Champion for Change: Rony Saint Fleur

April 30, 2021

When he was growing up in Saint Marc, Haiti, Rony Saint Fleur spent a lot of time in the local hospital being treated for typical childhood ailments such as colds and asthma.

And he didn’t like how he was treated by his doctor, a general practitioner. In fact, he didn’t like how the doctor treated any of the children in his care.

“One day, my father took me to a pediatrician in Port-au-Prince,” Rony said. “That’s when I realized that not all doctors were the same; that there was a difference between the pediatrician and the ‘other doctors.’ So I said to my father, ‘I am going to be a pediatrician.’”

Rony received his medical degree from State University of Haiti in 1999, spent a year in social services in Gonaives, and did a three-year residency in pediatrics at Justinien University Hospital (JUH). He then spent five years as chief of pediatrics at Sacre Coeur Hospital in Milot before returning to JUH in 2008 as an attending physician in the pediatrics service, a position for which Konbit Sante provided salary support.

Today, Rony is pediatrics program manager for Konbit Sante at JUH. He coordinates all Konbit Sante activities in the pediatrics service, is responsible for training medical residents and interns in pediatrics, and helps keep track of supplies and equipment with Melick Derius, assistant facility manager for the pediatrics building. The pediatrics service treats an average of 110 inpatients and 750 outpatients per month.

“Kids are wonderful—they don’t lie about their symptoms,” Rony said with a laugh.

Rony has played an instrumental role in numerous changes at JUH that have resulted in better care for its youngest patients. He helped implement monthly mortality reviews that identified issues with preventable deaths (especially infants born moderately premature) and the adoption of changes to address those issues. He served in an advisory role when the pediatrics building was reconstructed in 2017, which increased the space for patients and staff and helped address problems with sanitation, overcrowding, and ventilation.

He is particularly proud of playing a part in requisitioning several Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines and the training of the pediatrics staff on their use. The CPAP machines have been crucial in saving the lives of children with respiratory issues, he said.

When combined, those changes have improved patient outcomes and ultimately saved lives.

“Before, when we saw children who were near death, we weren’t able to save them,” he said. “Now we can. That makes me happy. It adds joy to my life.”

He credits the support of Konbit Sante for helping make that possible.

“To everyone who donates to Konbit Sante, I say this: Without Konbit Sante’s help, we would fail,” he said. “I hope that someday in the future we will be able to do it all ourselves, but for now, we still need Konbit Sante’s help.

“The lives of our children depend on it.”

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