In Haiti, A Hospital Designed with Women in Mind
Upon crossing the doors of Mirebalais University Hospital in Haiti’s central region, it is easy to see how this state-of-the-art facility differs from many in the country. The lobby efficiently directs people to different specialty areas, including a dedicated ward for women’s health.
The American Red Cross provided $5.5 million for the construction and equipment of this hospital, run by Partners in Health and Haiti’s Ministry of Health. Since its opening in March 2013, it has provided much needed healthcare to more than 70,000 people.
This hospital has had an immediate effect in improving the health of infants and mothers. On average, it provides 30 gynecological consultations per day, 90 prenatal care consultations per day, and assists with 250 births per month. In addition, a network of health officers travels to remote communities offering health information, monitoring cases, and referring pregnant or ill people to the hospital.
“If we increase the number of deliveries here, it reduces the number of deliveries outside of the hospital, which will systematically have an effect in reducing maternal mortality,” explains Doctor Christophe Millien, Chief of the hospital’s Obstetrics and Gynecology unit.
For example, when a woman in labor arrives to the emergency room, it is located right next to the delivery room, which in turn is connected to the operating theaters, in case it is necessary to perform a C-section or other surgery.
One of the patients, Elièse Louis, just gave birth to a baby boy, Lovensky. “I have been coming to the hospital since I got pregnant until I gave birth – they’ve taken very good care of me,” she says. “As soon as I was in pain, they took notice and helped me,” she adds. “The hospital offers a very good service. I pray for it to never change.”
Caroline Augustin, another patient, had been unable to conceive. “Every time I got pregnant, I would lose the child.” At Mirebalais, she received urgent surgery to remove a tumor. “The doctor has given me a chance of having children,” she explains.
Mirebalais University Hospital offers free treatment to its patients, ensuring that everyone has access to quality healthcare. Ketna Valcourt came to the hospital for surgery to remove cysts. “In the first hospitals I went to, the doctors were more interested in my money than in my health,” she says. “Here, I have benefitted from all of these services and I only had to pay one dollar for the registration card,” she points out.
The hospital is part of the country’s health system and serves as a teaching hospital to train new Haitian doctors. Since 80% of specialists work in Port-au-Prince, this modern hospital serves as an incentive for doctors to work outside of the capital. “Our philosophy is to promote care for the poorest – that the doctors we train here at Mirebalais understand that we don’t have enough professionals in the rural areas,” explains Doctor Millien.
Mirebalais University Hospital is also part of a global consortium of hospitals, through Partners in Health. Its X-ray and CT scan systems are linked with hospitals in the United States that help with diagnoses, and its operating rooms can connect with other centers around the world to help with teaching.
Since the 2010 earthquake, the American Red Cross has been helping communities and families to build back healthier. This includes making significant investments to prevent and treat diseases such as malaria and measles; supporting the operation of hospitals, mobile clinics and treatment centers; and funding the construction of several medical facilities that are or will be caring for thousands of people, such as Mirebalais University Hospital and Saint Michel Hospital in Jacmel.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.