Health
 Haiti
Project #4583

Haiti Rehabilitation Centre

by Hope Health Action
Vetted

Disability rehabilitation isn't just about treating the physical conditions. Patients face a totally different life with huge new challenges. In Haiti, these challenges are enournous with many having to face them with no support.

It is well known amoung those who work in disability rehabilitation, that after sustaining a high spinal cord Injury, including impairment of the upper limbs, work is usually limited office/computer work as other physical labor is no longer possible. In Haiti, this puts our patients into an even more difficult situation, as this kind of work is mostly limited to people who have a good level of education.


During their time at our rehabilitation unit, we teach patients basic IT skills, in order for them to then later use these in any kind of business when they move back home.


Last week we had a volunteer group from the US visit us for two days. One of them was an IT specialist that took two days to teach one of our tetraplegic patients how to use a laptop. Basic Microsoft Office skills and some music programs were his priority. When he returns home, he wants to use the laptop he’s been given to build up a copy and printing business.


One of his greatest passions has always been music, a very big part of Haitian culture. He loves to sing and now knows how to compose songs on his new laptop. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll be one of Haiti’s great artists?

Your support allows us to deliver the level of rehabiliation where patients eventually go home with new life ahead of them. Thank you.

Links:

Eddy - paraplegic patient
Eddy - paraplegic patient

Partnership working in Haiti is critical to development and improvement in health care provision. We have always tried to work with both local and international partners and we've seen amazing success through this approach. However when working in disability rehabilitation some situations highlight the fact that rehab care has only been practiced in Haiti for a few years and expert knowledge in this field is scarce.

A recent example of this is when Eddy, a long term paraplegic patient at our rehab unit, broke his leg while trying to exercise. We took Eddy to Milot, another hospital in the north, to see their orthopaedic team and have an x-ray (something not yet possible at our hospital). Paraplegic patients can't be treated with the same techniques as able bodied people due to the significant risk of developing new pressure sores when in a cast. But Eddy returned to our unit with in a full leg cast from hip to toe - not a suitable solution for him.

This was not due to laziness of negligence, but a symptom of the lack of knowledge about this type of specialist care in Haiti. It highlights how important the unit you have supported is to disabled people all over Haiti who come to our hospital to receive expert treatment and rehabilitation. It is also vital that specialist knowledge continues to be shared across all local partners to improve the standard of care across the country.

After further consultation on Eddy's case, the decision was made to remove the cast and treat his leg using a different type of brace. His healing will be monitored with a follow-up x-ray and our staff will provide some training for the medical team at Milot so they are better equipped to handle similar cases in the future. Partnership working in action!

Thank you for supporting our project.

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Child in adapted wheelchair
Child in adapted wheelchair

Getting wheelchairs to Haiti is always a challenge. Most chairs available in developed countries are not very suitable for a country with plenty of bad roads, heat, humidity, dirt and rain. So we partner with the Walkabout Foundation, who has been sending wheelchairs to Haiti since the earthquake in 2010. They construct chairs that are more adapted to the needs of wheelchairs in a country like Haiti. They are a real blessing to us at the Rehab Unit but more importantly the patients who gain new independance and mobility from these special chairs.

For the first time now, we are receiving a shipment of 200 wheelchairs directly into Cap-Haitien, only 30 minutes from the hospital! This is very exciting for us as we have always had to get our chairs in Port-au-Prince, a long drive and expensive journey to get the few chairs we usually received, up to the North.

The need for wheelchairs is high, especially at our clinic as we are the only rehab facility in the North of Haiti. We have people coming to see us from all over the Cap-Haitien region. As soon as the the chairs arrive at our hospital, we will be calling our waiting list of patients to come and finally pick up their much needed wheelchair. We cannot wait to see a lot of smiling, happy faces! 

When you support the Rehab facility, you are not only providing specialist medical care but a long term committment to improve the lives of the people we see. The wheelchairs are a key tool in rebuilding lives but, as you've read about in pther reports, our work spans all parts of the patients lives from housing to jobs and beyond. Thank you for being part of this amazing project.

Unloading the container
Unloading the container

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Dieudonne in his new house
Dieudonne in his new house

Discharging people with a spinal cord injury who do not have family is always a challenge. Over the past few years, we have been trying to find a good solution for these patients staying at our rehabilitation unit. We created a transition home outside of our volunteer village and had three patients move in there. The transition home was equipped with the basic needs of a Haitian house.

Now, a little over a year later, they have finally found their own homes and were able to move out. They got some financial help to get the basic needs for their new houses, a bed, mosquito net and a solar lamp. We were also able to help them with a little start up business, so they can now continue caring for themselves and their families.

It is always strange to let people go after they have stayed with us for such a long time. And one never really knows, if the plans that were made are actually going to work out.

I went to visit Dieudonne last week. The little house he lives in isn’t gray inside anymore, he had some friends come help him paint the walls to make it look more friendly. Everything inside the one room was neat and clean, he proudly told me how much he liked to finally be able to take care of everything himself.

Every day he rides, propelling his wheelchair, about 15 minutes up the main road to where he works in a cooperation building solar panels. He was part of a UN project which offered him a one year training in that field. He doesn’t stop working when he gets back home. With the start up aid he got when he left the hospital, he purchased material to make smaller solar panels at his house, which he can sell in his neighbourhood to make some extra money to live on.

He still has to come to the rehab unit regularly to check and dress his wounds. But it is great to see what education of the patient and continuous training of the staff here can do! 

We believe that the long term future of every patient is just as important as the intensive rehab they receive at the hospital. Finding ways to empower the patients giving them independence and access to work is so important and something we will always work to improve. Your support is helping to shape the future for these Haitians and they thank you whole heartedly for it.

Links:

Fritzner and Senatus in Switzerland
Fritzner and Senatus in Switzerland

It has been an eventful couple of months in the rehab centre. Firstly, a volunteer from the International Tennis Federation came to work with a couple of the rehab patients and as part of her visit they were able to participate playing wheelchair tennis in a local tennis festival in town. Herod was the champion, narrowly beating Fritzner to the trophy.

However, Fritzner can be forgiven for maybe not giving his all for the tennis cause as he has been training for the world championships in hand-cycling. Along with his trusty trainer, Senatus, he has been steadily training for the past six months on the roads surrounding the hospital to get in shape for the race. The world championships this year are taking place in Switzerland, and the duo had visas approved just in time to fly out mid-June so that they could acclimatise and continue their intense training schedule in Europe for six weeks before the big race at the end of July.

Our goal has never been to send all rehab patiants to compete in world competitions but through Fritzner's success many other disabled Haitians will be inspired to rebuild their lives and gain confidence from knowing their disability does not need to hold them back. Rehabilitation of the mind is sometimes harder than the body but just as Fritzner was inspired by the words of a disabled sports star who visited the hospital several years ago, many others will be inspired by him. 

There were also tears at the rehab centre as the team said goodbye to Dr Moise, who has been part of the rehab centre since the very beginning. He has dedicated five years to HCBH, using his expertise to help establish the rehab service, and helping to make it the leading rehabilitation centre for spinal cord injuries that it is today. Staff said goodbye in a touching service where various members of staff paid homage to his dedication and contribution to the rehab centre. He will be missed but leaves behind a highly trained and competent team to carry on his great work!

Wheelchair tennis tournament
Wheelchair tennis tournament

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Organization Information

Hope Health Action

Location: West Wickham, Kent - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.hopehealthaction.org
Project Leader:
Barry Mann
Volunteer
Bromley, United Kingdom

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