Archive for December, 2007

book_zombie.jpgIn his book, The Zombie Curse: A Doctor’s 25-year Journey into the Heart of the AIDS Epidemic in Haiti, Dr. Arthur Fournier sends out a cry from the front lines about the overwhelming role poverty plays in the spread of AIDS. 

His awakening came in the early 1980s when, as a faculty physician at the University of Miami Medical School, he saw AIDS spreading through the city’s Haitian population.

Learn how Dr. Fournier became involved in advocating better health care in Haiti and how his efforts encouraged others to join him. Dr. Fournier is one of the founders of Project Medishare.

All proceeds from the purchase of The Zombie Curse goes to Project Medishare. Click  here to purchase this book now.

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While the end of the year is approaching quickly, there is still time to make a 2007 tax-deductible donation to one of Project Medishare’s many programs. Continuing their commitment to the rural communities in Haiti’s central plateau Project Medishare establishes and funds sustainable health, surgical, and nutrition programs. These programs allow Haitian physicians, nurses and allied health professionals to receive further medical training and also provide technology, supplies and equipment to Project Medishare’s clinic in Thomonde and other affiliated programs throughout Haiti.

In February of 2003, Project Medishare began a donor-funded community health program in the community of Thomonde in the Central Plateau of Haiti which has created access to health care services for 72,000 living in the district of Thomonde, and the surrounding areas of Marmont and Casse. Over the past three years Project Medishare’s team of Haitian doctors, nurses, health agents, mid wives, lab and pharmacy technicians and administrative staff have achieved the following remarkable results:

  • Conducted 28,168 home visits, 1,959 rally posts and 118 mobile clinics;
  • Increased immunization rates in infants from less than 10% to 86%;
  • Increased the number of pre-natal visits for pregnant women from no pre-natal visits to an average of 3 visits for each woman;
  • Administered oral re-hydration solution to 8,298 children with infantile diarrhea, and provided treatment for worms to 7,865 children;
  • Decreased mortality among the population from 698 deaths in the first year of the Green Family Foundation Initiative (GFFI) program to 483 in the third year.

Additionally, Project Medishare continues to manage medical and surgical trips to Haiti. In partnership with several leading universities (University of Miami, George Washington University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University and the Mayo Clinic) in the United States, Project Medishare organizes trips of physicians, surgeons, medical students, other allied health professionals, and concerned volunteers to provide medical services to our programs in Haiti. These trips are completely incorporated into the health care delivery system that is already in place and they foster a strong partnership between personnel in Haiti and the United States. These trips supplement the activities of the GFFI, in Thomonde.

You can donate directly to Project Medishare by clicking here. If you would like to contribute directly to a specific program choose from the following below:

Akamil Nutrition and Training Facility in Thomonde ($225,000 needed to complete the construction) click here to donate to this project.

Specialty Surgery Programs in Hench and Port-au-Prince. Support specialty surgical programs like the hydrocephalus surgeries performed in October. Click here to join the team by donate to this program.

Community Health Program. Contribute $125 to support a health care agent’s salary for a month or $160 to pay for a health supervisor’s salary. Click here to continue the ongoing health care provided through the Community Health Program Initiative in Thomonde.

Once you arrive to contribute to the program of your choice click Join Our Team to begin the donation process.

Project Medishare and the people of Haiti’s central plateau appreciate any gift you can give.

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O’Rese Knight uses a Tono Pen to test a patient for glaucoma  at the clinic in Marmont.  The Tono Pen was a proper substitute for other equipment because it is powered by batteries. Knight is a fourth year medical student doing research at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Photos by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

Practicing medicine in a developing country has its challenges. By the end of Bascom Palmer’s final eye clinic the group took into account for all the adaptations they had to make in order for the clinic to be successful.

“There are a lot of improvisations with regard to not having the same resources that you have you are able to have at home,”fourth year medical student O’Rese Knight said. “You learn to adapt in situations where there is no electricity without reducing the quality of care.”

candle.jpgFor example, for a typical glaucoma exam the patient sits in front of a slit lamp but here the test was done by using a Tono Pen which test the pressure of the eye.

“The screening was also cut short because it  also includes using a Frequency Doubling Technology (FTD) machine,” Knight said,  “but because we didn’t have electricity we couldn’t use that machine.”

Knight said the FTD machine is used to test peripheral vision because this is what is effected first in glaucoma cases.

“Basically you have to convert everything to portable,” first year opthalmology resident Tom Shane said. “We have to run everything on batteries.”

Patients eye prescriptions were also determined a bit differently.

“We don’t have the correct  prescription,” Dr. Michelle Caputo said, “but we have the spherical equivilant that we use when we are prescribing them their glasses. ”

Another adaptation was when Dr. Caputo was fitting her patients glasses she bent the frames using a flame from a candle.

But it wasn’t just equipment issues that had the team reflecting on their developing world experience, but the conditions they saw in their patients each day.

“Here in general you see very exagerrated presentations of simple disease,” Knight said. “In the states, many of the conditions we saw this weekend we wouldn’t see back home because people at home have the resources to treat the condition.”

From testing for cataracts and glaucoma to providing  prescription  glasses or giving sunglasses for eye protection, the Bascom Palmer group feels their experience was successful.

“The first night we were here Marie Chery explained to us that there is a need for specialty services here and I think that is where we were able to fulfill that need,” Knight said. “We saw around 600 patients and we were able to hopefully prevent blindness. That means a lot to many of the families here because they are dependent on their sight to manage and maintain their lives here. ”


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By Jennifer Browning

Marmont, HAITI–Twenty-seven-year-old Else Jean arrived with at friend at the clinic with a severe infection in the left eye and the right eye was starting to show signs of infection as well. Else said that her eye began bothering her five days ago and when she found out that there were eye doctors in Marmont she had a friend take her.

She was diagnosed with severe conjunctivitis and according to Dr. Michelle Caputo, Else came to the clinic just in time.

“She had severe conjunctivitis that has caused her corneas to start to have inflammation and infection so bad that she could lose her eye,” Dr. Caputo said. “We hopefully caught her infection in time that we save her eye. This is one of the nice things about [Bascom Palmer] coming here so we can treat the acute cases that would otherwise lead to devastating vision loss. This girl would’ve been blind had she not come in to see us.”

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kimberlee.jpg By Jennifer Browning

Marmont, HAITI–A thin white film seems to coat two-year-old Kimberlee Pierre’s eyes. She doesn’t cry, she doesn’t smile, she just stares into the space of the nothingness she experiences. Kimberlee was born this way and according to her mother she cannot walk or talk as of yet. These developmental delays aren’t uncommon when sight is impaired from birth.

Kimberlee’s mother said she has traveled all over Haiti’s central plateau to see several doctors about her daughters condition, but the consensus was the same. There was nothing they could do.

Second year resident Mike Feilmeier said Kimberlee’s condition was probably bilateral corneal opacification, but before a doctor attempts to correct the condition her vision potential needs to be assessed.

“The real question is what is her visual potential and it is difficult to assess without doing surgery,” Feilmeier said.

But the surgery Kimberlee needs will be difficult to do in Haiti. Kimberlee more than likely would require a corneal transplant.

“It would be not only difficult to get that type of surgery in Haiti but also difficult to monitor her and follow up due to the remoteness of where she lives,” Feilmeier said.

His concern is that if the little girl did receive corneal transpant surgery that the transplants might fail.

“In the end we could be putting her through a lot for potential little or no gain,” he said.”The best thing for the mother to do is to take her daughter to get the highest level of care she can in Haiti which will be Port-au-Prince.”

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120313639-m.jpgWith the holiday season here many of us are scrambling around looking for the perfect gift for those we love. But what if this holiday season your gift purchase could benefit many?

At Giveline.com each purchase generates a substantial donation to Project Medishare- an amazing average of 16 percent of store sales, and sometimes as high as 33 percent. Giveline has great products, great service, and great prices – the only difference between Giveline and other major online retailers is that every purchase earns money for Project Medishare.

Giveline.com offers more than a million bestselling products including books, movies, music, electronics, housewares, gifts and more. So avoid the holiday crowds and head over to Giveline.com. and remember that with each purchase Project Medishare will earn significant funds to support a variety of programs in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

Want to give something unique to that art lover you know so well? Project Medishare’s new online store offers Haitian art and hand-crafted items. Purchase paintings by popular Haitian artists like Gesner Armand, Jean Baptiste Jean, Kens Cassagnol or choose from a variety of handmade metal or woodwork. Any of artful your purchases will help provide quality health care for the people of Haiti.

Visit Giveline.com here or Project Medishare’s art store here. Your loved ones and the people of Haiti’s central plateau will appreciate your thoughtful purchase.

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By Jennifer Browning

Thomonde, HAITI-Leaving the SUVs behind today the Bascom Palmer group left the Project Medishare office at 8 a.m. and took a short walk to the hospital. It was a good opportunity for the medical team to get a glimpse of the town where they are spending their evenings

By the end of the day the team had seen 278 patients.

cimg1959.jpg“I would say we made it a productive day,” Dr. John Clarkson said with a smile.

The Bascom Palmer team said there were less cases of glaucoma seen today than yesterday in Casse, but there were two cases of a hereditary eye disease.

“We saw a lot of glaucoma yesterday but today we saw a lot of people with cataracts. There were two in one family with a degenerative eye disease which is hereditary.,” Dr. Clarkson said. “We saw two cases of the same eye disease in Casse yesterday but we have no idea if all the patients in this case are related.”eric_eyeglasses.jpg

Like yesterday everyone got a pair of glasses to help them see better or they got sunglasses for protection.

“We feel like we are helping but our major concern is for people who need something major because they have glaucoma or cataracts,” Dr. Clarkson said. “For instance the patients diagnosed with cataracts were prescribed eye drops and they were given their first months supply. If they don’t continue to use the treatment then they could continue to lose their vision, then in that case we haven’t really helped them much.”

Surgery is required order to help the patients with cataracts. But surgery is a limited option in Haiti, and the nearest hospital for this type of surgery is in Cange a 45 minute drive from Thomonde or a two and a half hour walk.

The frustrating aspect is the follow-up for people who have the bigger problems,” Dr. Clarkson said. “For people who don’t have a major problem who needed glasses we have helped them in a more long term way, but the people with cataracts it is more difficult. One woman we recommended to go Cange because of her cataracts. She seemed crestfallen when we mentioned the hospital in Cange because she told us that she had no way to get there.”

Project Medishare’s Country Director, Marie Chery, said that a list is being made of all the patients who were given prescriptions for their eye conditions. A health agent employed by Medishare who will take the list and reach out to these patients to see that they get the refill prescription they need.


Dr. Malou Phanord conducts an eye exam at the Centre de Santé de Thomonde. Dr. Phanord works as Project Medishare’s doctor in Thomonde, Haiti. Photos by Gabrielle Denis.

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Ted Leng examines one last patient at the clinic in Casse. The group had to finish their eye exams in darkness because in the majority of Haiti’s central plateau there is no electricity. Leng is a second year resident at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Photo by Jennifer Browning

By Jennifer Browning

Casse, HAITI–Despite the sun going down, the Bascom Palmer group worked until the very last eye patient. Because there is no electricity in Casse, their day ended seeing their last bit of patients in darkness.

The group was prepared with flashlights and head lamps to help them continue their work.

“I thought it was kind of interesting that we were practicing medicine in the poorest country in the western hemisphere and here we were in pitch black darkness trying to finish our eye exams,” Ted Leng, a second year resident said.

The Bascom Palmer team saw 160 patients by the end of their first day in Haiti’s central plateau.

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By Jennifer Browning

Casse, HAITI–Two-year-old Leo Yvenel was seen by Emory and Project Medishare’s mobile clinic when they visited Casse three weeks ago. Leo was diagnosed with a retinoblastoma which is caused by a tumor which forms in the eye. His grandmother noticed the eye swelling three months ago.

Leo returned today with the tumor much larger than what doctors had seen in previous weeks and now the area was bleeding. Dr. Richard Lee said Leo actually had a condition called rabdosarcoma that can become a metastasic tumor if it isn’t treated.

Unfortunately, Leo’s situation is not rare. There is an opthalmalogist that visits the hospital in nearby Cange, but the doctor can only visit a few times a year. Compounding this problem is simply the lack of resources the parents in the central plateau experience.

“It is not uncommon not only because of the lack of resources but also education of the parents,” Project Medishare Program Coordinator Gabrielle Denis said. “When I spoke with the grandmother she was saying that she doesn’t have money to bring the child to the hospital in Cange for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.These limitations of resources to get this child the proper care he needs is possibly costing this child his life. ”

Dr. Lee attended to the child by putting pressure on the tumor, applied an antibiotic cream and patched the area to reduce the bleeding and to prevent infection. The positive of the case seen today was that Leo’s left eye was in great condition after being tested. However, the doctor said that Leo’s condition was serious and that if something wasn’t done within a month, the child could very well die.

“The tumor is a surgical issue,” Dr. Lee said. “My concern is that there isn’t a surgical procedure here available to treat this child. It is no longer a sight threatening issue but a life threatening issue. This would be a difficult case to treat even in the States much less a place like Haiti.”

Dr. Lee recommended that Leo get a CT scan to see if the tumor had spread throughout the brain. Leo’s grandmother plans to take her grandson to Cange on Monday.


Dr. Richard Lee along with medical resident Ted Leng examine Leo. Leo was diagnosed with rabdosarcoma which can become a metastatic tumor if it isn’t treated. Photos by Jennifer Browning

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Mike Feilmeier, a second year resident at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, conducts an eye exam at the clinic in Casse, Haiti. Each patient began with a basic eye exam before proceeding to be tested for glaucoma and other eye diseases. Each patient left the clinic with either sunglasses or prescription glasses. Photo by Jennifer Browning

By Jennifer Browning

Casse, HAITI–Four SUVs bounced along the rocky roads toward the Dominican Republic border to a small town called Casse. Today is the first of three days the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute will travel around Haiti’s Central Plateau to do eye exams.

People were already crowded around the clinic when the group arrived.

“I was excited to see a lot of people there,” second year resident Mike Feilmeier said. “To me it meant that they had done a good job spreading the word that we were going to be there which meant that there was a significant need for us to be here.”

The mission for this visit is to check for eye problems such as glaucoma, check the patients vision and prescribe glasses if necessary. Today every patient left with something. For those who were diagnosed with good vision, they received a pair of sunglasses. The sunglasses not only protect the eyes from the sun’s rays, but here they have equal importance in protecting the people’s eyes from the dust swirled around by wind or passing cars.

“By being able to provide them with prescription glasses, hopefully we are giving them a better quality of life,” Dr. Michelle Caputo said. “They can be more efficient in productivity by allowing them to provide more than families. We hope that providing these services that it has a cascading effect. The seamstress who has a hard time seeing the eye of her needle she has to thread hopefully has an easier time now that she has the glasses that she needs.”

Eight doctors and students from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute are donating their time this weekend to the people of Haiti.

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