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With renovations completed, Project Medishare doctors and nurses are treating patients in the clinic again. For almost two years the clinic shared a space with a school down the road. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

Project Medishare began overseeing the government clinic in Casse in 2007. With a grant provided by Cross International through the government from USAID/PEPFAR, the Casse clinic renovations began in 2009.

During renovations, a local school agreed to share space with Casse medical staff. And although there is still a need for some furniture and some equipment, today the clinic is once again serving the community at its original location.

Altagracia Pierre, 18, who brought her sister’s baby for check up to be vaccinated, said she is happy the renovated clinic is operational.

“When the school shared the clinic there wasn’t much room. Here it is more comfortable and there is more space,” she said. “The service seems better too.”

Pierre said she is appreciative of Project Medishare’s efforts to provide healthcare in her community.

“Here at the clinic it doesn’t cost as much to see the doctor as some other places,” she said. “Also the doctors here do whatever they can to help you. If you need medication and they have it available they make sure you get it.”

Project Medishare nurse Viergerlie Guerrier triages a patient at the newly renovated clinic in Casse. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Chantal Guerrier, 37, came in for her family planning consultation. She said she loves the renovated clinic.

“It’s beautiful and nice. If you are really sick and you have to stay for the day, there is now a place for you to lie down,” she said. “Before, there was nowhere to rest if you were very sick and waiting to see a doctor.”

She too likes having a clinic nearby in her community also because it helps save money on transportation costs.

“It is good when you have your clinic near you because the healthcare if very close, you don’t have to walk a long distance or take a donkey. It is accessible; it is close which is good especially if there is an emergency,” Guerrier said. “It also helps us save money because we don’t have to spend the money to rent a motorcycle or a donkey. That means I have more money to feed my family.”

Louis Anelus, an auxiliary nurse at the Casse Clinic, worked at the clinic before the renovation plans were in place. He said he can tell that people in the community are happy to have the clinic renovated.

“People were so happy when they heard that improvements would be made to the clinic,” he said. “They were desperate for improvement.”

Anelus said the clinic is so important to the people in the community.

“The clinic here is so important for people because before this clinic, people didn’t have money for healthcare,” he said. “Now with Project Medishare here operating the clinic they pay so little and the community is so happy.”

In the former clinic (seen here), there was no for a laboratory. Today the newly renovated clinic has a lab technician available to run a variety of tests. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

With renovation also came staffing improvements.

“In the old clinic there was a space for a lab, but there was no funding for personnel to operate the lab and run the tests,” he said. “Now we have a lab technician and the lab can function fully.”

But it isn’t just aesthetics and improvement in staffing that excites Anelus, but also that the community is part of what is happening in regards to the improvements in healthcare.

“I am so happy that we have the clinic again and that it is renovated. When we were sharing space with the school down the road we couldn’t see very many patients,” Anelus said. “Here we can see more patients, and I feel that the people in the community are proud to have this clinic here and they feel like they are a part of what is happening. And that is so important.”

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By Jennifer Browning

Vodou Saints: Tales of Life, Death and Resurrection for Haiti written by Project Medishare co-Founder Dr. Arthur Fournier is now available on your favorite e-book.

Dr. Fournier has written Project Medishare’s story, from the beginning through the earthquake and the recent cholera epidemic. In the process, Dr. Fournier provides inspiring stories of the courage and resilience of the Haitian people.

An account of Dr. Fournier’s travel through the earthquake-ravaged nation of Haiti, through Vodou Saints he shares lessons of life and death, courage and resilience as he joins with Haitians dealing with the aftermath of the world’s largest natural disaster. As he recounts stories of the special care needed for patients with AIDS, Dr. Fournier reveals a personal family tragedy that brings the story full circle.

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Project Medishare for Haiti.

Find Vodou Saints for your favorite electronic reader below:

Amazon (Kindle)

Sony

Barnes&Nobles (NookBooks)

Also available on Google and through Apple iBooks.

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Vodou Saints: Tales of Life, Death and Resurrection for Haiti by Dr. Arthur Fournier will be available for Kindle, Nook, Sony and iPad February 21.

Vodou Saints: Tales of Life, Death and Resurrection for Haiti written by Project Medishare co-Founder Dr. Arthur Fournier will soon be available on your favorite e-book.

Dr. Fournier has written Project Medishare’s story, from the beginning through the earthquake and the recent cholera epidemic.In the process, Dr. Fournier provides inspiring stories of the courage and resilience of the Haitian people.

Vodou Saints: Tales of Life, Death and Resurrection for Haiti will be available for download on your favorite electronic reader February 21. All proceeds benefit Project Medishare.

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Dr. Gerarde Mondesir conducts a prenatal exam for 24-year-old Jesula Alexander at the clinic in Marmont. Upon opening, the maternal health center will provide women in the Central Plateau a full package of women’s health services including reproductive health education, family planning, along with HIV/AIDS counseling and testing. "I am so happy about the maternal health center opening," Alexander said. "I hope it is ready by the time I have my baby so that I don’t have to travel far to have my baby and receive healthcare. I can have my baby here." Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

Jean Vasula, 17, sits with her 2-month-old son Maté at the clinic in Marmont waiting to see the doctor. Here doctors see everything from pediatrics to adult medicine and for now, even provides family planning as well as prenatal and postnatal exams.

Thanks to the Greig Family, who completely funded the construction of the Maternal Health Center, and MedShare who donated all of the medical equipment, women in the Central Plateau are closer to having access to a full package of women’s health services including reproductive health education, family planning, along with HIV/AIDS counseling and testing.

A grant provided by Ralph Lauren is assisting with upstart costs such as staff salaries. Currently, Project Medishare is recruiting and interviewing midwives, nurses and other personnel for the center.

Vasula said while she was pregnant with Maté, she visited the Marmont clinic each month for her prenatal care. She said she is excited that there will be a clinic dedicated to women.

“The new maternal health clinic will be so good for [women in the community],” Vasula said. “Right now, here in Marmont we have to depend on the hospital in Thomonde. If we need a test, we have to go to Thomonde; or if we have any complications we have to go to Thomonde or maybe even further in Hinche. I am glad the maternal center is opening here because it will serve the whole community and all women here will have access.”

In Haiti, and particularly in the Central Plateau, the high rate of maternal mortality remains a challenge. Haiti’s statistics regarding maternal mortality are among the highest in the Caribbean: 1 out of every 37 female deaths is linked to a high-risk pregnancy.

Haiti’s poor suffers by far the highest maternal mortality ratio in the Western Hemisphere. According to UNICEF, out of 100,000 live births, 670 Haitian women died of pregnancy-related causes in 2006.

Familiar with complications that can come with childbirth, Vasula hopes by having a maternal center in the community, less women will lose their babies during birth.

“It will help because with me, I had trouble during my pregnancy,” Vasula, who had her baby in Thomonde, said. “If I had my baby at home like many women do here, I would have lost my baby.

Vasula said when she was going into labor with Mate, she was at home with a mid-wife, but there were complications. Her family found a way to get her to Thomonde where she eventually had a C-section. While the maternal health center won’t be performing surgeries like C-sections, the medical staff there will be able to monitor the delivery and send women like Vasula to Thomonde for emergencies.

Gillef Mieloudes, 33, gave birth to her son Yadley at home. She said she was lucky that she didn’t have any complications.

Mieloude who lives in Denizrad situated between Thomonde and Marmont went to Thomonde for her prenatal checkups each month and planned to give birth at home, with the help of a midwife. But by the time the midwife showed up she had already had the baby.

She said she is happy knowing the maternal health center will open soon so that women in her community will have the services they need.

“When the maternal health center opens, if any women have complications with their pregnancy then they will know that there is a place for us to go,” Mieloude said. “Right now women in my community rely on Thomonde for the things that we need when it comes to our health. It will be so nice to have a place that is for women only.

The new maternal health center will be equipped with a full laboratory, incubators, examination and observation rooms thanks to a generous equipment donation provided by MedShare. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Jacque Balde, an auxiliary nurse for the Ministry of Health at the Marmont Clinic said there is a lot of interest in the maternal health center.

For now women go to the clinic in Marmont to receive women’s health services, and the new maternal health center will allow the Marmont clinic to focus more on pediatric and adult medicine.

“This is important that the people here will have such service, a good service in their home in Marmont,” he said. “When the maternal health center opens it will allow us to organized the Marmont clinic better so we can focus on pediatric and adult medicine.”

Balde is all too aware of complications that can come with childbirth. A few months ago, his wife suffered from eclampsia and gave birth to their son two months early.

“She gave birth at Hinche but there were no incubators,” he said. “They wrapped up our baby and kept him close to my wife, but at seven months you need an incubator. When I saw the incubator at the maternal health center it made me think of my son. If there had been an incubator at Hinche, it could have saved the life of my child.”

As the field coordinator for Marmont, Balde also organizes Project Medishare’s community health agents to go out into the community. As soon as he gets word that the center will open, it will be his job to educate the community health agents to let people know about the maternal health center and about the updated medical equipment available for the women in the community.

Project Medishare internist, Dr. Gerarde Mondesir said a big problem right now is that many of the women come to the Marmont clinic for their prenatal follow-up, but then they will go give birth somewhere else like Thomonde or in Hinche.

“The doctors and midwives there have never seen them before and have no clue about how their pregnancy has been the past nine months,” she said. “I think that it is important to have a maternal health center here, because if we detect a possible problem during their prenatal visit, we will know it and it will be on their file when they come in to give birth. We will be able to follow-up with them better because all of their care is happening in one place.”

Dr. Mondesir said it is also essential that women in Marmont will have a center in their community where they can give birth. She hopes by having the maternal health center, less women will have their babies at home. And she feels this will help decrease the maternal mortality rate in the community of Marmont.

“Sometimes the women live very far and getting them on the road and then all the way to Hinche or all the way to Thomonde is very difficult for them,” Dr. Mondesir said. “When the women realized how long it will take to get to the hospital, they just prefer to stay at home and have the baby there. I think that the maternal health center will also help decrease the maternal mortality rate here in this community. While there will be some mothers who still have their babies at home because they can’t make it here in time, I believe more women will come here knowing that there is a place close and someone here who can help them.”

The maternal health center is scheduled to open this spring.

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Marie Maude Pierre provides a cup of water for her 19-month-old daughter Daphta at the Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) in Mirebalias. Pierre said after just a few hours of receiving IV fluids Daphta already seemed to feel better. Project Medishare, in partnership with Partners in Health, is operating the CTC which has already treated over 10,000 patients since November. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

Marie Maude Pierre arrived at the Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) in Mirebalias at 2 a.m. on a Thursday with her 19 month old daugher, Daphta.

Pierre said Daphta’s diarrhea started Wednesday morning, but seemed to get better during the day after she coerced her daughter to drink the Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) she had for emergencies just like this.

“At first I wasn’t really worried because I had ORS at home, so I mixed it with treated water,” Pierre said. “She wouldn’t drink it at first, but I finally got her to drink it.”

But during the evening, Daphta refused to drink the ORS and her symptoms worsened so Pierre, who lives in Grand Boucon, began the long walk to the CTC in Mirebalais so Daphta could receive treatment.

Aciane Devoinsin tries to comfort 2-year-old Yusmie. Devoinsin took a two hour journey in the middle of the night to get her daughter to the CTC from her village of Sarazin, near Las Cahobas. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Aciane Devoinsin tries to comfort 2-year-old Yusmie. Devoinsin took a two hour journey in the middle of the night to get her daughter to the CTC from her village of Sarazin, near Las Cahobas. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Pierre learned about cholera back in October. While shopping at the market, she received a text message on her phone from Digicel telling her there was a cholera outbreak along the Artibonite nearby. The text also explained what cholera was and what needed to be done to prevent and treat it.

“When I came home from the market, everyone was talking about cholera and how it was spreading very quickly and that a lot of people were infected already.”

After talking to people in the community, Pierre’s husband heard health agents were distributing aqua tabs and ORS nearby in Saut d’Eau.

After receiving treatment for over ten hours Daphta is already showing signs of progress.

“When we got here, they gave her the IV and now she is already looking better,” Pierre said. “Now she is willing to sit up and she is even smiling.”

When Aciane Devoinsin returned from the market, her older daughter told her that 2-year old Yusmie had diarrhea, by the middle of the night the vomiting began.

CTC staff spray their shoes with a high concentrated bleach solution to help avoid further spread of cholera. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

“I could tell that she was very tired and I worried that she wasn’t able to keep any fluids down,” Devoinsin said. “So I found a ride to come here.”

Even though Mirebalais is the closest CTC, it took Devoinsin two hours to get her daughter to the CTC from her village of Sarazin, near Las Cahobas.

“When we arrived the doctors put the IV in immediately. Yusmie was so weak when we got here, but now I can tell she is feeling better,” she said. “She wanted to play this morning. I am happy that at least my daughter is starting to feel better, and I am so thankful that there are people here who can help her.”

Both women said that they are taking precautions at home to treat all of the water before they use it for drinking or cooking, but it is difficult when a toddler is involved.

“I try to watch her and keep her hands clean,” Devoinsin said. “But she plays on the dirt floor, on the ground and I can’t carry her all day. I still continue to use the aqua tabs that were given to our family and everyone else has stayed healthy.”

Looking inside the acute care tent at the CTC operated in partnership by Project Medishare and Partners in Health, one might think that cholera is no longer an issue in Haiti. Mirebalais CTC administrator Almeus Techelet said until December the CTC was completely full.

“We had to double our capacity in order to treat everyone who came through the door,” Techelet said. “In January the flow of patients has lowered, and while we have less patients, we still have several people arrive each day with cholera.”

Techelet says the decrease in patients is due to education and prevention campaigns that were launched when cholera was discovered in October.

“People are more cautious now and they have learned to how to prevent getting cholera,” Techelet said. “This is why the patient flow has gone down. People now are taking more precautions about the water they use and drink, what they eat. They are more careful about preparing their food and also washing their hands.”

Dr. David Walton, the deputy chief of missions for Partners in Health, said the decreasing number of patients seen at the Mirebalais CTC is deceiving.

“It’s tricky because if you look right here at this cholera treatment center you would be deceived to think that cholera is getting better, but if you take a look at the places in the south there are reports of hundreds of people dying in the mountain sides and even in other cholera treatment centers and cholera treatment units,” Dr. Walton said. “This being one of the places where the epidemic started, we have sort of stabilized, but in many parts of the country they are just hitting that peak of cholera ravaging the countryside.”

In addition to more people following precautions, Dr. Walton said today more people are catching the disease earlier, which makes it easier for doctors to treat.

“Another thing we are seeing is a lot of people are coming earlier in the disease, so they get a little diarrhea and upset stomach and they get here well before they have the chance to develop severe cholera and severe dehydration,” he said. “So we are seeing people not necessarily in shock but a little bit earlier, which is good because it helps us resuscitate them. “

Dr. Walton explained that cholera hit St. Marc and Mirebalais the hardest first, so now these two places are stabilizing. And while the results at Mirebalais are positive, he said that doesn’t mean cholera is over in Haiti.

“It has been positive. You look at places like here…people live up there in the tops of those mountains. People live all over in there. You can’t see their houses from here but they are up there. How do you get the message to people up there? You have to get out, get to them and get the message to the people,” he said. “I think it has been really positive, but it’s only as effective as our ability to get those tools to the people.”
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Video produced by Omar Vega.

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By Jennifer Browning

Today marks one year since a powerful earthquake devastated Haiti causing widespread death and destruction. That day, in less than 40 seconds, millions of lives were changed forever.

In less than 40 seconds, millions of peoples lives changed in Haiti after a 7.0 earthquake struck a year ago today.

Just 20 hours after the earthquake, Project Medishare volunteer doctors, nurses and emergency personnel touched down in Port-au-Prince. They were among the first to respond to the disaster. Over the past year more than 5,000 doctors and nurses have joined us in treating more than 75,000 patients.

While Haiti has faced a hurricane, flooding and cholera, Project Medishare has continued to stand by the Haitian people in our mission to improve medical services in Haiti. But things are worse here in Haiti today than they were a day after the earthquake.

After Project Medishare transitioned from the field hospital to Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare (HBMPM), the hospital staff there have treated over 45,000 patients, provided over 10,000 emergency room visits and performed an estimated 200 surgeries each month.

Not only is HBMPM Haiti’s only critical care and trauma facility, it also continues to operate the only pediatric and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU/PICU) and spinal cord injury unit.

A Project Medishare nurse evaluates a child at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare, currently Haiti's only critical care and trauma facility. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Through our Amputee Rehabilitation Program we have fitted over 200 children and adult patients with lifesaving prosthetic limbs. Thanks to the Knights of Columbus, who have joined us in our quest to provide prosthetic limbs to Haiti’s amputees, we will be able to provide prosthesis and therapy for children. As these children grow, we will be able to fit them with up to three prosthesis including two years of therapy.

Project Medishare’s training and education programs for HBMPM medical staff are also moving forward with a generous grant from the American Red Cross. Today University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine’s Enrique Ginzburg, M.D., and Gillian Hotz, Ph.D., are meeting here in Port-au-Prince with leaders from the American College of Surgeons international program and other universities to coordinate the education and training of critical care health professionals in Haiti.

Tomorrow, architectural plans that will double the 45 beds at HBMPM and add an education center to train Haitian health professionals in critical care will be finalized. This will help us achieve the long-term goal in making HBMPM and its Haitian medical staff self-sustainable.

Project Medishare’s existing Community Health Program continues to serve over 100,000 in the Central Plateau. Through this program community health agents have been essential in battling cholera in and around the community along the Artibonite River. Armed with bullhorns and packets of oral-rehydration therapy, as well as donations of bleach and soap, our teams initiated a community education campaign. Our community doctors and nurses are also working at the Cholera Treatment Center in Mirebalais where we have treated over 10,000 patients suffering from this disease.

Project Medishare community health nurse Wiseline Celestine uses a bullhorn to educate people in Thomonde about cholera. Project Medishare's health agents were vital in educating the people in order to prevent cholera in their communities. They are also conducting additional home visits since the epidemic occurred. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

In the coming months, Project Medishare will celebrate the opening of the Akamil Production Facility in Thomonde and the Maternal Health Center in Marmont.

The final pieces are being put in place to finalize the Akamil Facility. Ground breaking began June 2007 for the construction of the facility, but final construction and equipment installment was delayed after earthquake. When production begins, it will mean so much to rural Haiti and those Project Medishare serves in the commune of Thomonde.

Thanks to the Greig Family, who completely funded the construction of the Maternal Health Center, women in the Central Plateau are closer to having access to a full package of women’s health services including reproductive health education, family planning, along with HIV/AIDS counseling and testing.

With the ongoing support of volunteers and friends around the world, Project Medishare has accomplished so much in the past year.

There is still critical need in Haiti today. Today, Project Medishare remembers those victims who perished or were injured in the earthquake.

To show your support Text “Save” to 501501 to donate $5 or click here to make an online gift to assist Project Medishare in continuing lifesaving work in Haiti.

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