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.
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