During the darkest hours after the 2010 quake, Hôpital Sacré Coeur was confronted with numerous difficult decisions, truly those concerning life or death. Two very tired physicians, Dr. Tim Finley and Dr. Alan Gwertzman slumped into plastic chairs on the Mission House porch after a very long day of frantic procedures as they went about saving life after life of those who were literally plucked from the under the ruble in Port Au Prince. It was past eleven PM as other dog tired medical volunteers made their way into make shift bunks under suspended mosquito nets.
But Tim and Alan did not want sleep just yet. There was something eating at them. There were two critically ill people, a young woman and a young man who needed to be placed on a respirator while their injuries could be stabilized. They had to make a “Sophie’s choice”, a decision regarding who would get the bulk of our dwindling oxygen supply based upon their judgment as to which one would have the best chance to survive their injuries. The hospital’s traditional oxygen supply was supplied from a facility in Port Au Prince and in the immediacy after the disaster, communications and transportation were non-existent making the next day shortages a real calamity that had no viable solution.
Both men were visibly pained and torn by this humbling responsibility. They were quiet for a while and then in hush tones, weighed the evidence and played the unnatural role of the Supreme Being.
In the days immediately following that consultation, the two doctors took a vow to find a solution to this unnecessary shortage of what is a common and easily available, life giving substance in the US. They researched, solicited funds, procured and built with the help and generosity of Holy Name Medical Center, a state of the art oxygen manufacturing facility right here in Milot at Höpital Sacré Coeur.
The road from concept to reality was long and rife with many setbacks and difficulties. But the memory of that fateful night drove these fine humanitarians into action and strengthened their resolve to make their idea a reality.
Fast forward three years and we find that the original installation has been upgraded and improved to allow for the possible sale and distribution of oxygen to other healthcare facilities in the Northern Department. This initiative is part of a broader approach of sharing the developing assets with a larger base of need and looking to build a more sustainable profile for our hospital. With thanks, Bon Nouvèl would like to recognize a recent HNMC work crew headed by Steve Mosser, Vice President of Facilities Management, for completing the installation of a second high pressure compressor which doubled the facilities capacity to produce bottled oxygen. In addition, they installed various building improvements to the oxygen plant which will add years to the successful operation of this valuable asset.