Project Medishare prepares opening of new maternal health center (re-post)

Project Medishare for Haiti is a nonprofit based in Florida that was founded in 1994 by Dr. Barth Green and Arthur Fournier. The organization is dedicated to sharing its human and technical resources with its Haitian partners in the quest to achieve quality healthcare and development services for all. As you can imagine, their mission has become ever more vital since the 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010.

To support Project Medishare’s opening of a new maternal clinic in the Central Plateau, MedShare recently donated equpiment. Medishare’s Jennifer Browning wrote a great post detailing the project on their blog, and I wanted to share it here:

Project Medishare prepares opening of new maternal health center

By Jennifer Browning

Dr. Gerarde Mondesir conducts a prenatal exam for 24-year-old Jesula Alexander at the clinic in Marmont. Upon opening, the maternal health center will provide women in the Central Plateau a full package of women’s health services including reproductive health education, family planning, along with HIV/AIDS counseling and testing. "I am so happy about the maternal health center opening," Alexander said. "I hope it is ready by the time I have my baby so that I don’t have to travel far to have my baby and receive healthcare. I can have my baby here." Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Jean Vasula, 17, sits with her 2-month-old son Maté at the clinic in Marmont waiting to see the doctor. Here doctors see everything from pediatrics to adult medicine and for now, even provides family planning as well as prenatal and postnatal exams.

Thanks to the Greig Family, who completely funded the construction of the Maternal Health Center, and MedShare who donated all of the medical equipment, women in the Central Plateau are closer to having access to a full package of women’s health services including reproductive health education, family planning, along with HIV/AIDS counseling and testing.

A grant provided by Ralph Lauren is assisting with upstart costs such as staff salaries. Currently, Project Medishare is recruiting and interviewing midwives, nurses and other personnel for the center.

Vasula said while she was pregnant with Maté, she visited the Marmont clinic each month for her prenatal care. She said she is excited that there will be a clinic dedicated to women.

“The new maternal health clinic will be so good for [women in the community],” Vasula said. “Right now, here in Marmont we have to depend on the hospital in Thomonde. If we need a test, we have to go to Thomonde; or if we have any complications we have to go to Thomonde or maybe even further in Hinche. I am glad the maternal center is opening here because it will serve the whole community and all women here will have access.”

In Haiti, and particularly in the Central Plateau, the high rate of maternal mortality remains a challenge. Haiti’s statistics regarding maternal mortality are among the highest in the Caribbean: 1 out of every 37 female deaths is linked to a high-risk pregnancy.

Haiti’s poor suffers by far the highest maternal mortality ratio in the Western Hemisphere. According to UNICEF, out of 100,000 live births, 670 Haitian women died of pregnancy-related causes in 2006.

Familiar with complications that can come with childbirth, Vasula hopes by having a maternal center in the community, less women will lose their babies during birth.

“It will help because with me, I had trouble during my pregnancy,” Vasula, who had her baby in Thomonde, said. “If I had my baby at home like many women do here, I would have lost my baby.

Vasula said when she was going into labor with Mate, she was at home with a mid-wife, but there were complications. Her family found a way to get her to Thomonde where she eventually had a C-section. While the maternal health center won’t be performing surgeries like C-sections, the medical staff there will be able to monitor the delivery and send women like Vasula to Thomonde for emergencies.

Gillef Mieloudes, 33, gave birth to her son Yadley at home. She said she was lucky that she didn’t have any complications.

Mieloude who lives in Denizrad situated between Thomonde and Marmont went to Thomonde for her prenatal checkups each month and planned to give birth at home, with the help of a midwife. But by the time the midwife showed up she had already had the baby.

She said she is happy knowing the maternal health center will open soon so that women in her community will have the services they need.

“When the maternal health center opens, if any women have complications with their pregnancy then they will know that there is a place for us to go,” Mieloude said. “Right now women in my community rely on Thomonde for the things that we need when it comes to our health. It will be so nice to have a place that is for women only.

The new maternal health center will be equipped with a full laborator, incubators, examination and observation rooms thanks to a generous equipment donation provided by MedShare. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Jacque Balde, an auxillary nurse for the Ministry of Health at the Marmont Clinic said there is a lot of interest in the maternal health center.

For now women go to the clinic in Marmont to receive women’s health services, and the new maternal health center will allow the Marmont clinic to focus more on pediatric and adult medicine.

“This is important that the people here will have such service, a good service in their home in Marmont,” he said. “When the maternal health center opens it will allow us to organized the Marmont clinic better so we can focus on pediatric and adult medicine.”

Balde is all too aware of complications that can come with childbirth. A few months ago, is wife suffered from eclampsia and gave birth to their son two months early.

“She gave birth at Hinche but there were no incubators,” he said. “They wrapped up our baby and kept him close to my wife, but at seven months you need an incubator. When I saw the incubator at the maternal health center it made me think of my son. If there had been an incubator at Hinche, it could have saved the life of my child.”

As the field coordinator for Marmont, Balde also organizes Project Medishare’s community health agents to go out into the community. As soon as he gets word that the center will open, it will be his job to educate the community health agents to let people know about the maternal health center and about the updated medical equipment available for the women in the community.

Project Medishare internist, Dr. Gerarde Mondesir said a big problem right now is that many of the women come to the Marmont clinic for their prenatal follow-up, but then they will go give birth somewhere else like Thomonde or in Hinche.

“The doctors and midwives there have never seen them before and have no clue about how their pregnancy has been the past nine months,” she said. “I think that it is important to have a maternal health center here, because if we detect a possible problem during their prenatal visit, we will know it and it will be on their file when they come in to give birth. We will be able to follow-up with them better because all of their care is happening in one place.”

Dr. Mondesir said it is also essential that women in Marmont will have a center in their community where they can give birth. She hopes by having the maternal health center, less women will have their babies at home. And she feels this will help decrease the maternal mortality rate in the community of Marmont.

“Sometimes the women live very far and getting them on the road and then all the way to Hinche or all the way to Thomonde is very difficult for them,” Dr. Mondesir said. “When the women realized how long it will take to get to the hospital, they just prefer to stay at home and have the baby there. I think that the maternal health center will also help decrease the maternal mortality rate here in this community. While there will be some mothers who still have their babies at home because they can’t make it here in time, I believe more women will come here knowing that there is a place close and someone here who can help them.”

The maternal health center is scheduled to open this spring.

We are proud to support such a wonderful mission, and look forward to working alongside Project Medishare on other projects in the future. Be sure to visit Project Medishare’s site to learn more about their mission (and support it), and their blog to read the lastest news.

2010 in Review: A Year of Growth and Accomplishment

MedShare Volunteers in 2010: Van Hout Family

The drop of a ball that signals a new year often brings with it reflection, appreciation, and excitement at the prospect of things to come. For MedShare, 2010 was a year of growth and accomplishment, and we’d like to take a moment to share and celebrate our achievements that you helped make possible.

Whether you support MedShare through countless volunteer hours, monetary gifts, product donations, being a community ambassador, or in another way, we want to take a moment to thank you as the MedShare mission cannot be sustained without you.

Infrastructure reorganization saw the expansion of staff in the Western Region and the restructuring of current staff, both of which allowed MedShare to increase efficiency in many areas; one example was being able to respond quickly to the earthquake in Haiti.

Speaking of Haiti, MedShare was able to respond quickly due to our nimbleness, capabilities, and previous working relationship with the Haitian government and hospitals. One year later, MedShare has shipped 28 40-foot containers filled with more than 164 tons of life-saving medical supplies and equipment to Haiti, and supplied 83 medical mission teams with more than 14,000 pounds of medical supplies for treating the sick and injured.

MedShare continued to be supported by a strong Board and expanded its local presence in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Atlanta by growing representation on both Regional Councils, laying the groundwork for the organization to flourish. Each Council took on a leadership role and raised funds to sponsor containers of medical supplies and equipment, one to the Kingdom of Tonga and the other to Mali, two of the most desperate places on Earth. Board and Regional Council members also participated in the MedShare trip to Ghana, where they visited beneficiaries of MedShare containers and saw firsthand how MedShare makes a difference.

One of our main concerns at MedShare is, of course, reducing environmental impact. In addition to redirecting tons of medical supplies from landfills each year, we’ve also made changes to our warehouses in both the Southeast and West this year. Both were outfitted with motion-activated lights, saving each facility from needlessly wasting energy. The West has low-flow toilets, and the Southeast will begin installing solar panels next month.

Our communities recognized us for going green: MedShare was selected the winner in the “Green Giving” category by Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2010 Environmental Awards, and the Western Region was named a Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) winner by the CalRecycle Waste Reduction Award Program.

In December, we exceeded our goal of 10 containers by shipping 14, and closed the calendar year with a total of 101 shipments – a 33% increase over the same period in 2009.

Perhaps one of the most exciting things on the horizon for MedShare in 2011 is our potential for expansion. Now that the economy has stabilized somewhat and MedShare has developed a stronger base of support both nationally and in existing locations, the Board of Trustees and senior staff are looking for other cities in the U.S. where we can expand the MedShare mission. This process is a prudent and thoughtful one that has been led and facilitated by Accenture to help MedShare achieve the highest possible performance and leverage for the resources at our disposal.

Your support is the fuel for the MedShare mission. During a very difficult economic time for our nation and the world, the MedShare mission has grown substantially. It would not happen without YOU. We are so grateful for everything you’ve done, and look forward to sharing the ride with you in 2011.

(This story is an excerpt from our January e-newsletter. To read the entire newsletter – featuring stories MedShare’s trip to Ghana and a volunteer profile on Deborah Printz – click here.)

Charity Navigator: Haiti One Year Later

A walker donated by MedShare gives a young Haitian amputee the ability to walk again

Yesterday, January 12th, 2011, marked the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquakes in Haiti. To mark the occasion, Charity Navigator, America’s premier independent charity evaluator, created a special section on their website to commemorate the significant outpouring of generosity from donors across America.

MedShare was one of the charities highlighted in the report; below are the questions and answers that appeared highlighting how we’ve served our neighboring country as they continue to recover.

What has your charity done in Haiti?

Thanks to the outpouring of support from donors and volunteers, MedShare has shipped the equivalent of 27 tractor-trailer-sized containers filled with over 154 tons of specifically-requested, life-saving medical supplies and equipment to needy hospitals in Haiti. We have supplied 83 medical mission teams with more than 14,000 pounds of medical supplies for treating the sick and injured in Haiti. We have also sent engineering teams to repair hundreds of pieces of medical equipment damaged by the earthquake and to train technicians from around the country to do the same. More information can be found at www.medshare.org/haiti.

What are the outcomes (immediate results) of your efforts in Haiti?

17 tractor-trailer sized shipments of medical supplies and equipment were sent by MedShare in the first two weeks following the earthquake. An additional 10 containers have been sent to aid in the recovery/rebuilding effort. These supplies and equipment were used by our vetted hospital and in-country charity partners like Partners in Health and Project Medishare to offer free medical services to thousands injured in the earthquake as well as basic services in its aftermath. MedShare’s engineering team travelled to Haiti and fixed hundreds of pieces of damaged equipment and trained technicians throughout the country. Please click on www.medshare.org/haiti for videos chronicling our impact.

Based on your outcomes thus far, has your charity adjusted its course of action to improve the results?

As the relief efforts have moved into a longer term recovery that is not happening as quickly as anyone would want, MedShare has sent teams to Haiti to streamline our already-successful logistics process, conduct a needs assessment at our in-country hospital partners and clinics and expedite customs clearances. The needs for medical supplies and equipment for a longer term recovery differ from those needed in an immediate relief effort. MedShare prides itself on customizing our shipments for the recipient and we take great care to understand their needs with the aim that nothing we sent is diverted or wasted. For more information on our ongoing efforts, click on www.medshare.org/haiti.

Is your charity planning to continue to provide assistance to Haiti in the coming months and years? If so, please explain your plans.

MedShare supported 36 projects in Haiti prior to the earthquake and we plan to continue to work with our in-country hospital and charity partners in the coming months and years. We have developed a good reputation among our partners in Haiti and want to be there for them as long as they need us. Donors can learn more at http://www.medshare.org/haiti. Donors can also click on http://www.medshare.org/shipments where they can view our interactive map of shipments to Haiti over our 11-year history.

What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges facing the people of Haiti in the years to come? Do you have suggestions for how to address these challenges both via your own organization and through the efforts of others?

Haiti has long been the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and faces many challenges. The greatest needs in Haiti are a better resourced and more effective government, a completely rebuilt infrastructure (this was the case before the earthquake), and access to education, healthcare, and basic needs. In short, for Haiti to be successful in the long-term, a context for private investment and industry development must be created as has been done in other developing nations. MedShare can play a strong role in elevating the standards for medical care through the provision of medical supplies and equipment to support the re-building of the healthcare infrastructure.

Have you been able to coordinate and pool your efforts with other organizations?

MedShare is a supply chain organization providing medical supplies and equipment. Thus, we supply other direct-service organizations, hospitals and clinics in Haiti and around the world who offer healthcare to the poor. Some of our partners in Haiti include:

  • Partners In Health
  • St. Damien Pediatric Hospital
  • St. Nicholas Hospital
  • Hopital Bienfaisance de Pignon
  • Port-Au-Prince Triage Hospital
  • CURE Haiti
  • Family Outreach Ministries
  • Archdiocese of Port-Au-Prince
  • Haitian Timoun Foundation
  • CSI Ministries Clinic
  • Hopital Sacre Coeur
  • Grace Children’s Hospital
  • Adventist Hospital
  • Diquini Jimani Hospital (in Dominican Republic on Haitian boarder)
  • St. Francis de Sales Hospital
  • Project Medishare

We’d like to give a special thanks to Charity Navigator for highlighting us. To read their report in it’s entirety, click here.

How MedShare is Helping Haiti: 28 Containers

Location of Pignon, Haiti

 

Last January, Haiti suffered from a devastating earthquake that claimed over 250,000 lives and left more than a million people living in makeshift camps. Crisis struck again in late October in the form of an ongoing cholera epidemic, which has sickened over 7,700 people and claimed 500 lives. Now, this weekend’s Hurricane Tomas caused wind damage and widespread flooding that has disrupted even more lives.

What is MedShare doing to help?

Staff Members at Hopital Bienfaisance de Pignon with a newborn baby

We’ve turned our attention to providing a response by sending customized shipments of medical supplies to Haiti, a country where we have worked extensively in the past eleven years. Thanks to the outpouring of support from donors and volunteers, we have shipped 28 forty-foot containers filled with over 150 tons of life-saving medical supplies and equipment to needy hospitals in Haiti.

Hopital Bienfaisance de Pignon

The most recent container shipped to Haiti from MedShare, the 28th this year, was shipped on Friday, October 29, 2010, from MedShare’s Southeastern Regional Distribution center. The recipient was the Hopital Bienfaisance De Pignon in Pignon, Haiti. In normal circumstances, this is a small charity hospital with about 65 in-patient beds.  Since the earthquake, thousands of injured patients have flooded through the hospital doors seeking emergency care, and the hospital has been converted into a regional trauma center. This marks the third container they’ve received from MedShare this year; the first two containers, sent in January and May, carried emergency relief medical supplies and equipment for the hospital. With the help of our partners at Catholic Medical Mission Board who procured the bed donations for this shipment,  the container shipped on Oct. 29 carried 50 beds, mattresses, and 6 laptop computers. These items which will be put to immediate use caring for earthquake victims and low-income families in Haiti.

Hopital Bienfaisance de Pignon staff with MedShare's Senior Biomedical Engineer Eben Armstrong

In August 2010, MedShare’s Senior Biomedical Engineer Eben Armstrong was able to visit Hopital Bienfaisance de Pignon. Eben worked on-site to train Haitian medical staff members on how to use and repair biomedical equipment, and left extremely impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the staff.

Please visit the Hopital Biengaisance de Pignon website and blog for photos, videos, and facts about this hospital.

Visit our Help for Haiti page for information about MedShare’s ongoing efforts to support Haiti in its ongoing recovery from the earthquake and the cholera outbreak. To help, click here.