Haiti’s health professionals remain focused on providing care, despite murder
By JO Haselhoef | Donor
Health professionals from the Haiti Health Network (HHN) met online on July 8 to discuss the impact of the assassination of President Jovenel Moises on the health sector, particularly in light of the national vaccine deployment plan published by the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) the previous week.
These frontline professionals represented organizations from Hope for Haiti, Hospital LumiÃ¨re Bonne Finn Sud and Care 2 Communities, among others, across Haiti and the United States. They quickly switched to work mode – one said his clinic was boarded up while another said his hospital was fully operational and receiving patients.
One by one, everyone gave updates, including their PPE supplies, ability to get oxygen, and whether doctors could get to their workplace safely.
Dr Marlene Adrien of Mission of Hope in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, said her clinic was closed because many staff were traveling near CitÃ© Soleil to work and they were not sure. of their safety. People are nervous, especially healthcare workers after a nurse was shot dead in an ambulance last week.
Barbara Campbell, Executive Director of HHN, hosted the meeting from her office in Twinsburg, Ohio.
âI remembered the sheer value of allowing people to share and hear from others [when] you face so much uncertainty and really fear, âCampbell said.
Get to know healthcare providers better
HHN was founded when the Cap Haitien Health Network merged with the Dalton Foundation, founded by entrepreneur A. Ray Dalton. It registered in 2019 as a Haitian non-profit association.
HHN creates connectivity and collaboration between all types of organizations and health professionals in Haiti, including those already networked by financial contract.
Dr Ted Kaplan, founder of the Legacy Group in Cap-Haitien, was among many providers who recognized the gaps and duplication that have occurred across the country’s healthcare system. For example, a volunteer specialist doctor might visit Haiti but no one would know, or she might end up spending her time doing primary care instead of the highly specialized surgery she was trained for, Kaplan said.
HHN needed to know who, what, where and how of all health professionals to solve these problems, and therefore mapped the first line, small rural and medium regional clinics and referral hospitals in the ten departments of Haiti.
In partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health, the five HHN staff in Haiti visited and collected data – from 1,300 health facilities – on access and possession of drugs, electricity, equipment
It offers regional details for COVID resources – such as testing locations and PPE supplies –
in addition to health care by location and medical specialty.
Campbell, who trained as a pharmacist and worked as a medical director in Haiti, sought a way for health care providers to share their knowledge and support with each other.
Before the pandemic, HHN held face-to-face conferences in Haiti. Campbell is now hosting nine monthly online meetings and six webinars as well as occasional group conversations like the July 8 session. She encourages new participations, especially in light of the questions providers have about COVID vaccination.
Before one of those online meetings, a community group in Seguin, where there are no medical services nearby, hooked up with Campbell. Seguin leaders shared that they had educated residents about wearing masks and washing their hands.
Campbell introduced them to the HHN database manager to enter their information and invited them to a bi-monthly network meeting. She followed up the next day, as she did to all attendees, emailing meeting notes and documents on COVID in French, English and Creole.
Complete the health care table
Conversations with providers brought to light the challenges of being one of the 2,000 healthcare professionals who HHN says work in Haiti.
It was as if âHaitian doctors were practicing medicine with their hands tied behind their backs,â Campbell said, âbut they’re still supposed to see 150 patients. “
HHN has since supplied equipment to 200 doctors, 350 nurses and 54 establishments in three departments in the North. Each vendor’s kit includes instruments, such as a stethoscope and glucometer, to help accurately diagnose basic infections, hypertension, diabetes, and asthma.
With the new equipment, the 225 beneficiary providers were able to see 58% more patients, according to the results of the HHN survey. Further distribution kits are expected to be deployed shortly.
HHN staff found that similar shortcomings occurred at the facilities. âYou quickly notice two people asking you for an ultrasound machine, and they’re literally a mile apart,â Campbell said.
Working with equipment vendors, HHN found standardized devices – like wall otoscopes and blood pressure monitors – to donate to 25 small to medium-sized regional clinics, also in northern Haiti.
The intention is to limit equipment downtime that affects patient care, Campbell said.
The equipment is all the same model, so if a medical team encounters a problem with one, HHN can make adjustments to all of them. Staff also ensure that additional replacement parts of this same equipment are in Haiti and provide repairs at no cost.
User feedback helps HHN staff continually refine their programs. Oddly enough, getting major medical supplies into Haiti isn’t the biggest challenge for HHN staff.
âThis is to retrieve the polls from our users,â Campbell said.
Campbell and Kaplan both talk about growth for the organization. For Campbell, he is stepping up his efforts to reach vendors and facilities in all departments with education, collaboration and equipment.
For Kaplan, growth means greater engagement in the network of all healthcare providers in Haiti, including some of the larger organizations like Albert Schweitzer Hospital and Partners in Health.
COVID vaccine management may bring healthcare providers together through HHN.
âIt’s a long and slow course, but you have to be prepared. You have to applaud small successes when you get them, âCampbell said,â otherwise you might get discouraged. “