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

HHI and AAFPF Team Up For Training

Heart to Heart International recently hosted a delegation to Haiti from the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation. The week-long trip was part of its Family Medicine Cares International (FMCI) program, and was divided into three components: Patient Care, Service Projects & Medical Education.

The Medical Education team held two symposiums across Haiti to provide specialized continuing education for Haitian doctors and healthcare providers. Their topic focused on cardiovascular disease.

Newspaper ArticleOne of those locations was in the historic city of Cap Haitien, on the country’s north coast. The symposium in Cap Haitien was documented by a journalist from the French-language Le Nouvelliste, Haiti’s oldest and largest daily newspaper.
Click the screengrab to the left to see the original article and to read it in French.
Or look below to read the article translated directly into English.

FOR A SURVEY OF THE LEVEL OF HEALTH IN HAITI
Le Nouvelliste | Publié le : 2013-02-06
by: Daphney Valsaint Malandre

Cap Haitien, Haiti — While the final preparations for organizing the carnival takes place in a city of Cap-Haïtien boosted, a group of Haitian and foreign doctors met at the training center of the Justinian Hospital for a symposium Monday, February 4, 2013 .

This activity falls within the framework of a project resulting from the agreement between Dr. Andre Vulcain, the “Project Haiti”, the American Academy of Family Physicians and Heart to Heart International. This project aims primarily to raise the level of health in Haiti while focusing on family medicine. Dr. Andre Vulcain, Haitian doctor, trained in Haiti but who have a specialization in family medicine at the University of Miami, working for the “Haiti Project”, a project of the School of Medicine of the University of Miami that supports Justinian Hospital for nearly 12 years.

Dr. Vulcan returns to Cap-Haitien regularly to provide support for training family physicians can take care of most health problems that may be present in a population. The “Haiti Project” has also helped the hospital develop a service family physicians and to develop a program of support for PV / HIV and a physical rehabilitation program. Their main goal is to assist existing entities and help them to build their capacity. To do this, they are backed by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the NGO Heart to Heart International.

The mission of the American Academy of Family Physicians in Haiti spans three phases. The organization of the Cap-Haitien symposium on cardiovascular disease in partnership with Dr Vulcan is the first. A second symposium will be held in Port-au-Prince Thursday, February 7. Meanwhile, a part of the team providing care to the needy in the area of Leogane while another is actively working in clinics and orphanages in neighborhoods like Bel Air.

Haiti has not been the first country to benefit from the assistance of these practitioners from the United States. These have indeed worked in many other underdeveloped countries. Heart to Heart International, a nongovernmental organization based in the United States, meanwhile, already working in Haiti for five years. The organization has shown, among others, has enough on Haitian soil immediately after the earthquake of 12 January 2010. At that time, there was talk of bringing first aid and provide necessary equipment. This time around, she wants to launch a new program that has already been proven in several Soviet countries for twenty years.

Heart to Heart International has already set up a permanent office in Haiti and several clinics in areas such as Leogane, Bel-Air and the south-east. A staff of about forty Haitians supported by foreign doctors ensure the proper functioning of these clinics. The organization is not only combined with other entities such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, but also with the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) to help Haitian doctors to become specialists in family medicine and increase the level of education of nurses.
These symposia which is attended by representatives of the American Academy of Family Physicians and Heart to Heart International and Dr. Andre Vulcain are in fact the beginnings of a project should extend the long term.

A Moldova Update…

Want to bring you up to date on Heart to Heart’s anniversary airlift to Moldova, currently underway.
Our medical & non-medical volunteers, along with State Department personnel have been busy: teaching, training, delivering medical aid, traveling the country, meeting with dignitaries and ordinary people. It’s quite a lot to pack into a nine day visit. But our team reports everything is going very well.
Following is an update from HHI’s Dr. Gary Morsch, who is part of the volunteer medical group, along with photos from the trip.

DW HHI

THE BIGGEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED…

We’re now in day five of our nine-day mission. The medical education team is putting on seminars on the topic of hospice and palliative care, with our doctors teaching in medical schools and hospitals, while our nurses are teaching with the Moldovan Nurses Association. We also have a non-medical volunteer team with us, and they have been working on several projects.

I got to see one of their projects yesterday when we visited the town of Lipoveni, where the service team provided sports equipment for the school, and a backpack filled with school supplies, plus a blanket, to every one of the 270 students.

The community put on a big ceremony, with dancing and music performances.The mayor said that this was the biggest thing that had ever happened to their community. They were ecstatic, to say the least!

Over the next few days, we’ll continue our medical education programs, while the service team finishes building a gazebo for hospice patients at a large hospital in town. Friday night the US Ambassador is hosting a dinner at his residence in honor of Heart to Heart.

Everything is going very, very well! It really couldn’t have gone much better… $12 million in meds, a super team of volunteers, and great work being done by the medical education and service teams! Thanks to the home team who came through with a plane load of medicines, and organized this great airlift… perhaps the best project ever!

Dr. Gary Morsch

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On The Road to Leogane, Haiti

Recently, yours truly traveled to Haiti for more than a week.  Having just come on board here at Heart to Heart, this was my first chance to see our Haitian operations firsthand.  I was more than impressed.  My trip coincided with the first week of a three-week volunteer trip sponsored by BD.  And so, I was also there to support BD’s communications team as they documented the volunteer experience in the many locations where HHI works.
Here now, more of my thoughts, impressions & observations of my trip to Haiti. 
Plus photos! Click them to see full-size.
  And you can read my first post from Haiti, here. -DW HHI

 

We’ve returned to Petionville, one of the suburb cities of Port-au-Prince, and to the Heart to Heart Volunteer Center where it is calm.  The previous couple of days were spent in and around Leogane, Haiti.  Leogane is a seaside town steeped in Haitian history and is due west of Port-au-Prince by about 20 miles.  As I’ve learned, distance here in Haiti is judged not on actual distance like mileage, or kilometers, but by time.  “How far is that place?”, “Oh, about an hour…”

 

 

 

This is something that is just a fact of life here, for Haitians and for volunteers.  The traffic is, shall we say, challenging.  Especially for those of us from the US, because there aren’t many rules. We left the Petionville center at noon on the first Monday of the trip.  We didn’t arrive at the Leogane volunteer center, 20 or so miles away, until after 2pm.  Those 20 miles took two hours and 8 minutes. A very long trip for such a short distance.

 

 

However, during the journey, you really can take in the city life of Port-au-Prince and it’s outskirts.  The streets and sidewalks seem to vibrate with the hustle and bustle of people on the move.  Tap-Taps, pick-ups converted into taxis, are piled with people going somewhere.  Street vendors fill long sections of sidewalk, hawking everything from fresh fruit and blocks of Haitian sugar, to cell phone cards and individual auto parts.

Women, and men too, will balance their cargo onto their heads and navigate all of the traffic and others without stumbling. And just about anything goes up top: fruit, baguettes, even a big bag full of little bags of water.

 

 

It’s not just the traffic that makes the journey long, the road plays its part.  In some spots they’re flooded days after a rain, with good-sized potholes hidden under the murky water. And there’s the slurry-like combo of rock and mud that washes down steep roads during a rain and deposits right onto the main highway to become a wide rumbly speed bump.

 

 

 

There are sometimes roadblocks, either constructed by local factions or by the UN MINUSTAH Security Forces. All in all it makes for a fascinating journey. A great welcome to a dynamic culture.  And we got to drive it several times.

 

 

 

 

After those two hours of traffic and sensory overload, we arrived at Heart to Heart’s Leogane Volunteer Center.  We would base ourselves here for a couple of days, bunking alongside a Haitian doctor, and the nurses and lab techs from BD.  Based at the volunteer center, they rotate through three separate Partner Clinics around Leogane.

When we, the Comm Team arrived, the BD volunteers were already at work.  More on that in our next post…

 

DW HHI

Heart to Heart Heads To Honduras

In a few short hours, Heart to Heart is off to Honduras! The adventure begins! 
We are not mobilizing for a disaster thankfully, rather we’re joining with one of our great partners that is doing great work in the Central American country.  We’re also delivering one of our Ready Relief Boxes.  More on that in a moment…

Global Brigades is the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. They are involved in projects around the globe, using their talents, energy, can-do attitude and volunteer spirit to work toward improving the quality of life in under-resourced communities.

We’ll be joining several of GB’s Medical Brigades for a week’s time as they work in several clinics in Honduras. We’ll see the students in action and watch how they put HHI’s Ready Relief Boxes to good use.

So follow our in-country adventures here on this blog, on our Facebook Page and on our Twitter feed.  We expect to have some great stories to tell and some great photos to share.  That is, if we have a good internet connection!

DW HHI

HHI To Send Medical Aid to South Sudan

courtesy International Medical Corps

While issues plaguing east-central Africa have become a recent hot topic on social media, Heart to Heart International has long been aware of the needs, and has worked, in that part of the world. So has one of our great partners, the International Medical Corps (IMC).

Heart to Heart is currently working with IMC to provide more than one ton of humanitarian medical aid and supplies to support IMC’s continuing efforts in one of the most troubled areas on the globe. That is a lot of needed medicine for an initial shipment!

Here is a brief, even simplistic, synopsis of what is happening in the region:  South Sudan is a new country.  It gained independence in July 2011 following a half-century of warfare between the North and the South, and between and involving many other groups. This created vast numbers of refugees.  Independence has also brought about a large number of ‘returnees’, people moving into South Sudan. Renewed and continued fighting, political/economic issues, border clashes, along with large populations on the move… all of this has created an environment where people are in need.

The International Medical Corps has operated in Sudan & now South Sudan for years and is currently serving hundreds of thousands of refugees, returnees and other vulnerable populations in both rural and urban areas, working to improve not just primary medical care, but long-term health as well.

We here at Heart to Heart are proud to partner with such a fine group that mirrors our own mission to improve global health.

DW HHI