It sometimes seems as though Haiti must suffer through each disaster that visits the region but in this case there is cause for celebration not sorrow. The impact of Hurricane Irma on Haiti was much less than feared. The north of Haiti experienced some violent winds but in the Port-au-Prince area, where the Lamp for Haiti Health Center is located, there was no significant damage. The Health Center was closed for a day to allow staff to prepare for the coming storm but in the end those precautions were — happily — unnecessary. The day after the hurricane passed, Friday, September 8th, the Health Center welcomed patients as always.
As reported last year, Abington Hospital near Philadelphia contributed an ultrasound unit to the Lamp. We can now report, with utmost pleasure, that the ultrasound machine has been in full use for many months. Transporting the unit to Haiti was far from an easy task. Shipping it would have incurred a tremendous customs fee, so it was dismantled and carried over, piece by piece, in personal baggage. Happily enough, we were also able to re-assemble it on the other side! While waiting for all of the pieces to arrive, our staff took courses on advanced imaging interpretation and were able to put the unit to use the same day that it was assembled. We had often asked clients at the women’s health clinic about their satisfaction with our services and the word had always come back loud and clear: please add ultrasound! Well, the satisfaction meter has taken a terrific swing upwards. The ultrasound adds a very substantial capacity to improve care for expectant mothers and many other patients, male and female. A key tool has been added to the Lamp’s diagnostic toolbox.
Lamp founder Dr. James Morgan and his wife Dr. Ellen Cunningham put out the word that the Lamp’s Spring Campaign is underway. The campaign highlights the fact that 45% of patients at the Lamp’s Health Center in Cite Soleil, Haiti, are children. To learn more about the campaign, click here!
The Lamp for Haiti Health Center is located in a desperately poor neighborhood called Bwa Nef, a neighborhood within the enormous slum area called Cité Soleil (City of the Sun). People of this neighborhood are extremely appreciative of the services we provide but we know that hundreds of thousands of persons, in the neighborhoods surrounding the health center, are also in need of medical care. Any one of them could come to our health center and receive care, but they may not know about this possibility. Also, travel within Cité Soleil is dangerous, even for its residents. Rival gangs control the various neighborhoods. The Lamp’s mobile clinic program, therefore, answers (a very small part) of the tremendous need that surrounds us.
Last week the Lamp held a mobile clinic at a community organization that serves the nearby areas of Cité Lumière, and Twa Bebe (City of Light, and Three Babies). This organization, called Sakala, is a close partner of the Lamp; we have held several mobile clinics at its facilities. Three additional doctors were engaged for the day, including two pediatricians, and several support staff. It was a tiring and gratifying day, with over 230 people receiving consultations, lab tests and medicine.
Now, the Lamp is planning to expand its mobile clinic program. Our goal is to provide one mobile clinic per month, from a previous level of four per year. Happily enough, we have been given strong encouragement from the new Mayor of Cité Soleil, who has agreed to facilitate these mobile clinics in various locations throughout Cité Soleil. We hope that this collaboration will be a very fruitful one. The expansion will raise many practical difficulties for us, but the need is very great and we don’t wish to look the other way when our neighbors are suffering! This program is something that we can offer to the community at large and we want to take up that challenge!
adminMobile Clinic sees 230 people in a Single Day
For those readers who may not know the details, The Lamp Foundation (Lamp for Haiti) operates a full service, permanent, health center in Cité Soleil, which is a huge shantytown on the edge of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It is a primary and urgent care center which boasts an all-Haitian staff of 10, including two doctors. All who come are received! Patients receive a consultation with a doctor, lab tests, and medicine. Special services include a women’s clinic (which recently received an ultrasound machine!), a child nutrition program, EKG and X-ray.
Your donation will go directly to the clinic. It is a critical life-affirming institution in a desperately poor community.
Happy Giving Day(s)!
Note, by the way, that Facebook users have a special way to support the Lamp this season. Starting November 29th, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match donations to any Facebook fundraiser up to $1000, and Facebook is waiving all fees. The Gates Foundation match stays into effect until December 31 but only until their contribution (1M) runs out, so if you are willing to take the next step, consider starting one now! All donations can be doubled!
(Select The Lamp Foundation in Philadelphia, PA as your charity).
The Lamp is thrilled to announce that we have received a portable ultrasound unit, donated from Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health (just north of Philadelphia, PA). An ultrasound unit has been at the top of our priority needs list for the women’s clinic for some time now so it is a tremendous and timely contribution on the part of Abington Hospital! In addition to its ability to monitor fetal health, an ultrasound device is able to diagnose a range of other health conditions; it will be a terrific asset to the clinic as a whole.
The Lamp will ensure that the unit will continue to do productive work for a long time to come!
Pictured (left to right) are: Sabrina Harris (Senior Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Jefferson), Henry Reimer (Lamp ED), Jacqui Silverman, BSN , Pam Hawes (Lamp Treasurer), Bethany Perry, MD (Medical Director of the OB/GYN Clinic, Abington Hospital), Barbara Schneider, RN, and James Morgan MD (Lamp Founder and Chair of the Board)
Huge thanks to Abington Hospital for this vital contribution and special thanks to Jacqui Silverman for initiating this very valuable connection between the Lamp and Abington Hospital.
Flooding in Cite Soleil; neighborhood just adjacent to Lamp clinic
LES CAYES, HAITI – OCTOBER 14: A girl stands in her destroyed house on October 14, 2016 in a small village near Les Cayes, Haiti. Some regions are still cut off from the rest of the country. In some cities 80 per cent of the houses are destroyed or damaged. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Oct. 19, 2016 Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti two weeks ago, but the damage that it caused will take years to undo. Right now, more than 175,000 people are without a home, and the UN estimates that at least 1.4 million people are in urgent need of clean water, food and medicine. The southern edge of Haiti was worst hit, but the destruction was very widely spread. Friends living in the mountains, 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince, report a total destruction of crops, huge livestock deaths and hundreds of homes, schools and churches destroyed. In the south, massive relief operations by the UN and other large agencies are underway, but the need is very great.
In Cité Soleil, where the Lamp clinic is located, the damage caused by the storm itself was multiplied many times over by what took place next. Cité Soleil is a flat piece of land on the edge of the ocean, perhaps a foot above sea level. The storm surge caused the sea level to rise, flooding large portions of Cité Soleil with up to 3 feet of water (photo above). Open canals passing through Cité Soleil carry the sewage of all of Port-au-Prince to the ocean, so the water that has flooded all of these homes is deadly. We anticipate a great rise in bacterial infections in the days ahead; we hope that a major cholera outbreak will not occur but are making preparations for this far-from-unlikely eventuality. Smaller cholera outbreaks are already occurring throughout the South.
In an earlier bulletin (“Jim’s Message” on the home page) we mentioned that our clinic was spared any damage. For some reason – perhaps the presence of nearby sewage canals that channeled the storm surge further inland – the area immediately next to the clinic did not flood. It is a mystery and a great blessing. We mentioned, too, that the safety of staff families was uncertain. Happily, this fear has also resolved itself in a positive way. The roof of our driver’s home was torn off but his family is safe and are living at a neighbor’s home. The home of a former nurse of the Lamp was completely destroyed but she too is safe. In that portion of the southern arm of Haiti (called Nippes) the destruction was extreme; virtually every home is damaged or destroyed. All crops and livestock have been lost, and many wells and other water sources contaminated by the storm surge.
At least 500 people were killed during the storm itself, but it will be a desperate year for many, many people. The rainy season is nearly over; there will be no more crops planted this year. The storm toll will very certainly rise in the months to come. As always, then, keep Haiti in your heart. Please give generously — to the Lamp or any other reputable organization that is making a difference. Remember, as the Lamp byline says: we are one human family.
Lamp nurses: Ms Saillant, Ms Astrude and Ms Saint-Fleur
The Lamp “campus” in Bwa Nèf, Cité Soleil has come a long way since 2008, when we first moved to our current location. The first Lamp clinic was established in three small residential buildings in the middle of a maze of tiny cement block and corrugated tin houses. Now the clinic boasts a new two-room building (for women’s clinic and x-ray), a public toilet, two covered seating areas, various store-rooms and a surrounding wall. Those three original buildings, however, remain the core of the clinic – they house the primary exam rooms, the lab and now, the pharmacy.
The pharmacy you see pictured was once a leaky tin-roofed house, where we originally conducted initial triage and public education sessions. The building has been expanded and the tin roof replaced with concrete. Tile floors and new cupboards complete the picture.
The pharmacy represents something of the philosophy of Lamp itself: starting with local resources and gradually, organically, building strengths in response to local needs.
The cement roof, by the way, is already showing its value. Hurricane Matthew did not strike Port-au-Prince directly, as it passed this week, but even relatively high winds and rain can cause dramatic damage to flimsy tin roofs. Although our clinic was spared any damage, we know that thousands of homes have been destroyed in the worst hit areas. Please keep Haiti in your thoughts!
Tremendous news arrived for all Haitians last week, and especially those of modest means. A massive hospital strike that had gone on since March of this year was finally resolved. Physicians, medical residents, and nurses had been on strike to protest low wages, poor working conditions, and inadequate funding for public hospitals. The strike had extended to more than a dozen hospitals, including all of the largest ones. Only a few accepted any patients at all during this very long period.
Medical residents who were earning approximately $120 per month now hope to receive as much as $460. Hospitals that had been functioning with faulty equipment and without basics such as anesthetics and even water have been assured that these conditions will be improved. For the ordinary person, however, the key fact is that the doors are open.
Nonprofits in Haiti are sometimes criticized for their fragmented services, for failing to integrate with the public health system. This criticism is not without validity and the Lamp for Haiti has always sought to collaborate as closely as it can with the Ministry of Health. In the case of this strike, however, nonprofits like the Lamp were the only option for the poor. The demand for health care has always been intense but the level of need during the strike was heart-breaking. We are affirmed in the desperate need for our services, but we can only celebrate the re-opening of these critical institutions.
Photo: Miami Herald. Emergency room at General Hospital. To read the full Herald article click here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article99382447.html