Medical teams from Holy Name Medical Center (HNMC) in Teaneck, New Jersey have been volunteering at Hôpital Sacré Coeur for twenty years. Since becoming the sole member of The CRUDEM Foundation in the fall of 2012, Holy Name staff members have traveled to Milot on a regular basis to lend their compassion and talents to the Haitian hospital, in the ongoing effort to deliver quality healthcare. As HNMC President and CEO, Mike Maron explains, “We want to show we can build a model that is sustainable and can be supported long-term; and that ultimately, Haitians themselves can act with accountability and provide a great level of care.”
It’s not just a business model that motivates Holy Name’s involvement in Milot; a heartfelt passion for the well-being of the Haitian people and a pledge to not abandon them, to the deadly spiral of poverty, disease and neglect, motivates the New Jersey hospital’s mission. Let there be no doubt about it: Holy Name Medical Center is in Haiti for the long haul.
Such passion reaped benefits back in Teaneck. “When a staff member returns from Milot,“ said Mr. Maron, “he or she becomes a far better person. That’s good for that employee as an individual and great for Holy Name. The experience one gets in Haiti strengthens one’s sense of camaraderie and sharpens critical thinking skills. By having to think out of the box, you become an unbelievably better healthcare provider.“
Recently we asked several Holy Name staff members three questions: Why do you serve in Haiti? What have you learned personally and professionally because you went to Haiti? And, how has serving in Haiti made you a better Holy Name employee? Here are their inspiring replies:
I serve in Haiti because I feel a great sense of pride knowing that the work we are doing is helping to improve Hôpital Sacré Coeur, and improve the care given to the patients at Hôpital Sacré Coeur. And all the things we do in Haiti reflects on Holy Name Medical core values.
I have learned personally that it does not matter what your situation is in life; anything is possible when you have faith and believe in yourself. Professionally I learned that hard work and endurance are important to success.
Serving in Haiti made me a better Holy Name employee because I developed a sense of pride knowing that I work for an organization that gives me the opportunity to serve in Haiti. I look forward to all future challenges at both Holy Name Medical Center and Hôpital Sacré Coeur.
Construction Project Manager
I serve in Haiti to help the Haitian people. The people of Haiti and Hôpital Sacré Coeur are eager to learn and expand their knowledge. I enjoy sharing my expertise and helping them understand that the supply chain is an essential function to run the hospital. As we continue to add services at the hospital, it is vital that we are able to provide the supplies needed for the clinicians to do their work.
I have learned to utilize all of the skills that I have. We are focused on the day to day skills that we use in our daily jobs, but when you come to Haiti you have to expand your boundaries to find solutions to problems that you would not typically face in your daily function.
I have understood our mission better by serving in Haiti. What it means to be an employee of a Catholic hospital and to serve others. It is a wonderful experience.
Director, Supply Chain Management
As a Haitian American, I feel a sense of duty to serve in Haiti and make a difference in the lives of the people of Haiti. Also, serving in Haiti is very personal to me; my mother is laid to rest in Haiti, so part of my heritage is buried there — a piece of my heart belongs to the country of Haiti.
Personally, I have the chance to get to know the part of my culture I did not fully understand. Professionally, I learn so much about healthcare in Haiti. It’s also a privilege for me to be part of all the hard work, part of the technology we are implementing and all the services we render to Hôpital Sacré Coeur. Best of all, we are improving the quality of life for the people of Milot.
Honestly, serving in Haiti is a humbling experience; it definitely makes me a better person. When you visit the pediatric unit and engage in a small conversation with the parent of a sick child; and the next day that parent brings you a mango, when you know that’s probably all they have to eat, but they share it with you to show appreciation, you leave Haiti a changed person. I’m more understanding of others.
I look for the good in all situations and I keep a positive attitude.
—Judith L. Raymond
Project Development Coordinator, HSC/Haiti
Why do I serve in Haiti? The simple answer to that question would be — Because this is where God wants me. Now, I realize that may sound cliché or like a canned answer, but it is the truth. I firmly believe that I am the product of God’s plan and he has always been the guiding hand in my journey through life. Sometimes good experiences and sometimes unpleasant experiences occur, but always under his direction. When Mike Maron first told us about HSC, I knew that this was another door that God was putting in front of me. So I guess it is very simple…under God’s direction, I have made a simple choice to give what I could to the mission at HSC and I have never regretted one minute of it.
I have learned that giving quality medical care does not know location or population. It is a universal concept that is the right of all people. I have learned that quality care comes from within the person delivering it. I have also learned that giving people HOPE, even in this narrow scope of medical care, is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
I would not say it has made me a better employee. I would say that it has made me a more appreciative employee; appreciative of the fact that I am associated with an organization as caring and compassionate as Holy Name Medical Center.
—Pete De Graaf, RT(R), CRA
Administrative Director of Radiology
I love to help people. Health is important to maintain throughout the world. I am honored that I was asked to help out and the skill and experience I provide is beneficial. In a majority of the world Ultrasound is the first choice as a diagnostic imaging tool. It does not have any special power or shielding requirements. It is important in point of care decision making as well. I enjoy working in an environment that allows me to do what I love which is help others and teach people to do the same.
I have learned about their culture and the everyday struggle to just survive: the struggle to meet their basic needs. It has made me far more appreciative of what I can sometimes take for granted. Professionally I learn new things constantly about patient care, IT, and the resourcefulness needed to provide and improve patient care.
It has made me more receptive to the needs of whom I deal with in all aspects. Although in this country we are more focused on the business of healthcare; it is a reminder that we are actually in the Health Care business.
—Tom Wall RDMS RVT
Sono Imaging Manager
I was first asked to travel to Haiti by our CEO at Holy Name Medical Center, Mike Maron, to document the hospital in Milot, and the changes that were happening with the support of Holy Name. After my first visit I realized that telling the stories of people of Milot would be the best way to introduce the people at home to the community the hospital was helping. Now, on my eighth trip, my goal is the same — to help raise awareness of how important Hôpital Sacré Coeur is to the people in all of Northern Haiti through using pictures and video.
Personally I have learned that people in this Haitian community surrounding Hôpital Sacré Coeur are the hardest working people I have ever met. The Physical conditions that surround them are unforgiving, the government corrupt, and the technology and infrastructure are decades behind. With the help of dedicated organizations like Holy Name, the Haitians have access to long term support to help them to help themselves. With the knowledge to make improvements and forward progress they will become less reliant on others for help, and will make their way out of the cycle of poverty they have fallen victim to for generations.
Serving in Haiti I have seen a poverty level that I could not ever imagine. Living every day with the primary goal of surviving one more day is a way of life when there is not enough food, no electricity, and no running water. Hôpital Sacré Coeur is the only hospital within several days travel for many of the people who need medical care in Northern Haiti. Experiencing the appreciation the people have for life and each other has made me a better Holy Name employee by allowing me the opportunity to help people on a level that would never be possible without their support both at home and when in Haiti.
Initially I assisted in Haiti because there was presently no one on-site experienced in radiology equipment. When a system goes down it has a far greater impact on patient care than in the U.S., due to the limited number of systems available. Now I assist because it is clear that you have a great impact on patient care and the need is beyond understanding until you go and see the situation for yourself. The people are so appreciative it is almost embarrassing.
I’ve learned to not take the limitless opportunities, conveniences, and what in the U.S. is considered “Basic Necessities” for granted as there are many people in many places where even a clean glass of water is not always available. Professionally I have learned how much I can assist in Haiti and how my assistance, regardless how small, has a huge impact.
I have also learned that it is very rewarding knowing that when you invest in people this allows them to invest in and improve themselves.
My trips to Haiti and the assistance I provide has given me an additional avenue to utilize my skills for the betterment of others and increased my dedication to the core values of HNMC patient care.
—Arthur E. Messick, CRES
I choose to serve in Haiti to have the opportunity to provide care to the underserved population. My focus has always been to volunteer where the need is the greatest, and that includes the many years I served as a medical provider at Eva’s Village in Paterson, NJ which services the uninsured and rehabilitated substance abusers; and at Comprehensive Behavioral Health Care in Hackensack, NJ where medical care is provided to the ambulatory psychiatric patients. From my initial visit in October 2011 to present, I now schedule four volunteer trips per year as I have become involved in cardiac program development with U.S. cardiologists and the HSC medical team, as well as working closely with the Chief Nursing Officer in creating the first Nurse Training Program at HSC.
Personally I have learned what poverty truly is. I realize that the Haitian people will never be as rich as the poorest of poor in America. I have also realized the resilience and wisdom of the Haitian people. There is no task too big or any obstacle that cannot be overcome. I have immersed myself in Haiti and have taken the opportunity to pause to discover the people on a personal level, to appreciate their challenges and struggles, as well as to witness their hope and determination to have a better life. Personally, my investment into the future of Haiti is my way of thanking GOD for all he has given me.
Professionally, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with the great medical and nursing talent from the various aspects of the U.S. The learning opportunities are endless, the shared passion is palpable, and the commitment is unbreakable. Dr. David Butler was my inspiration, and having had the opportunity to be a part of his medical team for several years, I have experienced his genuine passion of caring for those in need. Through this experience, I was truly able to unleash my gift of healing and passion to make a difference in the lives of the people in Haiti.
Serving in Haiti just makes my commitment to stewardship even stronger, my bond with my colleagues tighter, and the determination to achieve the vision and mission of what Holy Name represents more attainable.
—Judith Kutzleb DNP, RN, CCRN, CCA, APN-C
Advanced Practice Professionals
The first couple of trips to Haiti I was invited by Mike Maron. I believe he was testing the waters to see which members of his staff were comfortable traveling to Haiti to support Hôpital Sacré Coeur. After those first couple trips, I (like many of my associates from HNMC) became hooked, and never needed to be asked to go again. I now actively volunteer to travel to Haiti to do whatever I can to help make HSC a better place.
I think the primary attraction for me is the children. I see in their eyes the same love for life, dreams, and innocence that I see in the eyes of children in the U.S. These Haitian children have their whole lives ahead of them, and don’t seem yet to be influenced by all of the poverty and despair around them. They are just children, playing games, having fun, and enjoying each day and each new experience as only children can do. I believe that if I help secure the future of HSC, I am also helping securing the future of Milot. By helping to secure the future of Milot, in some small way, I am helping to secure the future of the children. I want to help keep that sparkle in their eyes alive.
Most everything I have learned in Haiti is on a personal level. There are countless examples of the strength of the human spirit that can be observed while in Milot. I have seen strength and determination in people that I never would have believed existed. I have been amazed at
how thankful people can be, when by all others’ standards they have nothing. I have seen a laborer share his granola bar with a comrade, knowing that neither has eaten in 24 hours. I have seen neighbors help a blind grandmother up the steep road to her hut in the woods. These examples go on and on, and it is only by visiting this beautiful town that you can truly understand the impact of the “Haiti experience.”
I’m impatient by nature, and during my career, have not tolerated delays, mistakes, or inefficient processes very well. However, you MUST be patient when dealing with Haitians. Haitians simply do things at their own pace, and if you can’t accept that, you’ll become very frustrated.
So I suppose my experience in Haiti has made me a more patient and tolerant employee at HNMC — although I’m not sure all my contractors and staff at HNMC would agree!
Vice President, Facilities Maintenance
Holy Name Employees Who Have Worked in Haiti
Albert Amerman — Special Procedures Technician
James Bischoff — Director, Clinical Engineering
Kelly Blodgett — Radiology Technologist
Gregory Bozzo — Special Project
Kevin Brady — Special Project
Cyril Coffey — Sr. Desktop Manager
Gerald Conway — Manager, Transport Fleet
Daren Cousins — Radiology Technologist
Clare Deblasio, RN — Endoscopy
Peter DeGraaf, RT(R), CRA — Administrative Director of Radiology
Aaron Dennison — Special Project
David Duncan, MD — MS Comprehensive Care Center
Donald Ecker — Director, Supply Chain Management
Andrew Fruhschien, NP — Allied Health Professionals
David Galeon — Radiology Technologist
Adam Jarrett, MD, MS, FACHE — Chief Medical Officer, Executive Vice President
Mark Keane — Special Project
Ryan Kennedy, CPA — Vice President, Finance, Chief Financial Officer
Donald Kresker — Special Project
Judith Kutzleb, DNP, RN, CCRN, CCA, APN-C — Vice President, Advanced Practice Professionals
Mark Lillis — Radiology Technologist
Frank Marano — Chief Technology Officer, Information Systems
Michael Maron — Chief Executive Officer & President
Victoria Matthews — Photographer, Videographer
Jenny Mendoza — Radiology Technologist
Angelica Mercado, RN — Emergency Room
Arthur E. Messick, CRES — Clinical Engineering
Steve Mosser — Vice President, Facilities Management
Judith Raymond — Project Development Coordinator, HSC/Haiti
Raymond Reillo — Asst. PACS/RIS Administrator
Jeff Rhode — Multimedia Specialist
Rowan Housen — Special Project
Michael Schmidt, MD — Gastroenterology
Sheryl Slonim, DNP, RN-BC, NEA-BC — Chief Nursing Officer, Executive Vice President, Patient Care Services
Richard Thomas — Construction Project Manager
Kathleen Vander Ploeg, NP — Allied Health Professionals
Martin Wagner — Chief Engineer, Red Seal
Thomas Wall RDMS RVT — Sono Imaging Manager