Since I last wrote, there have been many changes at Hôpital Sacré Coeur and more are on the way.
On June 6th, the Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours clinic was dedicated by Haiti’s First Lady, Sofia Martelly; the Archbishop of Cap Haïtien, Mons. Louis Kébreau; Ambassador Tamura Katsuyoshi, representing the Embassy of Japan; and members of the Evans Family, who were instrumental in funding this important addition to our hospital. While this new facility houses only a portion of hospital functions, its inauguration has impacted every aspect of life at Hôpital Sacré Coeur and, like our investment in staff, underscored our enduring commitment to the people we serve.
New Pathology Department
The coming months will see additional enhancements to the clinical capabilities and campus at Hôpital Sacré Coeur, including the establishment of a pathology department, expansion of the pediatrics department, and renovation of the Bon Samaritan Property. Along with the Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours clinic, these improvements to our hospital will help to make Hôpital Sacré Coeur a center of medical excellence not just for the north, but for all of Haiti.
Because access to pathology services is a prerequisite for quality medical care, we are in the process of establishing a pathology department at Hôpital Sacré Coeur. Haiti has a population of nearly 10 million, but only a handful of pathologists — probably no more than 20 for the whole country (and none in the North). This dearth of pathologists has a major impact on health outcomes in Haiti. For example, Haiti has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the world. And there is no good reason for this. Cervical cancer can be prevented — indeed, it can be cured. But only with regular screening, i.e. pap smears, and this requires a pathologist. Likewise, skin cancer can be prevented or controlled with proper testing, but here too, a pathologist is needed to interpret the results. And these are just a few examples. The list of medical interventions that require the involvement of a skilled pathologist is lengthy — none of which can be performed at our hospital because we have no pathologist.
There is no doubt that we can recruit an able, dedicated pathologist to work at Hôpital Sacré Coeur. Indeed, I have already had some preliminary indications that a skilled pathologist in Port-au-Prince is interesting in joining the staff at Hôpital Sacré Coeur. And with some enhancements to our clinical laboratory and training of staff, we could build a strong pathology practice for the hospital. In addition to better serving our patients, a pathology laboratory ought to generate revenue as other hospitals in the north send work to Hôpital Sacré Coeur.
I anticipate that the initial cost of establishing a fully functional pathology capability in the laboratory at Hôpital Sacré Coeur will be $60,000, with annual costs of approximately $40,000.
Because we will need to raise these funds to establish this new department, I am hopeful that readers of Bon Nouvèl will support this initiative.
Pediatrics Unit Expansion
Another area where change will occur in the coming months is Hôpital Sacré Coeur’s pediatrics unit. This unit, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, is currently housed in Pavilion Carlos Reese and Pavilion Marcotte. Years ago, this space was more than sufficient. But today, our hospital sees a rapidly increasing number of children seeking care for all manner of illnesses. The present space is simply insufficient for the need — and has been for some time. It is not uncommon for the pediatrics unit to have a daily census of more than 40 patients — all housed in a 1,500 s/f space, including the nurses’ station and ancillary infrastructure. In view of this space problem, we have been looking for an opportunity to expand the unit.
With the support of the Holy Name Medical Center Foundation, last year we reacquired the Bon Samaritan building, which is immediately adjacent to Pavilion Carlos Reese on the main hospital campus. Plans have now been finalized for the build out of more than 600 s/f of additional inpatient pediatrics space in the renovated Bon Samaritan building. This new facility will open onto a playground for pediatrics patients. The new inpatient capacity combined with playground will give our pediatrics service the best facilities in the north.
This is only one element of the Bon Samaritan building project, which we are planning to fully renovate, including installation of a new roof.
Hospital Administrative Offices & New Cholera Ward
In addition to the new pediatric space, the new Pavilion Bon Samaritan will include the hospital’s admissions office, archives, and statistics department. The relocation of these offices to space immediately adjacent to the new main entrance to the hospital is integral to our strategy to improve patient traffic flow on the main campus. Segregated from these offices and the new pediatrics space will be a purpose built cholera ward, replacing the present ward, which is located off the main courtyard — a high traffic area. The new cholera ward will have a separate entrance from the other parts of Pavilion Bon Samaritan and provide a measure of privacy for cholera patients.
Opportunity to Help
While we have identified several funding sources for the renovation of Pavilion Bon Samaritan, including the new pediatrics space, donors are still being sought for this project. CRUDEM and Hôpital Sacré Coeur must raise more than $60,000 to complete this project.
Your support for the renovation of Pavilion Bon Samaritan will make the difference, so please consider making a contribution to this project. Your investment in a healthier Haiti will have a significant impact.
Prior Investments Pay Off
Improvements to facilities and clinical infrastructure are meaningless without hardworking, talented staff. The investments of the last few years in recruiting, retention and training have paid off.
While Hôpital Sacré Coeur has always had an able, dedicated medical staff, the caliber of medicine practiced at the hospital has never been higher than it is today.
Two recent events illustrate this point.
This summer, a male patient in his thirties presented with cardiac arrhythmia — a condition that had sapped him of strength and left him with poor quality of life. He had been suffering from cardiac arrhythmia for a number of years. Drug therapy had been ineffective and no other treatment options remained, save one: electric cardioversion — essentially shocking the heart back into sinus rhythm. This procedure had never been performed at Hôpital Sacré Coeur. But Dr. Jean-Pierre Brisma, chief of the cardiology service, thought it could be done safely and successfully at Hôpital Sacré Coeur and recommended that the patient undergo the procedure.
The patient agreed and Dr. Brisma, joined by Dr. Reinaldo Gomez Piñero, chief of the intensive care service, performed the cardioversion successfully in the newly renovated Intensive Care Unit. The patient has now been in sinus rhythm for more than a month and is leading a more fulfilling, active life; an important first for Hôpital Sacré Coeur and an indication of the high quality of care that has become commonplace at our hospital.
Several weeks after the cardioversion procedure, another important success story for the hospital occurred in the maternity ward. A 42 year old woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl at another facility in northeast Haiti. After the delivery, she experienced sharp pains in her abdomen and was referred to Hôpital Sacré Coeur. The woman was given a battery of tests, including an ultrasound. This test was performed by our chief sonographer, Yolene Louis-Charles, in our new ultrasonography examination room in the Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours clinic. The ultrasound examination she performed revealed that the patient had been carrying twins: one baby in her uterus — recently delivered — and the other in her abdomen — still present. It was, of course, the abdominal twin that was causing the sharp pains.
After making preparations to transfuse the patient, HSC’s Dr. Justin Geffard, immediately scrubbed for surgery and delivered the second baby.
It is extremely unusual for an abdominal pregnancy to result in a live birth, but that is precisely what happened in this case.
With the right staff and proper facilities, these two cases show that we can provide the tens of thousands of patients who present themselves at our hospital every year with the quality of medicine they deserve. And at Hôpital Sacré Coeur, we believe they deserve the best medicine science has to offer.
The Gospel according to Saint Matthew tells us that in the person of each patient that comes through our gate, Jesus is delivered into our hands. For more than 27 years, this belief has been at the center of all that we do at Hôpital Sacré Coeur. But without the sacrifices you, our donors make, there would be no Hôpital Sacré Couer. Thank you for the unconditional love you have always shown the people we serve.
With the demands of our hospital increasing every day, we need your help now more than ever. Please consider supporting the renovation of Pavilion Bon Samaritan, including the new pediatrics space, and the establishment of Hôpital Sacré Coeur’s pathology service. Both of these projects will help us to continue our mission to care for the least of our brethren.
May God bless you for your commitment to Hôpital Sacré Coeur.
Harold Prévil, M.D.
Chief Executive Officer
How You Can Help
While we expect that the pathology service will produce revenue for the hospital, this will take several years to reach self-sustaining levels and we desperately need donors now to help cover staff costs. The cost to employ a full-time pathologist is expected to be $24,000/year and $8,000/year for a full-time pathology technician.
Several members of the hospital’s staff have already been sponsored (e.g., various physicians, nurses, the staff orthopedist and the chief of housekeeping). These sponsorships have helped us cover other expenses that are always on the increase (e.g., diesel for the generators and pharmaceuticals).
Please consider helping us to cover the staff costs for the new pathology service. Your support for the pathology service will dramatically raise the quality of medical care in the North and literally save lives.
A plaque will be placed in the lab to permanently recognize all those who helped Hôpital Sacré Couer establish the pathology service. If you are interested, please contact Dr. Joni Paterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit this page to make an online donation.