Health  Haiti Project #7074

Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti

by Partners In Health (PIH) Vetted since 2006 Site Visit Verified
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Equip University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti
Lovenyou, a 17-month-old malnutrition patient
Lovenyou, a 17-month-old malnutrition patient

 

Another year is beginning, and while there is still much work to do to ensure access to quality health care for people who have none, we have much to celebrate! With your help, Partners In Health made substantial progress in Haiti, through our network of almost 2,400 community health workers and 14 health care facilities, including our world-class teaching hospital in Mirebalais—University Hospital.

In Haiti, 1 in every 5 children is malnourished, and 1 in 3 is stunted because they don’t have enough to eat. With your help, Partners In Health is working toward eliminating malnutrition in Haiti and all of the places where we work. In an average month, 127 patients received care and nutritional supplements at the malnutrition clinic in Boucan Carré. That’s just a fraction of the total number of starving children PIH helped last year; altogether, staff enrolled 9,000 children as new patients.

Partners In Health makes an effort to reach all malnourish patients in all parts of Haiti. We support 14 clinics and hospitals in our mission to combat malnutrition.  One of our many patients was 17-month old Lovenyou.  Lovenyou had been sick with diarrhea for several days before a reaching PIH-supported clinic.  He was brought to the Boucan Carré clinic where he was diagnosed with severe malnutrition. When he arrived at the clinic, he weighed only 17 pounds – well below the normal growth curve for a boy his age.

As Lovenyou’s condition worsened (spiked fever, diarrhea, not eating, losing consciousness), his mother brought him to the PIH-supported University Hospital in Mirebalais.  Tests showed that he was in dire need of additional nutrients.  Within eight days of receiving treatment, Lovenyou was doing much better, but he still had miles to go. In the weeks to follow, his mother would travel with him (sometimes walking) on the 30-minute distance from home to the University Hospital.  During these visits, PIH provided Lovenyou with a supply of Nourimanba – nutrition rich paste which is produced and distributed by PIH.

Lovenyou’s and so many other patient's recoveries were made possible by donors like you. You have been instrumental in everything from keeping the lights on at our clinics, to the production and distribution of our nutritional peanut paste. Thank you for believing that everyone deserves health care, regardless of where they were born, and for walking alongside Partners In Health in our work to achieve our mission.   

Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health
Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health

 

(Marana Toussaint, 37, visited University Hospital near her home in Mirebalais, Haiti, after finding a small lump in her left breast. Oldine Deshommes (background), a PIH social worker, supported her throughout her care.)

 

Since the earthquake in 2010, Partners In Health has continued to expand many of our programs, and work to strengthen Haiti’s healthcare system by providing services that are often unaffordable to Haiti’s rural population. Your generosity has allowed Partners In Health Haiti to reach more families and create healthy neighborhoods. 

Partners In Health University Hospital is the sole public facility that provides free, comprehensive cancer care. Two other hospitals in the capital of Port-au-Prince—one public, one private—offer oncology services, but cost and access to care remain out of reach for the vast majority of Haitians, who make less than $2 per day.

After feeling pain and discomfort in her left breast, Marana sought council from her mother. Her mother recommended she visit University Hospital, Partners In Health’s tertiary facility in their hometown of Mirebalais, Haiti.

On a Monday in January 2014, Marana arrived at the hospital for her first appointment with Dr. Damuse, the director of the oncology program. The composed, gentle-mannered doctor gave Marana a thorough exam and detected a small lump in her left breast. She recommended a biopsy, which a surgeon performed the following day, and sent the tissue sample to Boston for testing. Then came the hard part for Marana—waiting.

Six weeks later, Damuse received the results and had to break painful news to the young mother: Marana had breast cancer. The good news, at least in Damuse’s opinion, was that it was Stage 1 or 2.

Zanmi Lasante, as PIH is known locally, began providing cancer care under Damuse’s guidance in 2010 out of Hôpital Bon Sauveur in Cange. In 2013, Damuse and her staff transferred their services to University Hospital, where they have tended to new patients and treated a variety of cancers—from breast cancer and leukemia, to colon cancer and lymphoma.

Breast and cervical cancer diagnoses far outpace any others. More than 50 percent of cancer patients Damuse and her staff care for have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Marana had heard of cancer before, but had never known anyone with it. In her mind, it was a death sentence. And for most people in Haiti, it is.

Damuse recommended that Marana undergo a mastectomy to remove the tumor and prevent the cancer’s spread, then take chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. Marana sought support from her then husband, who rejected and left her. 

Suddenly a single mother with no income, Marana turned to her mother and sister for help. She decided to go ahead with the mastectomy and chemotherapy, and she and her children moved temporarily into her family home while she underwent surgery and treatment.

Every two weeks for eight months, Marana visited University Hospital and sat for hours in the oncology department, where Damuse and her attentive nursing staff hooked her up to a series of IVs. The chemotherapy left Marana wracked by nausea. She vomited and lost her appetite and all her hair—right down to her eyelashes and eyebrows. Many mornings, she suffered from debilitating cramps in her feet that would only release once she began gingerly walking around the house.

Marana’s cancer journey affected her children differently, but had the most impact on her oldest daughter, Thamar. Always a solid student, the 15-year-old started to do poorly in school. She hated seeing her mother’s scar, and Marana began to shield her chest around her children. The younger ones didn’t completely understand what was going on. Naively, they asked if the breast would grow back. She didn’t want to lie, so she told them that, no, it was not going to grow back.

In January 2015, Marana finished her last chemotherapy treatment and was placed on Tamoxifen, a drug that helps prevent the recurrence of her form of breast cancer. It was a major milestone that, unfortunately, she couldn’t celebrate for long.

For three months after finishing chemo, Marana didn’t get her period. She knew she wasn’t pregnant, and doubted she was already going through menopause. Again, she turned to Damuse for advice, who referred her to University Hospital’s OB/GYN department for a pelvic exam. The physician found pre-cancerous lesions on her cervix and informed Damuse.

By December, Marana was back in surgery to have a total hysterectomy—both her uterus and ovaries removed.

This January, Marana marked her third year as breast cancer free. She remains on Tamoxifen, which she picks up at a pharmacy in University Hospital. She will remain on hormone therapy for up to another three years. Whenever she does come, she tries to swing by the oncology ward. On a recent morning, she arrived with her jet-black hair in a neat bob. Her skin shone, her shoulders were set square and strong. She also wore a smile, because, as she said, she didn’t want her face to look blasé.

There is no doubt Marana is a survivor. Two cancer diagnoses in as many years and a partner’s betrayal would be earthshattering for many people. She weathered it all, she said, by searching for what made her happy—friendships among fellow cancer patients, reading, and watching television.

She also derived strength from her faith. Marana attends a Baptist church in Mirebalais, where she sings in the choir and has often talked to other parishioners about her cancer journey. Not long ago, a fellow choir member spoke to her about a lump she had found in her breast. At Marana’s advice, the woman visited University Hospital and learned she had breast cancer.

Marana watched as the woman followed a path similar to the one she had recently traveled. Surgery, chemotherapy, hair and weight loss. And then, thankfully, recovery. She shared this story as if it were a minor detail about her day—nothing special.

When told that she saved a life, Marana looked surprised, as if the thought had never occurred to her. She didn’t say a word, and just kept smiling.

Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health
Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health

 

When University Hospital opened in 2013, staff frequently saw full-term pregnant women camped overnight on the cement sidewalks and courtyards. Mothers of NICU babies slept outside the ward so they could be available for regular care and feedings. There had to be a better solution—for mothers, babies, and the hospital.

 

Thanks to supporters like you, Kay Manmito—“mothers’ house” in Haitian Creole— was born out of that need, and inspired by the success of similar facilities in other countries where PIH works. Having maternal waiting homes near health facilities in Lesotho, for example, has increased the likelihood that expectant mothers will give birth at those facilities rather than at home, dramatically improving their chances of a safe delivery.

 

Mother-of-three Natacha began feeling unbearable pain while seven months pregnant. No matter how she shifted her body, her baby lay in an awkward position. Natacha sought care at University Hospital in September of 2017, and was seen by an OB-GYN, who confirmed that her baby boy was breech, or not head down. She also learned he was hydrocephalic, meaning his head was abnormally large from a buildup of fluid on the brain. The doctor recommended she stay nearby so that staff could monitor her risky pregnancy.

 

Normally, staying nearby would have been impossible for Natacha. She had no family in Mirebalais, and she definitely couldn’t afford two months of lodging as she waited for her Nov. 23 due date. Luckily, Zanmi Lasante, as PIH is known in Haiti, had a new maternal waiting home to accommodate women in situations like hers by providing free lodging at the University Hospital campus. She was admitted that same day, given a welcome kit including basic toiletries, and settled into a room she shared with two other expectant mothers.

 

Since opening in February 2017, Kay Manmito—“mothers’ house” in Haitian Creole—has welcomed 420 women with complicated pregnancies, along with mothers whose newborns were in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They come from all over Haiti, traveling from Cap-Haitien in the north to Léogâne and Les Cayes in the south. The facility will eventually host 44 women at a time—12 expectant mothers, 18 NICU mothers, and 14 mothers participating in kangaroo care.

 

“The mothers are really proud about Kay Manmito and the way we treat them,” said the maternal home’s director. “They feel like they’re part of a family.”

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Links:

Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners in Health
Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners in Health

Thank you for your continued support of PIH’s University Hospital!

The University Hospital at Mirebalais continues to be one of the only places in Haiti where patients have access to certain types of cancer care. We are pleased to share with you the following story from Haiti- about a mother named Martha, who continues to be treated for cancer with the help of University Hospital:

Like many cancer survivors, the 25-year-old mother Martha has been through a long and painful journey. She was sick for many months with CML, a rare form of blood cancer for which treatment was not available in Haiti.

She had been focused on her illness for so long that it was hard to envision a healthy life. It’s a common tale among patients in Haiti, where quality health care is rare, and a cancer diagnosis is typically a death sentence.

The medication that Martha needed wasn’t available in Haiti, but PIH advocated on her behalf and finally, after 12 months, negotiated a regular supplier of the necessary drug.

Although she doesn’t come to University Hospital for chemotherapy, she will depend on its pharmacy for the rest of her life. She visits every three months to pick up her supply of Imatinib.

Martha has now been on her medication for 13 years, and her only break was the nine months she was pregnant with her son Jamesly to ensure his safe development. She hasn’t noted any side effects. As long as she takes her daily pill on a full stomach, she feels fine.

There is no doubt in her mind that the medication keeps her alive.

Links:

Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health
Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health

Thank you for continuing to support PIH’s University Hospital!

We’re pleased to share with you the following story from Haiti—about a child named Lovenyou (pictured above), who was treated for malnutrition with the help of PIH and University Hospital:

Lovenyou was diagnosed with severe malnutrition just past his first birthday, weighing 17 pounds—well below the normal growth curve for boys his age, according to the World Health Organization—and measuring a below-average 29 ½ inches.

His health declined rapidly. He spiked a fever, had diarrhea, wasn’t eating, and—scariest of all—kept losing consciousness. Panicked, his mother scrounged for the money to pay a driver to take her and Lovenyou to University Hospital in Mirebalais, a 30-minute motorcycle drive from their home.

PIH staff admitted Lovenyou immediately, hooked him up to an IV, and performed a battery of tests to ensure the toddler wasn’t suffering something in addition to starvation.

Tests showed nothing alarming, but did confirm he was dehydrated and in dire need of additional nutrients.

After eight days of care at University Hospital, Lovenyou was healthy enough to return home. His mother began taking him regularly to PIH’s malnutrition clinic in Boucan Carré, and he is well on his way to recovery.

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Partners In Health (PIH)

Location: Boston, MA - USA
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Twitter: @PIH
Project Leader:
Laura Soucy
Annual Giving Coordinator
Boston, MA United States

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