The Justinian Hospital, the largest public facility in northern Haiti, serves over 700,000 people from Cap Haitien and the surrounding community. Years ago the municipal water system failed, forcing the hospital to rely on its small well and an electric pump that was often idled by power outages. In early 2007, damage to the hospital’s electrical supply limited to well pump to running only when the hospital had enough money to run its diesel generators. Medical staff and patients have lacked water for basic hygiene, and the water they had was often contaminated. Polluted groundwater entered the water distribution system through deteriorated pipes.
Volunteers with Konbit Sante have coordinated support from Global Giving, the United Nations, and Rotary International to improve the water system. The first construction project focused on eliminating a major source of contamination, a deteriorated pipe from the well to the storage tank that passed through a waste pile. In 2006, a team of local workers installed a seamless plastic pipe, encased in concrete. The type of pipe was not readily available in Haiti, so Konbit Sante shipped it along with medical supplies in a container.
Work in the summer of 2008 focused on maximizing the output of the existing well. Volunteers and hospital staff installed a new electrical service for the existing well. The improvements included a backup power supply and equipment that allowed the pump to run on generator and the municipal power supply. Hospital staff were very pleased with the improved supply, but the volume was still inadequate for all the various needs.
In September 2008, a local contractor installed a new well. Konbit Sante hired a contractor to build the supporting well house and completed the water supply in 2009.
The estimated yield was 8 gallons per minute, which tripled the water supply; however, the water was contaminated with bacteria and nitrates. Konbit Sante installed a temporary chlorine disinfection system and is evaluating longer term solutions.
Since the well installation, Konbit Sante has continued to work with the hospital to improve its water supply. We have worked with the local plumber to install plastic piping and valves to repair leaks in the distribution system.
In 2010, we used funds provided by Global Giving donors to purchase 10 pedal-activated stainless steel sinks. These sinks automatically shut off to minimize water waste and allow staff to wash their hands without touching faucets. This is key for improving hygiene and reducing infectious disease.
Thank you for your support. Your donations have improved the water supply and quality at the largest hospital in northern Haiti. We continue our work to improve the health system in Cap Haitien, having dedicated considerable resources in 2011 to combating cholera.
The water project that Global Giving donors have supported has helped the Justinian Hospital respond to the current crisis in Haiti. The hospital was spared much physical damage, being distant from the earthquake epicenter. This allowed it to function as a trauma center. Trucks, cars, and helicopters have transported patients to the hospital. They are fortunate to have an adequate water supply at a time when so many items (e.g., sutures, x-ray film, medications) are in short supply. Our organization is working on several fronts to address these other shortages.
Our approach has been to address long term needs in a sustainable fashion. Our commitment and relationships in Haiti have led the UN to turn to us to help coordinate medical care in the northern part of the country. These are difficult times, made more so by the diversion of funds from needs in Cap Haitien and other cities to Port au Prince. The needs of the capital are extraordinary, but so too are the needs in the rest of the country as it responds to the disaster.
Volunteers with Konbit Sante and hospital staff completed construction of the new well in 2009. The new well increased the hospital water supply by approximately six times, bringing it closer to what is needed by a 250-bed hospital.
The team returned in October 2009 to adjust the disinfection system and to test the water quality. Preliminary water tests found the water was contaminated with nitrates. Tests in October confirmed the nitrate concentration exceeded 40 mg/l, about four times the acceptable level. Nitrates are dangerous for infants and pregnant mothers, but are fine for children and adults. Since most of the water is used for sanitation and personal hygiene, and very little water is consumed, the hospital can use the water for its primary needs and purchase water for drinking.
We explored the option of using the original well as a dedicated drinking water supply because it is free of nitrates and bacteria. The hospital administration decided against it. They thought there were viable alternatives for drinking water.
We started the installation of new piping to reduce the water loss through leaks. We are threading new plastic pipe through the existing galvanized pipe. This protects the plastic and eliminates both leaking connections and sources of contamination. Our next steps will focus on repairing the distribution system and improving the plumbing in the buildings.
We are also exploring sanitation solutions that will reduce the nitrates in the ground water. This will be a complex problem due to the urban setting. The hospital administration is resistant to using composting toilets, but until there is a municipal treatment system, this represents one of the better options.
Thank you for your continued support. Your donations have improved the water supply and quality at the largest hospital in northern Haiti.
In January and March 2009, volunteers worked with hospital staff to complete the installation of the new water well and disinfection system. The well increased the water supply to the hospital by six times. Initial water quality tests indicate that the water is hard (similar to the existing well), and contaminated with high levels of nitrates. The nitrates are probably from the wastewater cesspools located on the hospital grounds. The water can be used for utility purposes, which constitute the greatest demand, but it can not be used as drinking water by infants. Nitrates can interfere with the oxygen carrying capacity of blood in babies. The current plan is to install two distribution systems, one for drinking water and one for utility water.