Partners In Health (PIH)

Our mission is to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. By establishing long-term relationships with sister organizations based in settings of poverty, Partners In Health strives to achieve two overarching goals: to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and to serve as an antidote to despair. We draw on the resources of the world's leading medical and academic institutions and on the lived experience of the world's poorest and sickest communities. At its root, our mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When our patients are ill and have no access to care, our team of health professi...
Jan 12, 2012

Build Mirebalais Hospital - Jan. 2012 update

Photo taken by John Chew, courtesy of PIH
Photo taken by John Chew, courtesy of PIH

In Haiti, first phase of construction at Mirebalais Hospital nears completion

For the past 18 months, construction crews have worked tirelessly to build Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital, an impressive 180,000 sq. ft. complex that will soon be home to Haiti’s largest public teaching and referral hospital. Scheduled to open in 2012, the project is the cornerstone of PIH's efforts to help the country rebuild following the devastating 2010 earthquake. At a time when Haiti desperately needs skilled professionals, the facility will provide high-quality education for the next generation of Haitian nurses, medical students, and resident physicians.

Before a massive earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, PIH had been planning to build a new community hospital in Mirebalais, a city just 30 miles north of Port-au-Prince. Then the earthquake struck, leaving most of the health facilities in and around Haiti’s capital in ruins. Responding to an urgent appeal from the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), PIH quickly scaled up its plans.

Just two years after the earthquake, Mirebalais Hospital is only months away from opening its doors to patients seeking outpatient health services. When complete, the 320-bed hospital will accommodate an estimated 500 ambulatory visits each day and require the services of hundreds Haitians employees — becoming the largest single source of employment in the area.

By the close of 2012, PIH will roll out expanded services like maternal and child health, radiology, CT scans, and surgical care. In early- to mid-2013, special services will begin, including neonatal intensive care and expanded surgical operations. In mid-2013, advanced medical and nursing education and training will begin at the hospital, with Haitian students receiving training in comprehensive and innovative care.

Once the hospital is running at full capacity, it will have over 30 outpatient consultation rooms, six operating rooms, and space to host trainings with over 200 participants. It will offer innovative technology — some of which was previously unavailable in Haiti — including digital radiography, a full-body CT scanner, teleconferencing capabilities, solar panels that will fully power the hospital during the day, on-site waste water treatment, and wall-mounted oxygen for over 60 percent of inpatient beds. The hospital is also designed to withstand earthquakes and high-winds from tropical storms. 

The hospital will be operated in partnership with the national government. Over time, financial responsibility for the hospital will gradually transition from PIH to the government, with the government assuming control of most of the facility by 2021. 

Photo taken by Meredith Eves, courtesy of PIH
Photo taken by Meredith Eves, courtesy of PIH
Photo taken by John Chew, courtesy of PIH
Photo taken by John Chew, courtesy of PIH
Jan 12, 2012

Equip Mirebalais Hospital - January 2012 update

With only a few months until Mirebalais Hospital opens, workers strive to complete the entrance to the new hospital. Roughly 500 patients a day will soon find health care through these doors.

Some will come seek life-saving emergency treatment, others will arrive for routine care and check-ups. All will receive the highest-level of care at this state-of-the-art hospital, run in partnership with Haiti's Ministry of Health.

Once the hospital is running at full capacity, it will have over 30 outpatient consultation rooms, six operating rooms, and space to host trainings with over 200 participants. It will offer innovative technology — some of which was previously unavailable in Haiti — including digital radiography, a full-body CT scanner, teleconferencing capabilities, solar panels that will fully power the hospital during the day, on-site waste water treatment, and wall-mounted oxygen for over 60 percent of inpatient beds. The hospital is also designed to withstand earthquakes and high-winds from tropical storms. 

The photos below highlight many of the recent installments of systems and equipment at Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital:

Medical gas pipes being installed
Medical gas pipes being installed
Generators to power the hospital if power is lost
Generators to power the hospital if power is lost
A Haitian electrician caps the ends of wires
A Haitian electrician caps the ends of wires
Construction begins-Waste Water Treatment Plant
Construction begins-Waste Water Treatment Plant
Jan 12, 2012

Haiti Earthquake Recovery - January 2012 update

On January 10, 2012, the Chicago Tribune published the following article, written by Dawn Turner Trice:

Though world stood still, things moving forward in Haiti

This was the email Dr. Evan Lyon sent Jan. 17, 2010, five days after Haiti's devastating earthquake:

drove past the main central park in (Port-au-Prince) where at least 50K people must be sleeping and it was almost silent.

people cooking, talking, some singing and crying.

people are kind, calm, generous to us and others. even with hundreds lying on the ground, open fractures, massive injuries of all kinds.

there are few dead bodies on the street.

stench is everywhere.

the city is changed forever

Thursday is the second anniversary of the earthquake, and Lyon returned to Haiti last week to check on patients he hopes to bring back to this country for care, to help launch a new residency program for Haitian doctors, and to mark the anniversary.

Lyon, 40, is a Harvard-trained physician and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. He's also the medical director of the Right to Health Care Program for the international medical and social services organization Partners in Health.

When he arrived in Port-au-Prince last Friday, he headed to a hospital in Carrefour, the neighborhood that was near the epicenter of the earthquake. He was on his way to meet a 20-year-old woman whose bone cancer had metastasized.

Lyon had been working with the woman's doctors from his office in Chicago since last fall and they had asked him to explain to her why she was no longer a candidate for treatment in the United States, as her condition was terminal.

Although the woman's cancer had nothing to do with the earthquake, she and her mother had been living in a tent since the disaster.

"I'll be checking in with other patients who will be able to come to the States for care," said Lyon. "But unfortunately, this young woman isn't one of them."

On the way to the hospital, he said, the first thing that struck him was how quiet the streets of Port-au-Prince were. And that's a big difference even since September, the last time he was in the capital.

"We drove through the downtown in the middle of the city near the presidential palace and there's a massive refugee camp" around the site, said Lyon. "There are about 15,000 people in that part of town. But things are eerily quiet and it almost felt better when more was happening in the streets and there was more activity."

Tens of thousands of people lost their lives in the earthquake, and about 1.5 million were displaced. About 500,000 still live in temporary housing, according to Partners In Health.

Lyon said that though most of the residents have moved out of the capital and into long-term settlement camps, he fears that some people may not have immediate access to health care or other services.

"There's been more engagement, more work and, in some ways, more progress over the last two years than in years before," he told me. "But it still doesn't come close to meeting the size of the need."

As he rode through the city, he said that though the main roads have been cleared of debris and makeshift tents, none of the buildings housing the ministries of health and interior or the Supreme Court have been rebuilt. The landscape has gaping holes and, for miles, bears little resemblance to the Haiti he remembers back when he first arrived in 1996 as a music teacher.

Much work remains in Haiti, including stemming a cholera epidemic that began in October 2010, and continues with about 600 new cases a day. Lyon has been working with a human rights organization that's investigating the cause of the epidemic, which, as of Dec. 25, had killed at least 7,001 Haitians, according to the Haitian Ministry of Health.

Despite all of this, there are signs of hope.

Lyon said one example is a new residency program that was launched this week at a hospital Partners In Health runs with its Haitian sister organization Zanmi Lasante in St. Marc, about 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

"Of all the work that needs to be done here, this is entirely optimistic," Lyon said.

He said the program will teach Haitian doctors how to be family practice physicians.

As part of the program, Lyon and other physicians will conduct classes over the Internet and travel to Haiti to teach. The University of Chicago also will start a one- to two-year fellowship in which trained doctors will work and teach in Haiti for about six months a year.

"Two years after the complete destruction of the main hospital and medical school, we're making progress, although it never feels fast enough," he said. "Within a year, a new national teaching hospital (built by Partners in Health and Haiti's Ministry of Health) will open. It's a nice way to think about the anniversary. Despite the many challenges ahead, we're moving forward."

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