Your support of Partners In Health / Zanmi Lasante allows us to sustain our work of fortifying Haiit's health care sysem. Post 2010 earthquake, PIH built a 300-bed teaching hospital in Mirebalais. University Hospital continues to improve, providing patients more sophisticated treatments, training more future medical professionals, and saving more lives. We're thrilled to share this news from the hospital:
Inside a whitewashed room the size of a generous walk-in closet, three Partners In Health laboratory technicians and a pathologist meticulously slice tissue samples and embed them in paraffin. They are the first employees to christen the new pathology section in the Mirebalais Regional Reference Laboratory.
To outside observers, their work may seem tedious. But to cancer patients, it’s lifesaving.
The paraffin cassettes are no larger than a stick of gum and travel easily to Boston, where volunteer pathologists analyze them and send their diagnoses to PIH oncology staff at the University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti. Before the pathology section opened in October, patients waited 90 days for a diagnosis. Now, they get one in 20.
“It’s a paradigm shift having pathology services outside of Port-au-Prince and, soon, being able to do all processing of biopsies onsite,” says PIH’s director of laboratory services.
Patients aren’t the only ones benefitting from the new lab; staff with Zanmi Lasante, as PIH is known in Haiti, have gained specialized skills and learned to use state-of-the-art technology.
“I love the new intellectual challenge,” says Myrléne, who used to work as a general lab tech in PIH’s clinic in Boucan Carré. Now, she takes pride in her promotion to histopathology technician.
Opening the pathology section first was essential given the number of oncology-related biopsies University Hospital surgeons perform. There were almost 2,000 last year alone, most of them for breast cancer.
Biopsies used to go directly to PIH’s partner institutions, including Brigham & Women’s Hospital, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Now, instead of traveling 1,600 miles from Mirebalais to Boston, tissue samples are walked 100 yards across campus from University Hospital to the regional reference laboratory.
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