New Haitian Hospital Leads to New Doctors and Renewed Hope

  • Fourteen medical residents will receive specialized training in pediatrics, internal medicine, and general surgery.
    Fourteen medical residents will receive specialized training in pediatrics, internal medicine, and general surgery. Dr. Michelle Morse/ Partners In Health
  • Dr. Ketly Altenor, 27, graduated from Haiti's state medical school and is now a pediatrics resident at University Hospital.
    Dr. Ketly Altenor, 27, graduated from Haiti's state medical school and is now a pediatrics resident at University Hospital. Photo courtesy of Dr. Altenor and Partners In Health
...My training will certainly be used to improve the quality of health of my country, and help the most vulnerable to get better care and have a better quality of life.

Less than four years after an earthquake devastated Haiti’s health care infrastructure, the Mirebalais University Hospital—run by Partners in Health and constructed with $5.5 million from the American Red Cross—is hosting its first round of medical residents and shepherding the country’s next generation of doctors.

The 14 medical residents—half men, half women—represent Haiti’s burgeoning recovery from the January 2010 earthquake. Hailing from all parts of the country, the residents will play an essential role in rebuilding Haiti’s medical capacity.

During the disaster, many Haitian hospitals, three universities, the country’s main nursing school and primary midwifery school were all severely damaged or destroyed.

Buildings weren’t the only thing taken away by the earthquake: a significant number of Haiti’s medical professionals, as well as up-and-coming doctors and nurses, were lost. This was compounded by the reality that even before the earthquake struck, many of Haiti’s educated medical professionals chose to pursue careers outside of Haiti.

The Mirebalais University Hospital’s medical residents are working alongside Partners in Health to repair the pipeline of doctors in the country. Thanks to state-of-the-art technology, the residents are learning from local doctors and visiting medical professionals. They are receiving hands-on training in pediatrics, general surgery and internal medicine, and will complete curriculum on social medicine and the root causes of disease. The residents will benefit from built-in cameras that transmit live video feed of surgeries to international hospitals for learning and consultation.

Dr. Mariline Menager, 28, told Partners in Health, “I feel ready and very excited to start my program. I’m glad to be part of this experience because when you do residency you should have the best. University Hospital is one of the best places to study because we have a good environment to work and learn in, with all the possibilities for the people to get the treatment they need. My training will certainly be used to improve the quality of health of my country, and help the most vulnerable to get better care and have a better quality of life.”

The 300-bed hospital, which opened last spring, expects to receive up to 500 outpatients each day from the surrounding area. Features such as separate labor and delivery, emergency, women’s health and pediatric wards provide room for physicians to carry out advanced procedures and specialized patient monitoring, including neonatal, pediatric and adult intensive care units. The hospital is also home to a pharmacy, dental clinic and mental health clinic.

The largest completely solar-run hospital in the world—full of local art and salvaged church pews—the Mirebalais facility is an innovative, community-driven place for the medical residents to learn. After an initial registration fee of about $1.15, all services at the hospital are free to patients.

As Haiti continues to rebuild, it will benefit from the resiliency and self-determination of its own people. Like the rest of the country, the hospital’s doctors-in-training are eager to be part of the recovery. After all, the residents will one day become teachers themselves—ensuring that Haiti’s medical capacity is strong for future generations.

Tags: Haiti.
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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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