In 2017, the neonatal ward treated over 650 babies. The reputation of the unit is spreading, with mothers travelling a long way for their babies to be treated here. This is down to the great work that the Doctors and Nurses do at our hospital. But this can cause issues with space and equipment as the unit was built to hold 8 babies, often there are over 15 babies needing care.
The lack of space poses many difficulties. The room for the nurses to manoeuvre is limited. Equipment is often shared by babies, or in some cases, equipment is improvised. After an emergency c-section for twins, one of the twins was struggling to breathe. As another infant was using the CPAP breathing machine, the nurses acted fast and created an alternative device using a plastic bottle - of course not a desirable solution but this quick thinking helped save the child’s life. It is a sad fact that there is simply not enough equipment to go around.
But it’s not just hard for the nurses. Space for mothers to be with their children is very limited. There is no room in the NICU for mothers to stay, so they sleep outside, bringing suitcases with their belongings as they don’t know how long they’ll stay. It is not uncommon while walking around the hospital to see mothers sleeping on any available surface. When the NICU is full, babies are transferred to paediatrics as an overflow. This does give parents slightly more room, so they can stay near their child. One of photos shows a mother has been sleeping on the chair next to her baby. She told us “the chair is my bed, and the table is my pillow”.
But we have a plan. This year, we are raising money to build and equip a new NICU. The new unit will dramatically increase the number of babies who can receive the very best care. There will be more bed bays, each with more space for vital equipment, nurses to work, and mothers to spend more time with their babies. The plans also include repurposing the current unit into training facilities and much needed drug storage.
We’re really excited about the impact these developments will have on patient care and working conditions. We will keep you up-to-date with these plans as they develop. But the support you are already giving will help us make this a reality. Our vision is that all babies in Haiti receive the care they need regardless of what their family can afford. Thank you so much for supporting this vision.