In mid-October, just days following Hurricane Matthew, HHI was holding emergency response clinics in Jeremie (at epicenter of the class 4 hurricane) about 200 miles west of Port-au-Prince in the Grand’Anse area. Knowing our experience with Cholera, the ministry of health asked us to move about 45 minutes outside of Jeremie to a commune called Marfranc where Cholera cases were appearing.
A roof-damaged and unstaffed, the Cholera treatment unit (CTU) was there along with a heavily damaged primary care health clinic. All water sources were heavily contaminated after the storm, and there was a lack of qualified health organizations available to take responsibility.
We took on all of that: repairing the damaged CTU; sending in fixed and mobile medical teams (Haitians only); providing huge quantities of medicines (thank you FedEx!); hiring a contractor to repair the CTU and health center and cleaning up the water supply. Today we are still working on the repairs to the health center, but the primary care team is working in an adjacent school building until it is completed. We have a mobile primary care team that goes out to remote areas of the commune five days a week, bringing medical care to people who many times had no care at all. The water for the CTU (which is also available to the residents of Marfranc) is now free of contamination and safe to drink thanks to Water Mission. The well has a solar-powered pump (replacing a pre-existing handpump) and WM’s novel filtration system that allows us to keep our patients healthy.
The CTU itself is not only repaired but much better designed and equipped than before the storm…including a separate pediatric area. Many of these improvements were designed by our staff and implemented very quickly.
After multiple inspections by many governmental bodies including the Haitian ministry of health and USAID, the Mafranc CTU is considered the highest quality cholera unit in the area. Having seen a few Ebola treatment units in Liberia, I can say that this operation is well done. The WHO representative told me on Friday that it was the model they want all other NGO’s to follow. We are very proud of our Haitian leadership for what they have accomplished and the quality of care they are delivering.
Let me pause and say we could not have done all of this without the support that FedEx and other corporate donors provided. Last week our grant request to USAID was approved, and we will have their support to keep this work going forward, but without the compassion and generous support of our private donors, we could not have done this. So far in Haiti since Hurricane Mathew, HHI clinicians have treated over 13,000 people, and that impact is significant in many remote communities.
Another exciting addition to Marfranc was their first ever laboratory…a portable lab donated by Abbott was hand delivered by Cynthia Kelley, one of our most experienced laboratorians. She trained the new staff on lab procedures and tests for the Cholera unit. Cynthia will return in January for follow-up training and to deliver a second machine to a hospital in nearby Jeremie, where she will also conduct training.
HHI has been asked by USAID to rehabilitate and operate another CTU in a remote and difficult area, 2 hours west of Jeremie. On Friday the WHO approached us about repairing two other CTU’s and being on standby to operate them with 48 hours notice. So it looks like a busy time ahead!
As the end of the year approaches, I want to thank all of our donors, for support that allows Heart to Heart International to bring access to healthcare in some of the most challenging places in the world.
Please continue supporting our response at: www.h2hi.org