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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

Holding her doll tightly to her chest, a bright-eyed smiling 8-year-old Eve* greeted the Project Medishare team providing a home visit. With the cholera epidemic looming over Haiti, Project Medishare’s community health agents have increased the number of home visits normally conducted. These frequent home visits are so important to children like Eve.

Project Medishare community health nurse and Coordinator for the PEPFAR program, Rosemerline Pierre-Louis remembers when she first met Eve. Back then Eve was a completely different child.

Project Medishare nurse and Coordinator for the PEPFAR program, Rosemerline Pierre-Louis visits with 8-year-old Eve during a home visit. Eve, who was diagnosed with HIV last year, receives free medical care and tuition through Project Medishare's PEPFAR program. In the midst Haiti's cholera epidemic, Project Medishare community health agents have increased the frequency of all home visits, but especially to those infected with HIV due to their compromised immune system. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Four years ago, Eve’s mother died from AIDS, leaving the little girl and her three sisters in the care of Eve’s aunt. Last year, Eve began losing weight, and a respiratory infection caused her to become severely ill. Rosemerline visited Eve often, but was worried. Eve was thin, lethargic and depressed. During one visit Rosemerline brought her a doll to cheer her up. It is the same doll Eve clutches onto today.

“I wasn’t sure she was going to make it,” Rosemerline said. “But I visited her as often as I could. One day, I took a doll and hid it behind my back. I tried to get her to smile, but it wasn’t until she saw the doll that I saw her smile for the first time.”

Thanks to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant, Project Medishare was able to see that Eve received care at the hospital in Thomonde where she was eventually diagnosed and treated for HIV. Through the PEPFAR program Project Medishare is able to provide her not only with healthcare and life-saving medicine, but the program also pays for her tuition so that she can continue to go to school.

Despite her HIV status, Eve looks like any other 8-year-old who attends school in Casse. She loves to play with her friends and she often draws pictures for the Project Medishare staff who visit her.

“I love everything about school,” she said. “I love to read, sing and draw!”

Eve also has an idea about what she wants to be when she grows up.

“I want to be a doctor when I grow up, because I like the doctors….. they make people feel better,” Eve said. “They and Miss Rosemerline made me feel better at the hospital and they come see me often.”

As one of five organizations in the Cross Haiti Alliance, Project Medishare received a three-year PEPFAR NPI grant in December 2008. Project Medishare’s PEPFAR program, which officially began activities in July 2009, has been focusing activities in the very remote community of Casse/Lahoye located in the commune of Thomonde. Over a three-year period the grant focuses on providing support and care to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and their families, as well as HIV prevention and education to youth in the community.

Today, on World AIDS Day, we are thankful that children like Eve did not get lost among a sea of victims who have succumbed to the disease. While the PEPFAR program provides hope for children like Eve, community health agents still worry that with Eve’s weakened immune system, she is even more vulnerable than most in this cholera epidemic ravaging Haiti. Upon each home visit, health agents impress upon Eve and her family the importance of washing their hands, drinking only water treated with water purification tablets, and only eating peeled and cooked fruits and vegetables.  Rosemerline however stresses to the family. Eve has to have clean water as cholera would quickly kill her.

In the face of the cholera epidemic, Project Medishare’s  PEPFAR and  community health programs in rural Haiti are more important than ever.

If you would like to help Project Medishare with our battle against cholera, please click here to make an online donation in support of our Community Health Program based in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

*Names have been changed to protect the individual in this story.
* Laurene Leger contributed to this story.

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By Jennifer Browning

After receiving the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant, Project Medishare staff started identifying vulnerable children that they could assist along the guidelines of the grant.

As one of five organizations in the Cross Haiti Alliance, Project Medishare received a three-year PEPFAR NPI grant in December 2008. Project Medishare has been focusing activities in the very remote community of Casse/Lahoye located in the commune of Thomonde.

Program objectives are to enable indigenous NGOs to develop their capacity and capability to deliver orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) services at the community level; provide care and support services for HIV/AIDS OVC’s; prevent HIV infection among adolescent and youths; and provide access to palliative care for people living with HIV/AIDS and affected households.

Project Medishare’s local staff has agreed to live in this remote area. The community is also mobilized and participating which has a positive impact on the community.

In July, Rosemerlin Pierre-Louis, a Project Medishare nurse and Coordinator for the PEPFAR program found 16-year-old Ninitte at a town event. She was severely thin, complaining of pain in her chest, and was in need of medical care. Merline decided to take charge and took her to the hospital in Cange where Ninite was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

“Doctor’s at Cange found that she had water in the lungs, and she had pain in her chest so she was really sick and in serious condition,” Rosemerlin said, “but they were able to help her.”

Ninitte improved and was able to leave the hospital seven months later in January.

Ninite (second from the left) with her brothers and sisters at their home in Casse. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

But that wasn’t where Rosemerlin stopped with Ninitte’s care. Rosemerlin, who visited her in the hospital often, knew that Ninitte’s mother had passed away. When Ninette was able to leave the hospital, it would be Ninitte’s sister, Angeline, who would be primarily caring for her. Rosemerlin and her team continued to make sure Ninitte was improving.

“It was team work to work to help Ninitte continue to get better. I worked with the coordinator and the social worker,” Rosemerlin said. “I still come to visit her, and when I do visit I bring food and teach her older sister to cook for her, so that [Ninitte] eats healthy.”

Angeline said she is thankful of all that Rosemerlin has done for her sister and her family.

“It was very helpful to have her training in order to teach me how to cook healthy meals,” Angeline said. “Now I can help take care of my sister to help her continue to get better.”

Rosemerlin said nursing and taking care of others is her mission in life.

“It is a mission for me to find those who have nothing, and are in serious condition,” she said. “Ninitte is one of these people. Doing this work is part of what I believe in”

The Project Medishare nurse attended nursing school in la Cayes, and said helping her patients has always moved her.

“It was important for me to see patients get better and see them get back on their feet again,” Rosemerlin said. “I would do whatever I could to help my patients get better.”

At one point however, Rosemerlin said began to experience burn out, so she left the hospital and went to Port-au-Prince to study community health.

“I thought it would be better to be in an office,” she said, “because at the hospital I got too involved with the patients. “

But Rosemerline couldn’t stay away from the hospital, nor from the patients she cared about. A year ago, she found herself working for Project Medishare in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

“It is a calling for me to care for these patients,” Rosemerlin said.

Ninitte said that Rosemerlin is much more than a nurse to her.

“Rosemerlin today, for me, is like a mom, but even more,” Ninitte said. “Even if my mom was still alive she wouldn’t be able to do the things that Rosemerlin does to help me today. She is very special to me.”

**Laurene Leger contributed to this story.

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