-to-reach areas.

(c) UNICEF Haiti/2014/Nybo

A Heart to Heart International community agent, along with a UNICEF representative, conducts a survey in a remote area of Haiti. Photo courtesy: UNICEF Haiti/2014/Nybo

 

Thomas Nybo reported the story for UNICEF:
Bertha Pierre is a 49-year-old grandmother living high atop a mountain in a one-room shack with five family members. Their hut is a three-hour hike from the nearest town, and the family has called it home since a flood destroyed their house a year ago.

“Life has just been very difficult since last year, May 23rd,” she says. “That’s when we were hit with a flood that washed away all the topsoil, and killed all our farm animals. Since then, it has been very difficult to make ends meet. We have nothing. We have no land and we have no animals.”

But, a pilot programme is being launched with the aim of improving the lives of people just like her: the most-vulnerable Haitians, living in the hardest-to-reach areas. It’s called “Kore Fanmi” — which means “family support” in Haitian Creole. It’s a programme of the government of Haiti, which was started two years ago in partnership with the World Bank and UNICEF.

Heart to Heart International is implementing the plan on the ground.  For months, community agents organized by HHI traveled the roads and paths through the mountains of SE Haiti interviewing people and documenting the needs of families household by household.
HHI’s Samuel Desruisseaux, who is the Kore Fanmi Communal Coordinator for the Anse-a-Pitres area, is quoted in the story:

“…one of the positive impacts I’ve already seen, during the socio-economic survey, once the community understood the point of Kore Fanmi, to reach the most vulnerable, they went to find other families, to make sure everybody was included,” he says. “They refused to let anybody be excluded. The community is very motivated. They see it as their programme, and it will bring a lot of positive change.”

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Data collection during a Kore Fanmi survey is captured on a tablet. Photo courtesy: UNICEF Haiti/2014/Nybo

Access the full story at UNICEF Connect to learn more about the Kore Fanmi program & the technology used to reach these vulnerable populations in some of the most remote areas of Haiti.

 

Haiti Medical Team Delivers Baby on the Side of a Road

IT’S A GIRL!

One of Heart to Heart International’s Haitian Medical Teams helped a woman deliver a baby girl this week alongside a rural road in southeast Haiti.

Dr. Kethia Lamour delivers a petite fille – a little girl!

Here’s how it happened:  Our Southeast Medical Team, along with some volunteer nurses from Pennsylvania, was working in our clinic in Cascade Pichon –  a small, remote village found at the end of a road beneath towering mountains.  Word came that a pregnant woman was just up the road and about to deliver.  The mother-to-be had been walking to the Heart to Heart Clinic seeking help at the only medical facility in the region – but the baby was ready to come. Now.

Baby on the way!

Baby on the way!

Our team rushed up the road, and while family and other neighbors gathered around, helped the woman deliver a healthy petite fille, a little girl, right then and there.

Swaddling the brand new babe...

Swaddling the brand new babe…

All went well, and mother and child went to the clinic to rest and get cleaned up.  It’s a good thing our folks were there as complications can always arise, especially in such a remote area.  Great job by our Haitian Medical Team and by our volunteers!

The proud volunteer nurse!

Dana, the proud volunteer nurse!

These are the Heart to Heart staff & volunteers who helped deliver the baby girl in Cascade Pichon:

HHI’s Haitian Med Team – Southeast
Dr. Kethia Lamour
Nurse Elisabeth Lindor
Nurse Nathalie Pierre
Rodney Numa

HHI Volunteers
Nurse Dana Darnell – Downingtown, PA
Nurse Dianne Finnegan – Allentown, PA

HHI’s Haitian Medical Teams

HHI has three med teams comprised of Haitian medical professionals, who travel on a weekly circuit to all of our 14 clinics in the country.  The teams are made up of a doctor, a nurse, another nurse or a pharmacist, and a clinic/team coordinator.  While they work on a rotation, HHI brings in volunteers from the US and other countries to augment the team.  We’re always recruiting medical volunteers to work with us in Haiti.  Join us!

 

New Epidemic Rapidly Spreads Across Haiti

Chikungunya Virus in Haiti(MAY 2014) – A new epidemic has exploded across Haiti in recent days, already sickening thousands and stressing an already taxed healthcare system.  The epidemic has doubled the amount of patients at the Heart to Heart clinics in Port-au-Prince and in Leogane.  Even some members of our HHI staff are now coming down with this illness.

chikungunya-virusAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): the Chikungunya Virus (pronounced: chih-koon-Goon-yah) appeared for the first time in the Americas in December 2013 on the island of St. Martin and from there has spread quickly across the Caribbean.  It’s an illness that has until now been confined to the other side of the world, mostly in Africa and Asia.  Now that it’s the rainy season on Hispaniola – Chikungunya is spreading exponentially in Haiti.

Chikungunya is spread by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, and while rarely fatal, it is a debilitating illness. The symptoms are similar to those of dengue fever, another disease spread by these mosquitoes.
Someone afflicted with Chikungunya will have:

  • fever
  • swollen joints
  • joint pain, sometimes severe
  • may also have a headache, muscle pain and a rash

Many people afflicted by this illness will feel better in about a week. However, in certain cases, the joint pain will become chronic and last for months, even for a few years.  Again the CDC cautions that there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the chikungunya virus infection.

But we’re doing what we can.  We’re increasing the number of Haitian medical staff at our clinics to handle the patient overload, working to treat the symptoms with what works – fluids and pain/fever reducing medicine, and mounting an education operation to deliver mosquito netting and to inform people as to this newest disease to afflict Haiti.

This outbreak of Chikungunya Fever is exactly why HHI needs to be prepared to respond quickly to people in need. We’ve already taken action. We had to.  But we can only sustain our response, and prepare for what comes next, by donors stepping up to help.

PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING NOW TO OUR DISASTER READINESS & RESPONSE FUND.

ARE YOU A MEDICAL PROVIDER WHO WANTS TO VOLUNTEER IN HAITI?