Since arriving shortly after the January 12, 2010 earthquake, RMF has continued to move forward with a comprehensive long-term strategy to implement more sustainable health services development in Haiti and help rebuild the shattered health system. RMF made free health services available at Lambert Santé Surgical Clinic in Pétion-Ville from 2010 to 2011, offering quality health care to patients in need of primary, secondary, and even tertiary care; more than 1,800 consultations and 450 surgeries were provided during this period.
Since 2012, RMF has initiated an Orthopedic Surgical Support Program in Haiti, which provides surgical treatment to children and young adults not only from the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, but also from very remote provincial towns in the southern and northern departments of the country. These young people suffer from chronic or acquired orthopedic conditions, sometimes very severe, ranging from post-traumatic impairments to congenital deformities.
In December 2015, as we finalized the 50th surgery, we concluded the third installment of this program, which included patients with very severe forms of Blount’s disease, a common condition afflicting a specific ethnic group in Haiti with weight and specific morphologic features, as well as patients with congenital and acquired lower limb deviations, resulting mostly from complications of inadequate treatment of fractures in inappropriate healthcare facilities. Since this program has always been guided by one of our core beliefs—to provide comprehensive care to the populations we touch—some of the children with ailments in both of their lower limbs were treated in different installments of the program, providing continuity of care to these young patients.
This surgical program is significantly impacting young lives in Haiti, helping children and young adults improve their final outcomes in society by treating severe and disabling conditions which make them both outcasts and depressed in their early years. What the program provides is, in one word, hope: hope for children and young adults to find happiness and participate in all activities normally reserved for their age group, hope to pursue their dreams and goals, and also hope for parents as their children become more functional and productive members of the community.
Centre Hospitalier Sainte Marie (CHSM) is a new, private and socially conscious healthcare facility located in the downtown Port-au-Prince area, with the dictum, “Put the patient first.” One of CHSM’s main goals is to pursue ways and resources to organize affordable quality care packages for the Haitian population. We decided to implement the Community Outreach & Rehabilitation Effort (CORE) as a first building block in our envisioned network. The CORE project targets four healthcare components: emergency, family, surgical, and preventative care. We believe that these components are key to providing a high level of comprehensive care to our target populations, and with the generous help of LDS Charities, we were recently able to start getting it underway.
In the aftermath of 2016’s Hurricane Matthew we decided to implement the preventative component of the project around (but not limited to) efforts to control a resurgence and endemicity of cholera and other communicable diseases in that region. We decided to encompass a much larger scope of activities and began by partnering with a local organization, ADRA Haiti, that focuses on adequate and long-term education of the population in these affected areas. The team of medical and paramedical professionals will complete their training by the end of March 2017 and begin their mission (scheduled to last 3+ months) to establish community centered activities in these locations, including child survival, sexual and reproductive health, infectious disease, water sanitation, and hygiene promotion interventions.
We were also able to start strengthening some aspects of the emergency care program by providing Centre Hospitalier Sainte Marie (CHSM) with tools which will allow them to respond to one of the most common causes of ER visits among low to no-income people in Haiti: open fractures from motor vehicle accidents. Acquisition of external fixation and powered surgical tools was implemented for the treatment of identified patients in the emergency and surgical program components of CORE, which offers comprehensive emergency care at a very affordable cost.
Selection and screening have been finalized for the first 10 patients in the surgical program, and surgical procedures are scheduled to start on March 20th, 2017. We will continue to identify children with orthopedic conditions throughout the year and have regular monthly surgical weeks to reach our target number of 120.
More than 1,800 consultations and 450 surgeries were provided during this period.
Nancy Samedi is an 8-year-old girl who has a very severe case of Blount’s disease, a far too common bone growth disease affecting a significant portion of children in Haiti. Nancy had undergone previous surgeries before we took on her case in 2014, favorably correcting her right lower limb. Her other leg has worsened since we last treated her and will be the focus of our efforts this time around.
Darla Revelus is a 9-year-old who was involved in a very severe motor vehicle accident a year-and-a-half ago, when she was hit by a truck on her way to school. Both of her legs were badly broken, but she escaped this ordeal with her life. Darla was first treated at the University Hospital. One of her legs healed properly, but the other one, sadly, did not. Without any other recourse in this healthcare facility, she probably would have gone for a long time before finding possible treatment for her condition if not for this program.
Fletcher Saintil is a 9-year-old boy who suffers, like Medgine, from femur and shinbone deformations affecting both lower limbs, probably from rickets. His condition is more pronounced on the left side, and we plan to perform corrective surgery on this lower limb during the first part of his treatment.