The challenges of working in a foreign country where resources are limited and political strife continues to threaten may never allow us to be on autopilot or operating by remote control. Hôpital Adventiste d’Haiti is a complex machine and we are not on a short or easy journey. Strong headwinds slow us down and at times we have to navigate turbulence. Thankfully we have been blessed in so many ways this year which enables us to have the energy and resources needed to move forward in the right direction.
I love construction projects and we have had a lot of them lately. These help to reflect the quality of the care we give our patients and create a work environment that is effective and organized. We also have worked hard on a number of less visible projects this year which involve meetings, spreadsheets, and planning. All of these efforts are continually kept in context with our mission to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ by providing quality care to all classes of people. The end result is measured when you see patients rolling out of the operating room, clinics overflowing with people, and life changing differences taking place in the lives of those we serve.
A brief chronology of events over the last 6 months begins with our return to Haiti in early July several days after the PAP airport opened up. It had been closed for 4 months. C19 in Haiti peaked in late May and has since been relatively dormant. More recently we have only had a trickle of new cases and the per capita death rate is only about 1/50th of that in the US. Travel has been by and large trouble free without any significant restrictions between Haiti and the US. Although less than normal, we have still hosted students, orthopedic residents, and other visitors coming to volunteer at the hospital. Ironically you might be safer coming to Haiti now then if you stay home.
In August Tim and Annika Cleveland moved here from New Mexico to join our team. Tim is an orthotics and prosthetics technician and is restarting our O&P program in collaboration with the Loma Linda University School of O&P. This program previously existed for the first 5 years after the earthquake but eventually lost momentum due to financial constraints. Tim is talented in a number of areas and has been a huge help with our renovation projects and repairing all types of equipment around the hospital. Annika is an ICU nurse and clinical educator. Her skills are being put to use organizing our nursing department and launching our intensive care unit with Jorielyn which will hopefully become a reality in 2021. We have an amazing family of long-term volunteers, each with unique skills. Stay tuned for subsequent blog posts that will introduce you to them.
In September we moved our physical therapy department to the polyclinic building. In the masterplan this building will eventually be replaced by a new hospital ward. It was quite run down, but with a couple weeks of cleaning and painting we fixed it up as a temporary home for rehabilitation services which will include orthotics and prosthetics.
In October the dilapidated modular structure that housed PT was demolished and two shipping containers that were behind the building were moved into the volunteer housing area. Tim is working on turning these into two small container houses. This is all in preparation for the construction of a new rehab complex. We are now finalizing contracts for that project which we hope can start in early 2021.
In November Irma Henry our physical therapist, Corey Fuller LLU ortho surgeon and I took a trip to the Cure Hospital in Kijabe, Kenya. We taught a limb lengthening and deformity correction workshop for the Cure surgeons in order to train them on some specialized techniques using hexapod external fixators. During this time we operated on a number of difficult cases. Overall it was a rich learning experience for all of us. Cure currently operates about 8 children’s surgical hospitals mostly in Africa. Their mission to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God is impressively implemented. It was an inspiration for us to work with their doctors and staff. Although the short trip was a bit exhausting, we returned with a renewed energy, set some new goals, and had a renewed sense of gratitude for some of the unique blessings that we have at our hospital.
Now in December the year is coming to a quick end. JT Haas and my dad came to work on our electrical system and data network. JT is an excellent electrician who has been here a number of times in the past. The complexities of running a mission hospital in the modern world require the expertise of many people. My grandfather working in Africa in the 1930’s only needed to know enough about electricity to turn on lightbulbs. Now we have issues to solve that involve 3 phase electricity, 200KV diesel generators, solar panels, lithium battery packs, inverters, and backup electrical systems to protect sensitive electronics, servers, and imaging equipment.
In addition to the rehab building project and creation of an ICU we have several other significant projects prioritized for the upcoming year. These include relocating the ortho clinic, creating a reception area in the front of the hospital, solar and backup power installation, employee bathhouse, and renovating our nurses stations and patient rooms. In addition, we are working on some less visible projects such as streamlining our stockroom and purchasing processes, quality improvement initiatives, health and wellness programs, and augmenting our spiritual life department. Most importantly we hope to take care of even more patients next year and allow our hospital to grow in volume and quality. This is not a fundraising appeal, but if you are looking for an opportunity to make a meaningful difference then we can help. You can be assured that your donation will be carefully used and bless the lives of many in need. See www.amistadinternational.org and designate Scott and Marni Nelson fund.
As you can see with all the great help and support of generous donors many exciting things are happening at Hôpital Adventiste d’Haïti. I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who are part of this effort. With all the setbacks of 2020 your generosity takes on an even greater significance.
Merry Christmas 🎄