Dear friends of the orthopedic care center medi for help and the Albert Schweitzer Hospital
Unfortunately, the corona pandemic is also reaching Haiti.
The first infections were detected at the end of February. For the first time in 11 years, the gates of the medi for help workshop had to be closed for several weeks.
The risk of the virus spreading rapidly is particularly high in Haiti.
Many people cannot comply with the exit restrictions because they would otherwise have no income.
Because of pre-existing chronic diseases such as malnutrition, infections (tuberculosis, etc.), the course of the disease is much more severe than with us.
The corona pandemic hits the poorest hardest! However, we were also concerned about the particularly endangered personnel on site. Thanks to the support of our partners, protective clothing and masks could be procured quickly.
To protect the patients and our team, the orthopedic workshop was closed. The focus shifted to the establishment of a Covid-19 center.
Due to the quality of medical care and experience during the cholera epidemic (over 7100 hospitalizations), the Haitian government has appointed the HAS as a Covid-19 center. The former cholera house outside the hospital has been renovated and converted to accept corona infected patients.
In order to limit contact and possible transmission of the virus, all suspected cases are referred to the Covid center for evaluation and treatment.
In early March, a COVID-19 emergency plan was activated to mitigate the effects of the Corona Virus
The emergency response included the following measures:
Treatment and Testing
To date, 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been treated with 9 deaths. HAS does not have its own test offer. The Haitian Ministry of Health has assigned a health officer to manage the testing process for all suspected cases.
Community Explanation and Containment
With a tremendous amount of fear and stigma associated with the Coronavirus in rural Haiti, the HAS deployed a robust communication and awareness strategy. Community health workers received thorough COVID-19 training and used megaphones to inform local and neighboring communities to exchange messages to improve hygiene and increase social distancing. Emergency protocols and containment procedures have been enforced at the hospital and orthopedic care center to reduce transmission of the virus.
Additional hand washing stations in the hospital, mfh supply center, on the campus and in the surrounding communities have been installed and the availability of tiltable water containers or hand washing devices that enable hands-free hand washing has been increased. More than 300 hand washing stations and 139 tiltable water containers have been installed in and around the service community.
Surface Disinfectant and Sanitizer
COVID-19 created critical shortages of bleach and all other surface sanitizers on the local market, leaving hospitals and health centers all over Haiti in dire need. Donor-funded upgrades to HAS’ water system included the addition of a Mixed Oxidants (MIOX) water purifying system which has been repurposed to manufacture surface disinfectant 2.5 times more effective than chlorine/bleach. A cost-effective process, sanitizer is produced at $3/gallon and in quantities of up to 200 gallons/day. HAS has supplied sanitizer throughout its own health system and also to the local police precinct, churches and schools. Since March, HAS has distributed over 3,000 gallons of sanitizer.
Oxygen therapy, along with fever control and hydration, is the main treatment for COVID-19 in Haiti. HAS long had the ability to produce and store oxygen on site, but the oxygen generators age. Thanks to the generosity of the partners, Caris Foundation and USAID, a new high-capacity oxygen generator has been installed that will ensure a reliable supply of oxygen for COVID treatment and other needs for years to come.
Continuation of basic utility services
The community’s activities had also come to a standstill due to the pandemic. With the Ministry of Health’s new health regulations and procedures coupled with the HAS ‘newly established COVID-19 protocols, the plumbing, water and hygiene program activities were fully resumed in May 2020.
While the treatment and containment of COVID-19 was in the foreground, the orthopedic care center medi for help provided only reduced but important health services after reopening in compliance with all the measures of the emergency plan. We are facing significant changes to which the supply center has to adapt.
The poor economic situation in Haiti had already led to a massive devaluation of the local currency (gourdes) of around 20% in the previous year.
The decline in donations brought planned financing to a halt.
The violent uprisings of the political opposition continued throughout the year. Even now most of the roads are blocked; Transporting food, fuel and even drinking water is often impossible. We are all the happier that a container with orthopedic components has arrived in Haiti. Thanks to a generous donation from the Össur company, it is still possible to maintain the prosthetic supply.
Relocation of the supply region
The care of leg amputees in Port-au-Prince has continued to establish itself. Our workshop, which was set up there in 2012/13 with partners and handed over to the St. Vincent’s Center for children with disabilities, as well as other workshops, took over the new and aftercare.
This saves the patient the long and arduous journey to Deschapelles to the medi for help care center. This resulted in a new focus on the immediate region around the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer.
Changes in care – Increase in accidents with children and adolescents
Serious accidents involving children reach us every day. Motorized traffic is increasing.
Precautions like helmets … are missing. With over 4,000 inpatient treatments per year, pediatrics is the largest at the hospital. As the number of accidents continues to increase, an expansion of trauma surgery is planned. The team at the mfh workshop has to adjust to all these changes.
A country does not come to rest
This year too, the supply trend reflects the difficulties Haiti has to contend with. In addition to the politically motivated street fights of recent years and the corona pandemic that has now arisen, the success of our efforts to have an orthopedic supply set up in the capital Port-au-Prince and handed over to St. Vincent is also becoming increasingly clear.
During the months between the closure of the care center and the decline in patient visits due to the year’s exit restrictions, we treated a total of 141 patients. This is almost half the expected amount. Over the entire supply period 2010-2020, we have a total of 4,039 new treatments with 7,333 patient visits and are considered one of the largest orthopedic care centers in the Caribbean.
The demand for orthotic care has increased significantly in proportion. Our outstanding Haitian technicians are trained, the change of the focus of care to post-traumatic joint injuries is a goal for the near future so that a complete care can be offered here as well.
Another reason for this increase, in addition to the increase in traffic accidents, is the strong partnership between the orthopedic care center and the physiotherapy department of the HAS. By participating in the morning rounds of talks, the physiotherapists can determine for which patients orthopedic care would be helpful and refer them to the care center.
Because of the political uncertainty, many aid agencies have already left Haiti. The need for the people is therefore even greater.
However, we can only continue our numerous programs and projects with your help. Thank you very much for your support and solidarity!
Your medi for help Team