Raising Lab Standards in Haiti

The lab standards training we provide in Haiti is having a real, lasting impact in improving systems and procedures in laboratories across the island nation.  Case in point – the laboratory at Lascahobas Hospital.

Haiti Lab work 1

Standards training improves processes in Haiti laboratories, helping lab technicians like the one pictured here drawing blood from a patient.

 

Lascahobas Hospital is in the central highlands of Haiti and is part of the Zanmi Lasante healthcare system, a long-term project with the organization Partners in Health.  Prior to Heart to Heart International (HHI) providing training for lab managers and technicians, the laboratory at Lascahobas was audited and met just 6% of the World Health Organization Laboratory Standards.

In 2011, working in partnership with BD, we launched a countrywide training program to teach the WHO Laboratory Standards to lab technicians and managers with a goal of seeing year-to-year improvements. The program’s expectation for laboratory staff attending the training is that with diligent work and systemic changes in their labs they can attain a score of 95%, or 5 Stars, under the WHO standards.

Haiti Lab Training 1

In Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, lab managers attend standards training provided by HHI, in partnership with BD.

 

By the time the Lascahobas lab was audited again, 18 months after HHI’s first training in Haiti, the Lascahobas lab manager Florence Joseph and Betty Alexander, the director of laboratories for Zanmi Lasante, had attended just two of the one-week training sessions.

This next audit showed remarkable improvement, with the Lascahobas lab scoring 77% of standards. This was an amazing transformation for a small, rural laboratory in Haiti. This leap forward is a testament to the importance of investing in improving lab standards and highlights the dedication of those attending the training.

Now, those responsible for these improvements continue to attend training sessions, and have all become leaders in the newly formed Haiti chapter of the Clinical Laboratory Managers Association (CLMA), which HHI helped to establish. Through the resources this professional association provides, and with the standards training provided by HHI, these Haitian lab professionals are passing on their knowledge to their peers and working in a supported, coordinated manner to improve laboratory medicine in Haiti.

TO DATE: 247 laboratory managers, representing more than 80 laboratories, hospitals and clinics, from across Haiti have attended the WHO Laboratory Standards training provided by Heart to Heart International in partnership with BD.

Learn more about our Lab and Clinic services.

Haiti Lab work 3

 

 

Lab Training in Papua New Guinea

The Lemacot Health Center laboratory on the Papua New Guinea island of New Ireland had closed several years ago due to a lack of funding.  Now it’s opening again, health workers are being trained, and residents of this remote island in the Pacific Ocean have better access to healthcare.

PNG kid

(Ed. note) For several years, Heart to Heart International has worked in Haiti with corporate partner BD to develop and strengthen laboratory services in both urban and rural communities and to provide healthcare worker training through BD’s Volunteer Service Trip program. Now, drawing on that experience and fostering new partner relationships, we’ve replicated the training program on the other side of the world – Papua New Guinea.

Working with BD and the organization Australian Doctors International, we developed a one week laboratory training program to teach the World Health Organization (WHO) Laboratory Standards to lab managers on New Ireland (map).  The lessons include projects the laboratorians can take home and implement within a few weeks or months to increase the accuracy and consistency of laboratory testing.  This results in better patient diagnosis and treatment no matter the remote and rustic locations in which these lab managers work.

PNG  training

The Lemacot Health Center serves 16,813 people within a 4 hour walk.  Lemacot nurses go into the countryside in order for people to access services no more than 10 minutes from home.  The nurses deliver more than 400 babies a year and track vaccinations for all the children in their coverage area.  Lemacot treats TB patients, HIV patients, trauma as well as general medicine.  Nurses, midwives, community health workers and health officers serve the local population – all without a physician.

PNG clinic

Lemacot Head Nurse, Sister Kathy, told us she could only attend the first and last day of our laboratory training.  We were pleasantly surprised when she came the next day and said she’d be there all week. She told the class that she had been working with her nursing staff to standardize practice in the health center.  As it turns out, the class we had taught on the first day was on the importance of SOP’s – Standardized Operating Procedures.  She said it rang true with her.

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She told us that she needs to encourage her staff to write and follow standardized procedures, knowing it’s key to consistent good nursing care.  It is all about the patient and this is the way to be sure patients receive the best care possible.

PNG cert

We went to Papua New Guinea to improve laboratory science on the island of New Ireland and it looks as though our lessons will spread beyond the confines of the laboratory and into general healthcare.  If our efforts result in improved, consistent patient care in multiple areas – it’s more than we could have hoped for.

PNG  sunrise

Learn more about our Lab and Clinic services.

 

 

Alo Ki Soti Ayiti, or Hello From Haiti…

The country of Haiti is one of the most dynamic and beautiful places you’ll find on this planet.  It’s also the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a history of economic and political troubles. Combine that with the lingering effects of the devastating earthquake of January 2012…

As many of our followers and supporters know, Heart to Heart has a number of operations underway in Haiti from supporting partner clinics with medical aid and expertise, to conducting laboratory technician training, and many things in between.

As of this typing, a handful of Heart to Heart staffers are preparing to deploy to several locations throughout the country of Haiti to continue the training of local healthcare providers, deliver medical aid and to coordinate volunteers who have given their time and talents to come to Haiti to sweat and to work.

As we’ve been working here in Haiti for more than two years since just after the quake, we have both in-country staff, Haitian and American, as well as Heart to Heart Headquarters staff who have spent quite a bit of time in Haiti.  This is my first trip.

I’ve been in Port-au-Prince, specifically Petionville at the HHI Volunteer Center, for a couple of days now.  It’s already been eye-opening.  Over the coming days, I hope to share some of my experiences, and of course, photos of our adventures and our work with you.

In the morning, several of us are heading to Leogane, a city due west of Port-au-Prince along the coast.  The quake’s epicenter was a short distance away and leveled the town.  Will be in touch soon.

DW HHI