This is the story of two very different facilities – one small and one large – and two overlapping approaches to keeping them open during a tumultuous time in Haiti.
Unite de Lutte pour la Sante (ULS) Health Center serves a semi-rural population in the mountainous outskirts of Cap-Haitien. ULS staff provide medical care including consultations, prenatal care, vaccinations, and family planning services, and operate an on-site pharmacy and laboratory. In addition to these clinic-based services, ULS community-based services include mobile clinics, education and support for traditional birth attendants, and provision of micro-loans to community members.
A decade ago, Dr. Maudelin Mesadieu approached Konbit Sante for help building a permanent clinic in this community north of Justinien Hospital. Konbit Sante volunteers, donors, and staff worked to design, fund, and build the current ULS facility, which opened in 2019. It is now the primary health center for this community of more than 25,000 people.
In recent days the number of patients seeking general consultation and inpatient care at ULS has nearly doubled, and the number of deliveries has more than doubled because the largest maternity department serving this community has been closed for more than a month due to lack of electricity.
ULS is open today because solar panels were installed in 2020 with funding from Konbit Sante and installation by JustEnergy. Konbit Sante’s challenge now is to provide the medicines and supplies the clinic needs for the next six months. Our partnership with the Dalton Foundation, an NGO based in northeast Ohio, will help accomplish this. There are currently tremendous challenges getting materials into the country, but we have years of experience doing it successfully, and are exploring all feasible options.
Hôpital Universitaire Justinien, our largest and oldest partner, is a 300-bed public referral hospital – the country’s second largest public teaching hospital – located in the heart of the city of Cap-Haitien. The hospital provides a wide range of services, including pediatric services, to a catchment area of more than one million people. Konbit Sante has partnered with the pediatric department at Justinien Hospital for 15 years, and hired Dr. Rony St. Fleur in 2008. As Pediatric Program Manager, Dr. St. Fleur implements quality improvement projects for the unit as well as teaching and supporting 10 medical residents who live at the hospital campus or nearby.
During a normal month, the pediatric doctors and nurses care for approximately 1,500 children in the outpatient unit and admit an average of 120 patients. Neonatal disorders, diarrheal diseases, and respiratory tract infections are the three leading causes of hospitalization. Newborns make up the largest proportion of the department’s caseload.
Although seeing fewer patients than usual due to heightened security threats in the city, Justinian pediatrics is open 24 hours a day. Most parts of the hospital have been closed since September for lack of fuel. But the pediatric service has electricity, thanks to a USAID-funded solar project that Konbit Sante led and completed earlier this year.
Solar array installed in spring 2022 at Hôpital Universitaire Justinien.
Dr. St. Fleur tells the story about an eight-month-old infant that highlights the impact of this project. The child was admitted to the pediatric service two weeks ago, close to death with severe dehydration. Two health facilities that were closer to the family’s home were inaccessible: one was closed due to lack of electricity and the other was a private hospital the family could not afford. The child received appropriate treatment and was released in good health two days after admission.
Like all Konbit Sante partners, Justinien pediatrics needs food and transportation support for staff, as well as medicines and supplies. The challenge for Konbit Sante is to address these immediate needs while launching a sustainable longer-term plan.