Supporting the Local Hospital System in Port-au-Prince
April 29, 2010
May is almost here and Real Medicine’s projects in Haiti are moving forward into the second phase of the reconstruction efforts.
We’ve signed an agreement to begin supporting Hôpital Lambert Santé in Pétion-Ville, Port-au-Prince, a 14-bed private facility set in the upscale hillside suburb of the capital. Six months ago the facility was a state-of-the-art clinic that specialized in plastic surgery, focused on serving the elective healthcare needs of this middle to upper class Haitian community.
But with the earthquake, the needs of the community permanently shifted. Most of the public hospitals were destroyed or left inoperable by the disaster. And while there might have been some capacity in Haiti to provide public healthcare before the quake, the sheer devastation to the public health system coupled with the surging needs of 300,000 injured Haitians, vastly overshadowed the government’s ability to intervene on its own.
In contrast to the destruction to the public health sector, private hospitals fared much better during the quake, having usually been designed, built and maintained to a higher standard. Given the shifting needs of their Haitian community, Lambert Santé stepped in and answered the call, opening its doors on January 12th.
The Director of the hospital, Dr. Margaret Degand Dutour, has been busy ever since. While the crush of January is behind her, she continues to perform surgeries, consultations and follow-up care all day into the afternoon and evening, stopping only to drink a cup of espresso or smoke a cigarette before diving back into her tremendous responsibilities. She and her staff of well-trained Haitian medical professionals are on the leading edge of an effort in the private healthcare community to meet the challenges of a broken public health system until that system can be fixed.
The transition has not been easy. Most of these new private/public model hospitals have met with difficulties financing their continued aid of the community, and the international community’s response in bolstering these commitments has been tepid thus far.
Real Medicine has stepped in with an initial commitment to support the primary healthcare component of Lambert Santé’s public health provision. We plan to hire a small staff of newly-trained Haitian medical professionals, including General Practice Physicians and Nurses, to provide a core primary health capacity at the hospital throughout the day. This will ensure the hospital’s ability to continue to provide basic healthcare to the community on a more stable and reliable basis, freeing up the resources of the hospital’s main staff to perform the advanced care services they were trained for. In addition, the structure of the primary health project within an advanced care facility will ensure that patients accessing basic public healthcare at Lambert Santé will also have access to the tertiary care services that the hospital provides, including X-Ray, laboratory testing and general surgery. Finally, Lambert Santé will be able to act as a key referral link for our smaller clinic operations in the community, acting as a “hub” for advanced care. We believe this partnership will be very successful in meeting the holistic healthcare needs of the Haitian community in Port-au-Prince.
Patients aside, the project will also provide much-needed training and supervision for recent medical graduates. The staff will work under the guidance and oversight of Dr. Degand, attaining valuable experience that will empower them to become the next generation of Haitian leaders in healthcare. Real Medicine is exploring the potential to have Lambert Santé approved in the residency process of the local University system to formalize this component of our project.
As with all of its initiatives around the world, Real Medicine works to be flexible to the specific healthcare needs of the community it is serving. The case is no different in Haiti. We’ve seen the need to support hospitals in meeting the large-scale needs of the community and we’ve stepped in, utilizing the same principles for sustainable, best-practice healthcare you will find in any of our projects worldwide.