Following the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Partners In Health (PIH) and our Haitian sister organization Zanmi Lasante (ZL) immediately began to both respond to immediate medical needs and plan for the long-term recovery and rebuilding of Haiti's public health system. Now, nearly 15 months after the earthquake, PIH/ZL's focus is on these long-term programs, including our community-based rehabilitative medicine program.
In general, patients have sustained one of four types of injuries: a closed fracture which will need follow-up x-rays and cast changes; an open fracture, which requires wound care in addition to typical fracture care; an amputated limb, which often requires additional surgical procedures for prosthesis fittings; or permanent neurological disabilities, which include spine fractures, spinal cord injuries or paralysis. No matter what the injury, these patients require specialized rehabilitation. Recovering from a fracture means not only learning how to walk with a crutch, but also retraining muscles, ligaments and tendons to walk again. Patients who have had limbs amputated or who have been permanently disabled will need occupational therapy to learn how to live with their disability, in addition to ongoing physical therapy to strengthen their muscles. Patients who underwent life-saving surgeries in the aftermath of the earthquake will require months, and in some cases years, of follow-up and aftercare.
PIH/ZL’s Community-Based Rehabilitative Medicine Program has two main components: Clinical Care and Community-Based Care. When an injured patient first comes to one of PIH/ZL's hospitals or clinics, they are seen by a clinician, who then refers appropriate patients to the rehabilitative team. A doctor of rehabilitative medicine handles all medical issues related to this disability. After a complete evaluation, the rehab doctor develops a care plan, 90% of which takes places outside of the hospital with PIH/ZL's team of community health workers. In cases of extreme injury, patients are reffered as inpatients to PIH/ZL's rehabilitation clinic (currently in Cange, while a state-of-the-art rehab center is being planned and constructed in St. Marc).
Back in the community, each patient is visited regularly by a home visit team, a three-member unit: a rehab doctor and/or nurse (for clinical support), a rehab technician (for physical and other rehab therapies), and a rehabilitation educator, who is a community health worker (CHW) who has been specially trained to tend to the needs of people with disabilities. Throughout this time, the patient's CHW visits him or her daily to monitor the patient’s state, providing in-home support and accompaniment throughout the healing process.
Thank you so much for your support of Partners In Health's earthquake relief and recovery programs. If you wish to continue supporting these types of programs, be sure to take advantage of the GlobalGiving Bonus Day on March 16! All donations made on 3/16 will be matched at 30% (up to $1,000 per donor)!
For video on our rehab program, click below: