Tuesday, January 21, 2014


A monumental event in the recent history of HAH occurred Friday… 

Since the earthquake 4 years ago there has been continual discussion about the deficiencies in our operating room facility.  Various plans have been made to renovate it but do to various challenges none have yet to materialize.  About 6 months ago Dr. Geneus the medical director asked me if we could move forward on getting the job done.  I committed to doing it and a few minutes later called my friend Jean Marc who runs a construction company here in Haiti.  I asked him when he could come over and take a look at the project and he happened to be in the neighborhood and told me that in 5 min he would be at the front door.  This was actually quite coincidental because often when I call him he is not even in the country.  Initial plans were made and the collaboration of many people began to take place.  The leadership at Loma Linda has enthusiastically supported the project and several experts participating in the design and engineering have made trips down here.

I originally scheduled this trip with the idea that I would be here for a few days to check on the mid construction progress.  Not surprisingly start dates have continued to be pushed back and construction has yet to be started.  I thus made it the goal of my trip to set up a provisional operating room and have everything removed from the existing operating suite so construction can begin.

Mdme Clotaire and Francel
When I arrived on Friday I first met with Madame Clotaire who let me know that she was excited about the idea of getting construction started and that they would schedule some meetings next week to finalize design plans for a provisional operating room and then try to create a budget.  I let her know that we had already conceptualized the design and just needed to have her come up to the emergency room to have the workers create some space as demolition of the OR was to start on Monday.  There was a pause and a smile and within 15 minutes she was in the ER giving orders.  Immediately the workers started moving the furniture and groundbreaking was officially begun!

I then called Jean Marc to see if it might be possible to launch the demolition on Monday.  Fortunately he said yes and that he would send his foreman over to review the plan on Saturday night.  By sundown Friday evening only a fraction of the work was done, but much had been accomplished.

Workers Activate
After a Sabbath afternoon hike up the hill we came back to the hospital and worked late into the night disassembling shelves, moving equipment, organizing materials, and setting up an entire new operating room.  Fortunately by the time we had to leave for the airport the previous operating room was cleaned out and ready for renovation.

On Monday January 20 the construction crew arrived and started demolition.

Moving Out

Ready for Construction

Haiti Update January 2014

Okay, we all know that I have fallen behind in my reports on the latest news from Haiti Adventist Hospital.  I am sorry.  Generous donors, eager volunteers, and interested supporters have been patiently awaiting this long overdue report. 

This report is prompted by some exciting projects that are taking place as well as some generous end of year donations that will bring them to reality in 2014.  It should be remembered that January 12 marked the 4th year anniversary of a day that changed the landscape of Haiti.  Many lives ended that day; many were changed forever, including my own.  The question I get asked the most frequently is “are things getting any better down there?”  A hard question to answer.  Are things getting better anywhere in the world?  Will it be good that soon you will be able to stay in a Marriott Hotel in Port au Prince rather than staying at a locally owned place where dinner takes 3 hours to be served, they are out of 3 items on the menu and you might get sick the next day?  Maybe that is good.  Maybe it will give local workers some low paying jobs.  Maybe it will stimulate economic activity.  Or maybe it will just return the majority of your tourist dollar to corporate America.  Do we measure improvement in terms of GDP and creature comforts or strong faith, interpersonal relationships, and love for God?  If it is the latter then don’t forget that Haiti is already more advanced than the United States.

Independent of these difficult questions is the fact that health and healing is always needed and in the last 4 years many people have participated in providing this to the Haitian people.  The hospital has recently faced some significant economic challenges.  Part of this is due to the fact that charity care does not provide salaries for the nurses, pay the utility bills, and maintain the infrastructure.  The amount of volunteer services has had a significant impact on medical economics throughout the country making it more difficult to provide profitable services in the health care industry.  Balancing affordable care for the poor with profit generating health care services is always a challenge.  In the last 4 years the emphasis has been much more on the former than on the latter.  Sound business plans have yet to be developed.  Two very important concepts are necessary in order to successfully take care of patients with and without resources in a mission hospital:
1.      Excellent Services
2.      Provision for charity
With top quality services people with resources can be attracted and charged for services.  Donors and volunteers will want to participate in something of quality but it must be made available to people even if they have limited resources.

In the interest of both of these concepts, construction is scheduled to start this month to renovate the operating room suite, create a new clinical lab, and create an outpatient clinic area in the polyclinic building out front.  I have been most closely involved with the operating room project.  This will include enlarging the two existing theatres and doubling the size of the third minor procedure room to make three reasonably sized theatres.  Other improvements include:

  • ·         Operating room lights
  • ·         Central suction
  • ·         New autoclaves
  • ·         New flooring
  • ·         Recovery room
  • ·         Expansion of storage space
  • ·         Staff male and female toilets
  • ·         Dressing room
  • ·         Break room
  • ·         Centrally plumbed medical gases
  • ·         New doors
  • ·         New cabinets
  • ·         Electrical update with backup power system

The space requirements will be accommodated by moving the front set of double doors towards the central nurses station which will significantly increase the amount of available space.

The new clinical lab will be on the main floor at the end of the hall on the right which was used for a period of time as a central depot.  As with the operating room, professionals of various disciplines have been involved in the layout and design of this project.  The challenge of creating a top quality facility with the given space constraints and other considerations of practicality has not been easy, but I am confident that the hard work we have all been putting into making this a success will pay off and that our operating rooms and lab will be some of the best in the entire country.  A big thank you to all who have supported this project with your generous donations, time and expertise.  Stay tuned.