First, thank you so much for helping us to raise money to support Hôpital Sacré Coeur in Milot, Haiti. I have been going to the hospital since 2008 and have made more than 10 trips, including 2 in the aftermath of the earthquake. The number of medical and non-medical volunteers from the Washington, D.C. area, who have served at Hôpital Sacré Coeur, is not only impressive — it is quite humbling! On our plastic surgery team alone, we have an internist, pediatric anesthesiologist, general surgeon/breast surgeon, plastic surgeons, operating and recovery room nurses and physicians’ assistants. We usually treat patients with breast cancer, cancer of the head and neck, cleft lip, burns and other problems.
Washington, D.C. area physicians have gone to the hospital for many years beginning with John Collins Harvey, PhD, MD, Dick Perry, MD, Jim Ronin, MD, and Joe Swift, MD. There are many in the area now who continue to go. Dr. William Battle and Dr. Rob Freishtat have an ongoing cardiology program for new mothers and children. (There is a surprisingly high incidence of cardiac problems in postpartum mothers.) Dr. Joe Giere has an ongoing program to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer, which is very common in Haiti.
Each team that travels to Milot does so at their own expense. Like all volunteer teams, we willingly take a week or more off work (often our scheduled vacation times) and invariably arrive at the hospital loaded down with supplies — either donated or ones we personally purchased.
Why travel at such expense and inconvenience? Because we care. We know firsthand that the work we do makes a significant difference in the lives of people; people who are like you and me, except the Haitians live in a country with very limited material resources. Even so, I daresay, there is not a volunteer among us who does not return home feeling they have received way more than they have given. The tremendous resilience, wherewithal and strong faith, among the Haitians I have been honored to work with and care for, has not only inspired me, but taught me so much about the brilliance and strength of the human spirit.
While the hospital might seem unimpressive by our U.S. standards, I have always been amazed by all that the staff can accomplish with what little they have. And The CRUDEM Foundation and Hôpital Sacré Coeur continually work to solve any problems or fill any gaps as they arise. The “Can Do” spirit is certainly alive and well in Milot! Right now if I see a woman with a suspected breast cancer and perform a biopsy, it takes 3 months to get the result. It is sent to Port-au-Prince, where there are 10 pathologists for all 10 million people in Haiti. We have now hired a pathologist for the hospital in Milot. Some of the donations received will go towards equipment for him to be able to read slides and make a diagnosis. This is but one of countless examples of how your donations are put to good use.
I am so confident about the importance of the need for Hôpital Sacré Coeur and the way the funds are spent — 100% of your donation goes to patient care programs, thanks to a generous agreement with a partner who assumes all fundraising and administrative costs — that I agreed to chair the Washington, D.C. Stay-at-Home Gala. If we all pitch in, we will raise an impressive amount of funds to make sure the fine and deserving people in the north of Haiti receive quality healthcare.
And speaking of pitching in, I want to thank all the members of the Stay-at-Home Gala committee. An impressive number of Washington, D.C. area residents stepped up to assume honorary and general committee memberships. I particularly want to thank Sue DuFour who had the idea for the Stay-At-Home gala; Kitty Colbert who designed our beautiful invitation; Most Reverend Mario Dorsenville, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington who has given us his support and expertise in fundraising and, Monsignor John Enzler who guided us through the whole process. I also want to thank each and every committee member who donated their time, good thoughts and contacts. Together, we built a winning team!
And that’s what all of us involved with The CRUDEM Foundation and Hôpital Sacré Coeur do: we build a winning team to improve lives and save lives in Haiti.
Albert Fleury, Jr., M.D.