Mrs. Adam contrasted what is and what could be. She said that the goal of the First Lady is to have Haitians have access to healthcare everywhere in the country. Since the President’s term is five years, they have less than four years to accomplish this goal, and she and the First Lady are impatient to move it faster.
The First Lady adopted the Isaie Jeanty Women’s Hospital as a very visible example of their efforts to improve healthcare. This hospital has been open 65 years and has been in decline since the mid eighties. They have 70 beds and birth an average of 25 babies each day with about 25% of the births caesarean. The hospital is located across the street from Citi Soliel – the largest tent city and biggest slum in Port au Prince. A major reason for the high rate of caesarean births is poor pre-natal care – a target for improvement in this OB-GYN hospital. She paraphrased the First Lady that “children need to come to life in a better place than what they have today”.
She is focused on standards, leadership and details. She makes unannounced visits to learn the reality. She has replaced personnel, scolds when she learns that bathrooms aren’t working and promises to fix them, is raising budget to add running water and air conditioning to the post-delivery ward and is seeking donations of commercial washing machines so the new mothers can have sheets.
Mrs. Adam brings enormous leadership, energy, and creativity to improve healthcare for all Haitians. She works in tandem with the Ministry of Health, and she relates to other non-government healthcare providers.
She was immediately responsive today when she learned St. Damien’s Hospital had no non- sterile gloves and she did have them in her warehouse where she consolidates and distributes medical supplies and equipment donated to government hospitals. She has also obtained narcotic relief for the children who are being treated for cancer at St Damien’s, a private hospital.
She immediately responded on this past Sunday when an auto accident took down the electricity at Isaie Jeanty Women’s Hospital and the generator ran out of diesel fuel. Before she learned of this catastrophe and took action to fix it, four babies died.
Mrs. Adam is realistic and inpatient for improvement – she said “This should not happen an hour from the States.” She has the backing of the First Lady and many resources at her disposal. But she has a tremendous challenge to bring new thinking to the healthcare system in Haiti and limited time to accomplish huge changes in culture and practice. She will need all the support she can get to accomplish her noble goals.
By Sue Sprunk, Chair of MedShare’s Western Region Council