From ANN, April 6, 2016: The Adventist hospital in Haiti, Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti (HAH), celebrated 35 years of providing health care services with the inauguration of a state-of-the-art surgical suite, a new laboratory and the installation of a private multi-med clinic, in Diquini, Carrefour, near Port-au-Prince on April 1, 2016.
The event drew top Haiti government officials, surgeons and community members, as well as representatives from Loma Linda University (LLU), Adventist Health International (AHI) and Florida Hospital. Many in attendance were witnesses to the hospital’s humble beginnings in the early 1980s.
“The past 35 years of Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti’s existence has not been a sprint but a marathon, and I am here to tell you that through it all she is still standing,” said HAH administrator Edward Martin as the ceremony began.
The hospital has seen its fair share of years of glory as well as years of pain, stated Martin. “During the devastating earthquake that struck the country in 2010, [the hospital] stood firm and prepared herself to receive those that were in need of care,” Martin said.
HAH provided care to many thousands injured in the earthquake, which claimed the lives of 300,000 people. HAH was able to provide that care thanks to its association and support from Adventist Health International, Loma Linda University and Florida Hospital. For over 20 years, Loma Linda University has provided funds and medical professionals to HAH, while Florida Hospital has also contributed funds as well as medical equipment and initiatives to help patients in need.
Adventist Health International is a non-profit corporation that provides governance, consultation and technical assistance to a number of affiliated Seventh-day Adventist hospitals around the world.
The hospital’s new surgical suite includes three fully equipped operating rooms with inline central medical air, a medical oxygen system, and a new modern laboratory.
President of the Senate Health Committee, Carl Murav Cantave, M.D., who is a Seventh-day Adventist, congratulated the Adventist denomination and HAH for its role in providing quality healthcare to people in different sectors of society. He challenged hospital leaders to “find ways to expand health care services because many times people travel to the United States or the Dominican Republic for better care and HAH can be that hospital.”
Haiti’s First Lady, Ginette Michaud Privert, an anesthesiologist, spoke about the years she worked at HAH (1985-1986) as a doctor in the Emergency Room services. She greeted the crowd of more than 100 on behalf of the president and congratulated the institution for its years providing service to the community. “I know that it has not been easy during the more than 30 years here, but thank you for providing quality services in Carrefour and at the national level,” First Lady Privert said.
Early Start at the Hospital
During the ceremony, Dr. Richard Hart, president of LLU and AHI, recounted the early connection to HAH’s beginnings after LLU graduate doctors working at Bella Vista Hospital, an Adventist hospital in Puerto Rico, began flying to hold clinics in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in the country in the 1970s.
“Soon after the need for a building became evident, that clinic became a small hospital,” said Hart.
Loma Linda University has been supportive, from providing public health trainings in the early 1980s, to bringing in HAH to be part of AHI in the 1990s; from a graduating class of medical doctors adopting HAH as a class project in 2006, to having two doctors from that class currently working at the hospital today. The commitment to HAH has continued every year since 2010, providing two dozen physicians offering medical services every year.
“Our commitment to keep this hospital the best hospital in Haiti continues,” said Hart.
The Inter-American Division (IAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination has also been committed to financially assisting HAH throughout the past 35 years, said Elie Honore, M.D., Adventist Health Services Inter-America president who oversees 14 hospitals and 24 clinics in the territory. A native of Haiti, Honore was instrumental in seeing that a hospital was built starting in 1979. “We had plans for a modern hospital at Delmas, but plans failed because of the opposition of local physicians,” recounted Honore. The hospital was built with California seismic codes, said Honore, which contributed to its resisting the earthquake in 2010.
In the early 1980s, Honore became administrator and medical doctor at HAH and has been instrumental in guiding, directing and overseeing the hospital through the ups and downs of financial struggles, poor leadership management, and crisis management throughout the years.
Honore, who is chairman of the AHSIA Inter-America board and still closely involved with the operations of HAH, said that although the hospital has some debt, it is improving.
With a staff of over 40 physicians, nurses and other staff, the hospital has seen an average of nearly 12,000 patients every year for two years, and it’s looking to continue providing quality service with love at every step, Honore said.
Compassion in Action
It’s that compassionate culture that the hospital is building on, said Martin. “We want to be an institution that reflects God’s love and compassion to all patients, partners and visitors,” he added.
The commemoration was an important moment to announce the institution’s role in the community and its commitment to remain a relevant healthcare provider on the island nation, explained Martin.
“We are here to cooperate with both public and private healthcare sector players in order to harmonize the delivery of healthcare in Haiti,” said Martin. “It is through such partnerships that we are able to capitalize on each other’s strengths, allowing us to be more efficient, effective and relevant to our community.”
HAH Working Partners
Martin was referring to HAH’s newest partnership with an insurance group, which will rent a remodeled medical office facility on the premises as a multi-med clinic managed by Compagnie d’Assurance d’Haiti or CAH—an insurance group in Haiti. CAH will provide its medical services on the grounds of HAH and refer its patient members to AHA for labs, radiology, surgery, hospitalization and emergency care and extended services.
Florida Hospital, which has been helping HAH since 2010, will soon begin a funding initiative called Operation Sunshine. The initiative, setup through the global mission initiative named My Neighbors Children, will help HAH provide healthcare needs to children from a network of orphanages throughout Haiti. Operation Sunshine will begin next month and is expected to bring some 2,000 children in for free care, all paid by the Operation Sunshine fund.
Another organization that will partner with HAH is CURE Clubfoot which is a program of CURE International—a non profit organization providing care to children with clubfoot, cleft lips, untreated burns and hydrocephalus.
Scott Nelson, orthopedic trauma surgeon from Loma Linda, has already performed hundreds of surgeries since 2010. After the earthquake struck, he traveled from neighboring Dominican Republic where he was working with CURE International to assist during the aftermath.
Nelson stayed for six months, and since then he has often taken time off from his surgeries at Loma Linda Hospital to travel to Haiti for a week and perform some 20-30 life changing surgeries for children with clubfeet and other surgical needs. “People here have no way of getting surgery on their own; if they didn’t have doctors to offer them surgery, it would not get done,” said Nelson. Nelson said his experience in HAH has completely put his priorities into perspective. “Having this opportunity to help others changes you and makes you look at how important an institution like HAH is and our part in the mission,” Nelson added.
The mission of the hospital continues to be one of reaching those in need of medical healing, hospital leaders said. Other organizations are scheduled to partner with HAH in the coming months to provide additional services to needy and paying patients as it moves forward in stabilizing its one million dollar operational obligations.
President of the denomination in Haiti, Pierre Caporal, thanked public and private institutions for partnering with HAH. “The administration of the church knows the commitment of its international and local partners and the challenge to continue offering a better life to the people in this country. Thank you for your loyal partnership.”
Future for HAH
Dr. Hart reminded those present how important HAH needs to remain in the community. “Hospitals are not buildings or equipment, hospitals are people, hospitals are relationships,” said Hart. “We have a long reputation in this country at this institution that we never want to lose, a reputation for caring, for compassion, for love; that is our hallmark.”
The Loma Linda president shared with the hospital how he envisions the hospital to become a teaching hospital in the future. For the past four years, Loma Linda University has been providing physical therapy assistant degrees to 64 students at the Adventist University of Haiti down the street from HAH. These students have done their clinicals at HAH, said Hart.
Martin mentioned that the hospital has its top five renovation projects to tackle yet, which include renovations to the emergency room, two communal rooms, the main floor and administration offices, as well as the polyclinic outpatient services area.
Still today HAH is not about how much it has left to do but about appreciating “the small steps that the hospital has taken in order to be a better healthcare provider for people,” explained Martin.
“The hospital for many here symbolizes more than just a beautiful structure, more than a place to receive medication or another lab result. It represents hope and life,” Martin said.
Haiti Adventist Hospital is a 65-bed facility, with three new operating rooms, a new laboratory, a prosthetic rehabilitation center, and a prosthesis laboratory. It offers orthopedic services, internal medicine services, ophthalmology and urology, as well as pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecological services and many more services.
Adventist News Network (ANN) is the official news service of the denomination’s world headquarters in Washington, DC. Featured image: Haiti Adventist Hospital, 35th Anniversary Celebration Port-au-Prince, Haiti, April 1, 2016. Photo credit: ANN/Libna Stevens/IAD.