A Clinic That Ebola Closed

The Life Care Health Clinic is just one clinic in the Liberian countryside, but its story is shared by so many across this country.  It’s a story of frustration, incapacity and loss of knowing what could possibly be done next.

Life Care Health Clinic

The clinic is located in the interestingly named Soul Clinic community of Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia, Liberia.  Our team – myself, Gary, Sue, Dan – along with James, our guide, came to learn more about how health providers are faring in this time of Ebola, and to provide some supplies we had brought with us. We had an opportunity to sit and talk with the small clinic staff and listened mostly to Mr. Tia, the clinic administrator, as he talked about his clinic, the community and what they’ve had to deal with.

This tiny clinic has a two-bed male ward, two-bed female ward, a delivery room, a pharmacy, and it serves a community of about 4,000 people.  When Ebola came into their community they were unprepared for the onslaught of patients, and woefully under-supplied and under-staffed.

They had no way to protect themselves from the Ebola virus, nor did they have a way to determine who actually has Ebola or who has something else like a bad case of malaria or cholera.  At first they tried to just turn away those that had symptoms, but it quickly became clear that it was hard to tell who was infected with Ebola and who wasn’t.  So the difficult decision was made that they simply must close the clinic.

Gary & Sue at Soul Clinic

Sue & Gary with Life Care Health Clinic staff in Liberia

 

Mr. Tia told us that out of 50 deaths in the past few months, maybe 20 to 30 are from Ebola and that perhaps the rest could have been prevented with regular medical care, but there is no way for people to get treated now.  Beyond Ebola, his biggest concern is people dying of malaria, which is so much more common than Ebola.

We listened, sitting on the porch of the clinic as the African rains fell, and thanked Mr. Tia and his staff for sharing their stories and concerns.  Before we departed, we left one of our Ready Relief Boxes full of medical supplies, thermometers, disposable stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs.

We wanted to do more.  As we drove away we hoped that soon we will.

 

Advance Team in Liberia on Front Lines of Ebola Fight

The HHI Advance Team arrived in Liberia and is already hard at work – meeting with partners, touring facilities and getting a lay of the land – prepping the way for the deployment of volunteer medical teams to provide care for the people of Liberia.

Advance Team & James

The team is being assisted by James Williams (striped shirt in photo above), the acting director of Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia, a Liberian non-profit that develops community-based healthcare programs.  James is helping to serve as a guide for our Advance Team.  A great connection!

Team member Sue Mangicaro, RN, from HHI’s corporate partner Welch Allyn, reports they heard both good and bad news when they met with representatives of Medical Teams International.  The good: MTI is in the process of training community healthcare workers on prevention and treatment of Ebola, however the bad is that they have had to pull their staff out of clinics because of the inherent risks involved in triage and contracting the disease.  The real fear of Ebola is causing the healthcare system to collapse, as HHI CEO Jim Mitchum recently discussed in an op-ed.

MTI clinic closed

A clinic closed in Monrovia, Liberia due to the Ebola outbreak.

 

handwashing station

Pictured above is one of many handwashing stations the team has come across in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia.  They reported the smell of bleach hangs in the air, a comforting aroma, as bleach is used to kill the Ebola virus on surfaces, protective equipment and on skin.

Look for more updates from the Advance Team in Liberia soon!

 

Donate now to sustain OPERATION EBOLA and help save lives in West Africa.

Donate Now!

 

 

 

 

 

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?

A Return to the Philippines

A Filipino man carries a HHI Ready Relief Box onto a beach on Isla Gigantes, Philippines, after offloading it from a boat.Heart to Heart International has returned to the Philippines – leading a second team of volunteer medical providers to operate makeshift clinics and bring healthcare to people in far-flung regions of the island nation.

This follows the first wave of our Typhoon Relief Operations and the successful deployment of more than two dozen medical volunteers and staff in November/December of 2013 to areas like Tacloban and Ormoc in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
You can read about those efforts HERE, HERE and HERE.

This second team is smaller but more mobile, as they travel across the central Philippines by air, by vehicle and by boat in order to reach quite remote locations.  The folks living in these areas, Isla Gigantes for example, were pummeled by Haiyan/Yolanda, yet have seen very little aid – and no medical attention to speak of.

So far, the team – made up of three HHI staff, a doctor, a physician’s assistant (PA) and 4 nurses – has met and treated nearly 400 people in just a couple of days.  From here, the team will travel to the large island of Samar, visiting communities that took the full brunt of the typhoon and are still dealing with the aftermath.

Click on the images below to see more from the Heart to Heart International team in the Philippines…

Aid Reaches Those in Need in the Philippines

Ray & Zeus feature size 16:9While many spent the long Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. with family and friends, and getting into the swing of the holiday season, in the Philippines… HHI staff and volunteers continued to provide medical care and deliver aid to those in need, like Ray and his son Zeus in the photo above.

As of this writing, it’s been nearly a month since Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the central Philippines.  In that time Heart to Heart International’s Advance Team and medical volunteers have held clinics in several locations in the typhoon zone on Leyte Island and Samar Island, seeing hundreds of patients for a variety of ailments.

As we wrote about in a previous post, we’ve also shipped more than 44 tons of aid containing food, shelter supplies, medicine, medical equipment and Heart to Heart Care Kits.  Those Care Kits are now in the hands of the people who need them.  Check out a few photos of what you made happen!

 

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Get Your HHI Fall Newsletter Here!

newsletter 2013 imageHeart to Heart International’s Fall 2013 Newsletter is
now available for download as a PDF.

To access the 2013 Fall Newsletter, simply click one of the images in this email to download a PDF of the newsletter, or click here.

This version is designed to be easily read and viewed on your computer or mobile device. (mobile users: this is best viewed using a PDF viewer like the free Adobe Reader app). This format is also perfect for sharing with others!

newsletter image verticalThe content of this online version is the same as our printed version… But there’s more!
Look for ‘clickable’ links and images throughout to learn and see more of what HHI is doing.  In this edition you’ll learn:

  • Why Sustainability is so important to us and the people we serve
  • How HHI is addressing water and sanitation issues in the fight against cholera in Haiti
  • The amount of aid delivered around the USA & the World in the first half of 2013
  • How corporate donors help us create a Ripple Effect in safety-net clinics
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • How You Can Help in 4 Easy Ways!

Thank you for taking the time to read about the latest with Heart to Heart International…
…and Thank You for your continued support!

Welch Allyn Volunteer Team in Haiti – Slideshow

Recently, a five-member team of Welch Allyn employees traveled to Haiti on a Volunteer Service Trip (VST) to assist our Haiti Operations.
For a week, the team conducted training on donated equipment, provided direct patient care and even got sweaty and covered in paint putting finishing touches on a Heart to Heart clinic.
We’ve recently showcased their trip in two blog posts written by team member Sue Mangicaro, RN, Director of Clinical Affairs at Welch Allyn, originally published on advanceweb.com.

Now we’d like to share more of the best photos from the team’s trip in a slideshow.  You can access Part One of Sue’s guest blog here… and Part Two here.

Click any photo below to enter the slideshow.  And enjoy!
DW HHI

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Welch Allyn Volunteer Team in Haiti (Part Two)

Recently, a five-member team of Welch Allyn employees traveled to the Caribbean on a Volunteer Service Trip (VST) to assist our Haiti Operations.
For a week, the team conducted training on donated equipment, provided direct patient care and even got sweaty and covered in paint putting finishing touches on a Heart to Heart clinic.

What follows is Part Two of a guest blog by Sue Mangicaro, RN, Director of Clinical Affairs at Welch Allyn, originally published on advanceweb.com, as she describes some of the team’s experiences as volunteers with Heart to Heart.
To read Part One, click…

Sue Mangicaro:  Today, John Haberstock and I headed to Dufort, Haiti, to work with two volunteer doctors from the United States and Dr. Jean-Anis Louis, the Haitian clinician who works with Heart to Heart. We drove to the clinic through an area that looked like a jungle with lush vegetation on roads that were really just a dirt path.

 

 

 

There were mango and papaya trees along the way, as well as goats, roosters, mules and oxen. While we may not always have what we need, we follow the Haitian saying, “dégagé,” which means to do the best with what you have.  Most of the time we have no running water nor electricity (at clinic sites), but are able to treat people with what we have available to us. We are seeing some Malaria, hypertension, dehydration and multiple infections. I can not stress how reassuring it is to have our Welch Allyn equipment with us, knowing that the devices are reliable, and the amazing group of interpreters who’ve become like family after years of working side-by-side.

 

The team that has been helping Heart to Heart construct a new healthcare clinic has also been very busy. They are determined to finish what they set out to do – get the clinic as close to being ready for use as possible. The team has completely finished painting the outside of the building, installed ceilings in five rooms, painted all five rooms and built the patient waiting area. All of this work was done in extreme heat and humidity with the help of the Haitian construction crew.
Jim Colvin said how grateful he was to be working with the Haitian crew, who were incredibly skilled, because they made it that much easier for our team to work together and complete this task. Steve Hower, director of corporate relations at Heart to Heart, was also a key participant and was willing to tackle any task at hand.

Click a photo below to enter slideshow mode…

Look for Part Three soon, with more photos from the Welch Allyn Volunteer Service Trip to Haiti with Heart to Heart International…
DW HHI

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Welch Allyn Volunteer Team in Haiti (Part One)

One of the many great things about the people at Welch Allyn is… they get it.  The medical equipment manufacturer has a great relationship with Heart to Heart International that continues to grow, and you’ll find the company’s support across many of our programs and projects.
Recently, a five-member team of Welch Allyn employees traveled to the Caribbean on a Volunteer Service Trip (VST) to assist our Haiti Operations.  For a week, the team conducted training on donated equipment, provided direct patient care and even got sweaty and covered in paint putting finishing touches on a Heart to Heart clinic.
What follows is from a guest blog from Sue Mangicaro, RN, Director of Clinical Affairs at Welch Allyn, as she describes some of the team’s experiences as volunteers.
DW HHI

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Sue Mangicaro:  Today we worked at a clinic in Bel Air, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, which is close to the former palace. I was struck by the progress and poverty in the region.
First the progress: When I first came to Haiti in January 2010, one month after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, and then a year later in February 2011, the area looked as though it was a war zone. So many homes and government buildings, including the palace, were destroyed and there was rubble everywhere. People were living in tents as far as the eye could see-not much had changed from January 2010 to February 2011.

During this 2013 trip, I immediately noticed a significant change on the drive to the clinic. Where the collapsed palace once stood, for a full year without any change, was now a clean open space. The tents that surrounded the palace for more than a year were now all gone. While there are still some tents scattered in the area, there is a significantly less than in 2011.

There were also drastic improvements made to the clinic in Bel Air. We once saw patients in makeshift exam areas, sometimes out in the open. We now have real exam rooms. And, where we used to dispense meds from a crude set up, they now have a small pharmacy. Finally, we previously had to send patients requiring blood work away, but now there is a small lab at the clinic to run tests.

Welch Allyn is donating equipment to the clinics here in Haiti. To make sure these clinics will get the most out of the devices, we have been training the Haitian triage nurse, the nurse manager and the Haitian family physician to use the Spot Vital Signs® Lxi that we left behind. The triage nurse was thrilled to have a device that could capture all the vital parameters she was currently capturing manually (with the exception of thermometry using a Braun ear thermometer) in such a short time.

After visiting the the clinic in the morning, we went to a nearby hospital that also has a teaching program for resident physicians. We met up with several ophthalmology residents and the chief resident, along with Dr. Frantz Codio, Heart to Heart’s Medical Logistics Director who coordinated the visit.
John Haberstock (in red in photo) trained the Haitian medical staff to use the iExaminer and they were thrilled to use the donated device.  I spoke to them about the value of acquiring vital signs, regardless of specialty, while Winsome Graham provided training on the donated Spot Lxi. Each resident physician wanted to use the products and were also very grateful for the donation to their program.

All in all, it was another great day in Haiti. The team commented on how quickly the week was going and how hard it is to believe it is our last day in clinic tomorrow. We head up to the mountains in Fondwa, about a three hour drive.  It will by my second trip to this clinic and I’m looking forward to the day!

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Look for Part Two soon as the team works construction and heads into the mountains, along with more photos of the volunteer team’s trip…
DW HHI

The Heart to Heart Experience…

No Ballrooms. No Ball Gowns.

For our 20th Anniversary, Heart to Heart is creating The Experience, an immersion into the world where Heart to Heart works and is making a difference daily in the lives of people in need.

We’re doing things differently.

Instead of hosting a formal gala event (which are always a great time!), this year we’re doing something more.  We’re creating The Heart to Heart Experience.

It’ll be held inside our Global Distribution Center, the hub of our logistics operations, and will be unlike anything we’ve done before, and likely attendees haven’t experienced either.  Attendees will enjoy hands-on, interactive scenarios along with opportunities to network, enjoy some world cuisine, catch up with friends and partners, and provide continuing support for Heart to Heart as we move into the next 20 years of operation.

There will be plenty more information to come…  For now, please check out The Heart to Heart Experience to read more and to purchase your tickets!

We’ll see you there!

DW HHI