AMHE and the COVID-19 Pandemic
AMHE at Justinien University Hospital
Over the past eight weeks, we have watched in horror the spread of a violent pandemic that continues to desolate every country of every continent. Rich or poor, powerful or powerless, no one is spared. Despite attempts by the alternative media to trivialize and minimize its impact, the devastation lays bare for all to see. The richer countries despite their sophisticated health care system have not been spared. One cannot even gauge the level of anxiety in the mind of every healthcare professional, as the world braces itself for the impending pandemonium in less developed countries, with already a fragile and deficient medical structure.
Currently, Ecuador may be the crude example of this doomsday scenario with corpses strewn on the streets and the sidewalks and a completely overwhelmed hospital and clinic system. We watch these scenes with disbelief and compassion, but also with the deepest fear- a fear that we do not even want to put in words and express loudly-the fear that Haiti could face the same challenge in a not too distant future.
The Haitian Medical Association Abroad has been a solid partner of the health services in Haiti, since its foundation. Our interventions have included formal and practical teaching and training both on-site in Haiti and abroad in the USA or in Canada.
This support has been most sustained in Cap-Haïtien, where the AMHE has developed a strong relationship with the leaders of Justinien University Hospital.For more than 100 years, this institution has been the main provider of medical services for a community that has grown to nearly a quarter of a million people. Justinien is the sole hospital in the north of the country to offer care in the specialties of Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Ophthalmology, Urology, Orthopedics, Family Medicine and ENT, despite extremely limited resources. Indeed, healthcare represents just about 5% of the national budget. Yet, the hospital must continue its duty to care for all.
Over the past 11 years, whenever the political climate allowed it, the AMHE has conducted multiple visits to that hospital, during which advanced medical education has been provided to both the attendings and the physicians in training. Extensive screening has also been conducted for the detection and treatment of cervical and breast cancer.
During our multiple visits to the institution, we were given the opportunity to witness its shortcomings and its deficiencies, such as an unreliable power supply with interruption at the least opportune moments of a surgical procedure, flooding of the operating room because of a leaky roof, pregnant women unable to get clean sheets in the course of their hospitalization.
AMHE has taken note of all these issues and has been working to bring about some changes. A set of solar panels has been installed on the roof of the Operating Room suite and these power outages are a thing of the past. We have provided textbooks to the students and the residents in training. We have provided 100 sets of clean sheets and pillowcases for the in-patient units and we were getting ready to tackle the issue of the leek roof of the OR suite, when the Coronavirus pandemic hit us.
We have to applaud the energy and the devotion of the administrator of this important medical center, Dr. Jean Geto Dube, who seemed to have conjured up almost out of thin air, the resources to create a 20-bed Covid unit to accommodate the first wave of cases, with plan to expend the allocated space depending on the intensity and the severity of the eventual cases. Thankfully, no case has been diagnosed or admitted at Justinien, which has given him the opportunity to continue the preparations.
In addition to supporting the national effort coordinated by Dr. William Pape, AMHE is standing by Dr. Dube and has provided 500 face masks, as well as funding to supply oxygen tanks that are expected to be needed. We will be sending a supply of goggles to assure the protection of the healthcare workers who will be assigned to this unit. Clearly, a lot more will be needed and the members of the AMHE have embraced this cause and will continue to support our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Haiti.
However, it will take the cooperation of the entire community to sustain this endeavor. In these difficult times, the AMHE would appreciate any contribution large or small from the community. These contributions will be used exclusively for the support of the healthcare institutions in Haiti. Your donation can be forwarded to the AMHE via its web site at www.amhefoundation.org or can be mailed to: AMHE Foundation Po Box 211392 Royal Palm Beach, FL33421