Konbit Sante receives grant for critical upgrades at JUH

June 15, 2021

Konbit Sante has been awarded a $160,000 grant by the U.S. Agency for International Development to make capital improvements to the pediatric services building at Justinien University Hospital!

Photo: Solar panels displayed on the roof of Justinien University Hospital.

The multifaceted project will focus on infrastructure and maintenance upgrades aimed at improving health outcomes for young patients.

The grant will be paired with about $25,000 worth of volunteer hours and in-kind donations to fund the project, which includes:

  • Repurposing an existing rooftop solar panel array that currently supplies power to the municipal power grid to one that supplies power to the pediatric services facility through high-tech batteries
  • Repairing the domestic water pumping system and restoring it to automated controls
  • Equipping the hospital with a two-year supply of air filters for the building’s ventilation system
  • Providing maintenance and operations training on the building systems to the facility’s staff

“We are grateful for the funds from USAID to execute this project,” said Konbit Sante Executive Director Rupal Ramesh Shah. “The leadership staff as well as the pediatrics services staff at JUH are looking forward to the completion of this project so that they can continue to effectively manage patient care.”

Technical Manager, Hugh Tozer

The grant proposal was developed by former Konbit Sante executive director Nate Nickerson, who also worked with USAID to secure the funds. USAID is an independent agency of the United States federal government that leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people progress beyond assistance.

Konbit Sante is partnering with the nonprofit organization JustEnergy (also known as Justice and Mercy Energy Services) on the solar power portion of the project. The two organizations previously partnered on projects that provided solar power to the Konbit Sante office and to Unité de Lutte pour la Santé (ULS) Health Center in Bande du Nord, Haiti.

The repurposing of the solar panel system at JUH is especially important, as frequent power outages in the pediatric services facility has resulted in infant mortalities, said project manager Bob MacKinnon, who also serves on the Konbit Sante board of directors.

Project manager, Bob MacKinnon

“Since the construction of the pediatrics building in 2017, the municipal power supply has become increasingly unreliable,” MacKinnon said. “The interruption of power means that much of the life-saving and support equipment does not function when most needed. Consequentially, infant mortality has increased in the ward.

“Converting the solar array to a back-up power supply system should provide these critical, lifesaving circuits with uninterruptable power in most situations, and the hospital should see a reduction in infant mortality rates.”

MacKinnon has a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern Maine and a Maine-issued Class IV Water Operators’ License. He recently retired as superintendent of the Yarmouth (Maine) Water District after a 36-year career with the district. He has been a volunteer with Konbit Sante since 2009, and served as president of the board of directors for a couple of terms.

Hugh Tozer is the technical manager for the project, and has been key in coordinating the design aspects and material specifications. Tozer is a water and wastewater engineer with Woodard & Curran in Portland, Maine, and has volunteered with Konbit Sante since 2003. He is a current member and past president of Konbit Sante’s board of directors.

Both MacKinnon and Tozer have made numerous trips to Haiti in the past to provide professional expertise and to conduct repairs and improvements to Konbit Sante’s partner healthcare facilities.

“This project has been a true Konbit, with people from USAID, Konbit Sante, JustEnergy, and JUH bringing their expertise to bear on everything from the development of the grant and plans, to designing and procuring the supplies, and ultimately to construction and startup,” Tozer said. “Thanks to all the hard work, the pediatrics service will have a better infrastructure that supports care for the children.”

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