We Remember

(by Jim Morgan — 1-12-2018)

Nou Sonje.  We remember.

Eight years ago today, an earthquake that changed so many of our lives befell Haiti.

We remember that darkest of hours, as friends and family, most of whom we had never met nor would have ever known, suffered or perished in the immediate and continued aftermath.

But the family of mankind persisted and rose to the occasion.

I remember that support, as the world sent a message of solidarity.  Along with so many others who helped care for the wounded and broken in the quake’s immediate aftermath, I remember experiencing an inexplicable, but very definite collective soul.  That solidarity strengthened us all, and that process giving inversion, where the giver becomes the receiver and the receiver becomes the giver of even more and greater good.

A collective soul exists, I am convinced.

The presence of a collective soul can’t be measured with a manometer like one uses to check blood pressure. Rather the soul’s essence needs to be felt, just as the feel of the quality of a pulse in a patient’s wrist can add valuable information to a doctor.   When its essence is actively appreciated, the collective soul fortifies, acting as an energizing force in times of strife.

The collective soul also illuminates. It shines light on our interconnectedness, on our need for community. On concepts like integrity, love and beauty.

The great thing about the collective soul is it doesn’t go away.  Ever.  It was present in Haiti eight years ago after the buildings fell, and it’s present today providing us with reassurance that concepts like compassion for our fellow man will continue to strengthen us all.

So let’s remember our friends who are gone. But so too let’s let our collective soul strengthen our own, and our world’s community.

Jim

1-12-18

Delivering water, 2010

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Message from Jim

It has surely been another successful year for all of us involved with Lamp for Haiti.  Our continued hope is that you consider yourself as an integral part of that success.

Lamp for Haiti is about addressing healthcare as a means to build community. It’s no secret that when one feels healthy, spirits are lifted, work gets done, families are fed.  Our work with and for the marginalized poor, is necessary.  It is a work born out of an epiphany of sorts, an eye opening experience that recognizes the huge economic gradient that exists between our country and our neighbors 90 miles off of Florida. It is a work that takes that recognition of existing despair and channels it enthusiastically and shines a lamp.

As we approach our ten year anniversary, all of us can take pride in what together we’ve accomplished from those early days when we provided care in alleys and empty buildings. Today our professional primary and urgent care health center sees more than 1,000 patients each month. We have established a women’s health program. We provide nutrition to malnourished children. We are utilizing an electronic health record that is providing us with hard data, data that not only is helpful for tracking patient trends, but also in staying transparent to oversight organizations and to donors.

Our courageous staff has weathered hurricanes and earthquakes, civil unrest and political turmoil, and continues to provide care with a smile. They can do so because of your continued support, and your continuing confidence in this project.

Our very best to you and your families this holiday season. Stay warm. Thanks again for helping us to keep the Lamp shining bright.

Jim

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The Story of Sylvia Blanc

Sometimes it can be difficult to explain the value of the Lamp’s work.  We can say, for example, that our doctors see 60 patients per day, 16,000 per year.  But the statistics don’t reveal the real lives, nor the real activities of the doctors with regards to each patient.  The following letter was written by the Lamp’s In-Country Medical Director, Dr. Barrère Hyppolite. It is an inspiration to us all.

 

Hello guys,

This is a success story about what we do daily in the clinic of LAMP for Haiti. It’s about the caring for a woman named Sylvia Blanc.

Sylvia Blanc is 37 years old, married, a teacher. She has 3 children and lives in the area of Cité Soleil. One day this woman came to the clinic; she had a history of low fever, pain in her chest that made her respiration painful and on some occasions, coughing and discomfort. She had already visited another health center for these symptoms but she was not satisfied with the care of this health center because she continued to suffer and this interfered with her daily work as a teacher. In this health center they did some exams for Tuberculosis and the results were negative. She received some advice from friends who recommended that she visit our clinic in Bois 9. She was desperate when she came to the clinic.

She arrived with a chest X-ray that mentioned a probable problem in the lungs, but the x-ray image was not so convincing. After her clinical examination, we note no fever and nothing special in the lungs and she continues to complain about her thoracic pain. We do some additional exams including an EKG. The EKG result gives the suspicion of a heart problem named pericarditis. Some drugs are prescribed, and after some real discussion with her, we recommend an echocardiography for her heart to have a better idea. She decides to do this because she really wants an answer for her disease. She goes to a private clinic to do this and comes back with the exam results. The exam was negative.

So I decide to start again with the process of the clinical exam and to deepen my searches. With sustained attention I detect a problem in her right lung and decide to recommend a new chest X-ray. This X-ray reveals that there is something abnormal in her right lung, seeming to be a collection of liquid. I decide to send her do a sputum exam for tuberculosis in CHAPI, another health center in Cité Soleil and schedule with her a thoracentesis, a procedure which allows me to withdraw some liquid from the lungs, a procedure perfectly controlled and mastered. When she returns to the clinic she has brought the results of the sputum test: all of the 3 specimens were negative for the evidence of Tuberculosis.

D-day, I do the thoracentesis and withdraw nearly 360 ml of liquid from her right lung. She takes the specimens to the laboratory. The specimen will be studied for tuberculosis and also for cancer. She experiences some relief of her symptoms but continues to have bad feelings about her health. Meanwhile, I have to say, every time she feels something bad she takes her phone and calls me to get my impression and also to know if she must come to the clinic to get a clinical exam from me.

The results from the laboratory come and a particular result stands out: in the liquid there are some cells named lymphocytes present in high levels. These cells are cells of the human immune system and are present in the defense of the organism against some diseases like Cancers but also Tuberculosis. Testing of the sample for Cancer will take nearly one month. However, I still suspect Tuberculosis and this suspicion will lead to the final therapeutic for this woman who is determined to find a solution together with LAMP. Thanks to an advanced workshop on Tuberculosis that I attended at THE RUTGERS GLOBAL TUBERCULOSIS INSTITUTE in New Jersey, with the support of my organization LAMP for Haiti, I have been made aware of a special laboratory test named Gene Expert that can increase the accuracy of Tuberculosis diagnosis, specially a Tuberculosis that can be negative on routine examination of sputum. Not every doctor in Haiti knows this test! Also, only two centers in Haiti have this capacity to do this test: GHESKIO Centers and Zanmi La Sante Center (Partners In Health). I discuss with her the necessity to go to GHESKIO in order to pursue this test. She accepts and I make a complete referral for her to GHESKIO.

After that I did not see her for some time. To my big surprise, during a weekday she then called me to let me know what was going on with her. She began with these words: “Excuse me, Dr. Hyppolite, to disturb you, but you know you are my doctor and I have to inform you about my actual clinical situation. They have put me, at GHESKIO, on anti-Tuberculosis drugs. They have done some tests for me and after these tests they decided to put me on these drugs.” Wow!! Tuberculosis, this big killer was there and it has nearly taken the life of this brave woman and made 3 children orphans very early without their mother!! This was so amazing and I was so proud to have pursued the steps needed in this case. I was also so pleased about the confidence that this woman showed in us and her commitment to her own health. Rather than despair, every time she needed information she called or came to the clinic and we were always responsive to her case and listened carefully.

Now she has completed the 6 month treatment of Tuberculosis (the last test done for her revealed no signs of the disease). And she has returned smiling to her job with this feeling: she has found a great answer about something considered like a curse. She also feels safer because with the treatment she will not spread this contagious disease to her family — her husband and her children – and also her colleagues. She had felt guilty and the treatment gives her the power to smile again, to be more confident in life and to fight for her family. Before the treatment she had lost some pounds but now she eats normally and has found a great appetite. With this big change in her life, she asked me this question: are you a generalist? I answered that I am an internist. And she told me, for her husband and her, I was the greatest doctor they have encountered! It was an honor for me, but I told her that I have only followed the necessary clinical steps and made a good choice in wanting deeply also an answer to her problems. I also thanked her for her patience, for her understanding about the steps necessary to make a clinical decision. Without her also this final diagnosis would not have been possible.

During her treatment, she unfortunately also developed diabetes. She has decided for this she prefers LAMP to evaluate her diabetes and help her to control it. She was very satisfied with the time dedicated by our team to explain her disease and our therapeutic approach to help her. Now she deals with diabetes and she relies on LAMP to walk with her in this great fight, and we give her this assurance that LAMP will be there for her and that our primary priority is to give our best for her and to give her the hope for a good future for her family and also herself.

This a story about the trust of a woman, who felt hopeless in the beginning, fearful of a dark future because of an unknown disease but regaining some confidence in life, believing again that something is possible, giving a great hope to her family, a husband and three children. But also this a story about the passion for health care conveyed by the spirit of LAMP for Haiti: We want to make more and something better for our brothers and sisters in Cité Soleil who are humans like us and who want to build a safe future pursuing dreams with a strong health.

All the best
Barrère Hyppolite, MD

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The words mean “Bwa Nef says Thank You!”

Art sale flyer -- Nov 7 at Commonwealth Club, MontclairThe Second Annual Lamp reception was an inspiring, unprecedented event for the Lamp.  The beauty of Haitian art and culture was the focal point, and it brought out the best in everyone who attended.  Haiti still matters, in these hearts!

The featured photo is of a piece of Haitian metalwork, made by an artist in Bwa Nef itself.  It is similar to many of the pieces of art that were sold at the reception, but with some added words.  The words mean, “Bwa Nef says Thank You!”

Bwa Nef is the community in which Lamp’s health center is situated.  With under 3% of funds going to administration this year, it’s not an exaggeration to say your gifts will go directly to those that need them most.   A success in Montclair is a success in Bwa Nef!

Have a marvelous holiday season and keep Haiti in your heart!

HenryThe words mean “Bwa Nef says Thank You!”
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Relationships

By Dr James Morgan, Founder

This fundamental concept is a key to successful family life, work, friendships, community.  In a very real sense, relationships embody dialogue.  Of course any meaningful conversation requires active listening. Paying attention to body language, as well as verbiage. (As I write this I rejoice in my own children’s exodus from their teen years!)

Understanding these relationships is a vital and ongoing process for us at Lamp this year as we continue to grow and to fulfill our mission of working  with and for the people of Haiti to improve the lives of some of the most marginalized persons there.

At Lamp for Haiti, we are continually trying to improve that dialogue, and we are seeing positive results.  For example, we are delighted to announce this past quarter we have added two new key personnel — Dr Sévere and Mr Dénold Joseph.  Their clinical skills and personal demeanor allow us to provide quality, cost effective care.

EMR training 2014

A training workshop on the electronic medical records system (Nick Sahagian standing)

Dr Severe at the clinic

Dr Severe at the clinic, May 2014

Partnering with other organizations, filling in gaps when they exist, sharing resources — these are all continuations of the theme of dialogue.  Presently we have working relationships with several other major organizations working in Haiti, including groups like AmeriCares, Partners in Health (PIH), and the St Luke’s Foundation in Tabarre.  Boston native Nick Sahagian is a volunteer intern who has jumped in with both feet to assist us in launching our electronic records system (see www.OpenMRS.org for more on this fascinating PIH project).  Midwives for Haiti is assisting us in our Women’s Health Program.  SAKALA, a community based organization in Cité Soleil focused on youth, was begun by Lamp Board Member Daniel Tillias.  We move ahead to strengthen our official relationship with the Haitian Ministry of Health.

And so as we move into summer, let’s take a moment to ponder our own relationships with one another, and with our friends and colleagues in Haiti. Let’s think about the genuine solidarity that Lamp for Haiti represents, manifest by the ongoing effort to strengthen and focus that conversation. It is a conversation not always comprised of words, but deeply engaged in listening and in action. Let’s remember the work that lies ahead and see it as another challenge, somewhat daunting, but never insurmountable.

My very best to you and to your families this summer. And of course thank you again for all your many kindnesses and financial support.

 

HenryRelationships
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Why Support the Lamp?

By Richard Evans, board member

On a global basis, hundreds of organizations work to bring health care to millions of persons living in under-served communities; and, with few exceptions each of these organizations make productive use of charitable contributions. In short, there is no lack of good options for giving.  When so many communities and organizations can benefit from your giving, why should you consider giving to LAMP?

We offer continuity of care in a community that otherwise would not be served:  LAMP for Haiti is the only medical clinic in Bwa Nèf, a neighborhood of perhaps 15,000 persons, and has been a consistent part of the neighborhood since 2006. A parent or guardian bringing a child or loved one to LAMP can reasonably expect to see the same health care providers each time – even if visits are months or even years apart

We operate to a Western standard of medical practice:   LAMP’s clinical standards are no different than those of any fully accredited physician’s office operating in the United States. We have a qualified clinical laboratory on-site, a 12-lead digital EKG, an electronic medical record system, and soon, digital radiography. These technologies enable on-site staff to handle a majority of cases independently, and allow off-site physicians to consult and review as necessary                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           (continued below)

We create jobs and develop careers for Haitians, in Haiti: With the occasional exception of visiting specialists, all of our care is delivered by Haitian physicians and nurses. We invest in the continuing medical education of our medical staff in an effort to continuously improve the care we deliver, with the added benefit of expanding career options for LAMP employees

We invest in education and prevention:  Because we are a consistent neighborhood presence, we are able to identify and address common underlying causes of the cases we treat. For example, we have a trained midwife that searches for and educates expectant and new mothers, and provides for the nutritional needs of infants. We operate ‘well-clinics’ at local soccer fields where kids who are not in school and otherwise would not see a physician can receive care. And we built, and financed the maintenance of, shower and toilet facilities – the only plumbing in our neighborhood

We make efficient use of resources entrusted to us:  Under some of the most difficult operating conditions in our hemisphere, LAMP for Haiti delivers a Western standard of medical care to a community that would otherwise receive no care, at a cash cost per patient of roughly $20 – less than the average patient’s co-payment for a visit to a US physician

HenryWhy Support the Lamp?
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Lamp at Midwives for Haiti conference

[Picture: Midwives for Haiti graduate Flaure Alcius presents the Lamp’s women’s health program; Dr Hyppolite in foreground]

By In-Country Medical Director Barrère Hyppolite MD

The recent Midwives for Haiti conference was a great opportunity to build relationships with other NGOs, and especially Midwives for Haiti, who work in this field of maternity care.  It has given us opportunity to know each other and possibly to create a network in the future. With its  in-depth midwife training program Midwives for Haiti is working hand in hand with the Ministry of Health and other partners to have a greater impact on maternal and infant health in Haiti, which has the highest rates of child and maternal mortality in the Caribbean.  Also, to allow every woman in this land to be assisted in their pregnancy and assure them a good outcome.   It’s a huge task: to gain the confidence of the pregnant patients and convince them to be followed by a qualified person in the field for the happiness of the mother and also for the baby.  This is especially important in remote areas, where a hospital may be many hours away.

We believe also, at LAMP, that we have a great mission to fulfill in the field of the maternity care.   In the area where we work, in Cité Soleil, there is a lot of work to do: the education of the pregnant patients, the medical care throughout pregnancy, the response to complications and concurrent illnesses.  We also believe that we must build up strong relationships with people of the area through the action of community health workers.  A community health worker program is our plan for the future.

It is very satisfying to contribute to the decrease of child and maternal morbidity through prevention and treatment, and keep the smile on the face of each mother who wants to give birth; to give, too, a great push to the index of development of our country Haiti.

HenryLamp at Midwives for Haiti conference
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LAMP: a symbol of life for the people of Cité Soleil

By Barrère Hyppolite, In-Country Medical Director for the Lamp

 

Probably If I tell you that some people come as early as 1:00 a.m. to have the chance to be consulted by a doctor in our clinic you will doubt me.  But personally we know, the Haitian local staff with  the members of the board of LAMP.  And it is certainly not only the free services that we provide that gives us our reputation.  It’s because we feel that the patient deserves the best care.  We want to be included in their life, walk beside them and help them build something stronger for their future and for their children.  People love it when they are given respect, when they are respected for what they bring to society.  They want to be part of society, they don’t want to be marginalized.  And because the Lamp has considered this part of their life, they want the Lamp to continue and to enlarge its services in the community: the Lamp is their symbol.  So it is not a surprise to see people coming at 1 a.m. so that they can get a place and wait until 6 a.m. to get a ticket in order to be one of the people that will be seen by our staff.

Working here is also a chance for us, a great opportunity to help our brothers and sisters of this big slum to have a better life and to facilitate a new tomorrow, saying I feel better, both in my physical health and in my mind.

 

HenryLAMP: a symbol of life for the people of Cité Soleil
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Conversation with Sandra Stanic

In 2011, the Lamp installed a Sunspring water purification system at Cardinal Stephinac’s Children’s Center, an orphanage on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince that provides a home for around 50 children.  The orphanage is a project of Croatian Relief Services, a charity based in New Jersey.  Here, Dr Morgan talks with Sandra Stanic, the director of the orphanage, about the impact of the water system.

HenryConversation with Sandra Stanic
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Jim’s article published in Newark’s Star-Ledger

A version of Jim’s article “Why Haiti (still) Matters” was published in the Newark area Star-Ledger, January 27 issue.   Jim Morgan (below) is the co-founder of the Lamp for Haiti.  January 12th was the third anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.  The media has highlighted the slow and uneven use of international aid dollars since then, but Jim is not interested in submitting to pessimism.

Read it here: http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2013/01/why_nj_should_care_about_haiti.html.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HenryJim’s article published in Newark’s Star-Ledger
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