Seventh-day Adventist leaders and members in Haiti met on the lawn of its most prestigious institution, Hôpital Adventiste d’Haiti (Adventist Hospital in Haiti), to celebrate life and God’s goodness on the 10th year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 12, 2010.
Officials from Loma Linda University Health, Adventist Health International, surgeons, medical staff, and community members gathered for the special ceremony on Jan. 12, 2020, to reminisce on the impact of the hospital in its aid to so many injured throughout the days, weeks, months, and years that followed, as well as share new expansion plans to continue providing top-notch health care services to the community and the nation.
“In these 10 years Haiti has experienced one thing after another and those who have suffered a lot have grown through the challenges,” said Pastor Pierre Caporal, president of the church in Haiti and vice chair of the hospital board. “As a church, we can praise God for His grace and specifically through the quality service the hospital has provided for the people in Haiti thanks to the commitment of those at Loma Linda University, Adventist Health International, missionaries, hospital staff and many more who have partnered to strengthen the health institution throughout the years.”Loma Linda University involvement
President of Loma Linda University Dr. Richard Hart, who saw the birth of the hospital more than 35 years ago and has been instrumental in supporting the institution which falls under Adventist Health International network of church health care institutions, said that even through its financial ups and downs, there was never a time to give up on the institution.
“Haiti has always had a special place in my heart,” said Hart. “It has a special place for Loma Linda University and has a very special place for Adventist Health International. While it is sad to remember [10 years ago] we also want to look to the future, so plans are put in place to continue strengthening the hospital, to send staff here, strengthen the equipment the equipment and to remodel the hospital.”
The most recent upgrades to the hospital during the last three years include state-of-the-art operating theaters, a clinical laboratory, and remodeling of the emergency department as well as an upgraded pediatric unit which is almost completed, said Dr. Hart.
The Adventist hospital has upgraded its physical therapy services during the past 15 months, has increasingly been performing hundreds of orthopedic surgeries every year since 2010, will formalize plans for a residency program with LLU orthopedic surgeons and local residency program in Haiti, and will re-open, its orthotics and prosthetic services in August of 2020.Hospital upgrades and expansion plans
“We have a goal for this hospital in Haiti to make it into a true teaching hospital. Our goal is to work with the [Adventist] university to work with the government of Haiti and work with other Adventist institutions,” said Dr. Hart.
The plan, which has already been approved by the Loma Linda University health board, intends to designate Hôpital Adventiste d’Haiti (HAH) as a global campus of LLU. It would become the second international global campus after the Adventist hospital in Malawi, Africa, said Hart.
Immediate expansion plans include a new communal ward which will provide 24 additional beds. The ward is expected to be completed early in 2021, said HAH’s Chief Executive Officer Jere Chrispens. Chrispens also explain larger plans to build more housing for medical staff and other staff volunteers that serve the hospital for short-term and long-term stays in coordinated efforts with LLU and AHI. Existent duplexes on campus for current volunteer staff have already been remodeled as well as the beautification of the entire hospital and its grounds, he added.
Representative of the Mayor’s Office in Carrefour Harry Jean, who has benefited from several orthopedic surgeries at HAH as well several family members, praised the work of the Adventist institution its clear-cut mission and how instrumental it was after the earthquake. “You do so much for the community, keep providing quality service for the country. Never stop doing so,” said Jean.Hart expressed special appreciation of the partnership with AdventHealth based in Florida for its dedication to help strengthen the program at HAH.
For Dr. Scott Nelson, chief of surgery at HAH and associate professor at LLU, who has been living intermittently in Haiti since the earthquake, and who is leading the thousands of surgeries over the last 10 years as part of the staff at HAH, said the experience at HAH has been transformative.
Dr. Nelson, who is an orthopedic trauma surgeon, was among the first to arrive in Haiti in less than 48 hours after the disaster. “I planned to stay for a short period of time, but it soon became clear that I needed to stay longer,” expressed Dr. Nelson in French during the special ceremony. “I lived here in the hospital for the next six months and have continued my passion for the mission of this hospital and the needs of Haiti ever since.”
“Out of this tragedy came an opportunity to renew the mission of Hôpital Adventiste d’Haiti, to serve the people in need,” said Nelson. “At first this was thousands of victims from that tragic day 10 years ago. Now we continue to grow this mission and serve those who do not have the means to access health care services.”HAH providing quality service
Dr. Nelson said the tragedy provided an opportunity to improve the quality of services at HAH. “We are able to provide services never before possible in Haiti. Some of these services are rare at even the most advanced centers in North America. Our work here has been possible because of the compassion of local hospital staff, generous donors, volunteers, and most importantly because of a mighty God who has blessed us because each and every day.”
Hôpital Adventiste d’Haiti stands as the best emergency hospital in the metropolitan area, according to Haiti’s Ministry of Health, said Franck Geneus, chief of staff at HAH. “The hospital is not the biggest in capacity but it’s in the lead in orthopedic surgery and trauma, and while other emergency rooms turn away patients, they are sent to HAH’s ER,” he explained. Geneus, who has been overseeing as chief medical officer for over eight years, said that during the 10 years since the earthquake, the hospital has treated over 150,000 patients.
Physical therapy services keeps growing
Irma Henry, a graduate from LLU’s physical therapy program, who began mission service at HAH nearly two years ago, said the number of patients receiving physical therapy as in-patient or outpatient care has been growing by the hundreds. According to Henry, in 2017, some 3,417 physical therapy patients were seen; in 2018, there were about 4,000 patients treated, and in 2019, some 4,805 were treated.Moment of silence
“Most of the patients who come in is because of strokes, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian’s being hit, fractures and deformity corrections,” said Henry, who oversees a staff of five in the physical therapy department. She said no two days are the same and she’s had to learn to be flexible and adaptable to what the patients may need most to get to the therapy office. “Many struggle to even get here for their weekly therapies and some need discount for services in order to continue their therapy.”
It’s been an experience that has taught her many lessons, mostly her prayer life in seeking to be a better vehicle of hope and care for all patients. The support and teamwork of her staff and the rest of the medical staff at HAH have made a difference in her professional and spiritual growth, she said.
After a moment of silence was observed for all the victims of the earthquake, Fritz Bissereth, ADRA Haiti director, recounted the more than 4,000 tons of food that were distributed in the months and years after the earthquake. In addition, more than 600 shelters were built for families in Carrefour, and numerous projects were executed that helped provide basic needs to dozens communities while displaced persons tried to rebuild their lives.
Dr. Elie Honore, president of Adventist Health Services Inter-America (AHSIA) who over sees 14 hospitals and 24 clinics in the territory, said HAH’s growth has led the institution to great heights and is considered to be one of the best providers of orthopedic surgery services in Haiti. “HAH has first-class lab services, an excellent emergency department, and an exceptional surgery department that I believe qualifies it for Joint Commission International Accreditation in the next two or three years,” said Honore.Honore thanked the Loma Linda University Health, AHI and its many partners for the continued support throughout nearly four decades of HAH providing health care services in city of Carrefour. “Our partnership with AHI has been a very successful one since 2006,” said Honore. “AHI assisted with salaries of most of the staff, raised a significant amount of money, for equipment and supplies over several millions of dollars, and has been involved in HAH at that level ever since.”
For the last ten years, Dr. Honore explained that on-going management support has been provided by AHI, with staff from Loma Linda University Health, deferred medical appointees, facility management, maintenance and other technical staff, all of whom have been receiving a stipend from AHI. In addition, in 2010, Florida Hospital was another active contributor which adopted the hospital in their Footprint Partnership Program, which today involves the entire AdventHealth corporation. AdventHealth has also been instrumental in upgrading the imaging department at HAH.
Immeasurable blessings for HAH
“The support and blessings have gone beyond my expectations,” said Honore, who was instrumental in the creation of HAH in 1979. In the early 1980s Honore became administrator and medical doctor at HAH and has been instrumental in guiding, directing, and overseeing the hospital through the ups and downs of financial struggles, poor leadership and crisis management throughout the years.“We see that out of tragedy came success, out of pain brings glory to God,” said Dr. Hart. “We look forward to an on-going relationship with this institution into the future.”
Dr. Hart handed a commemorative plaque to HAH officials on behalf of AHI during the special ceremony. The plaque read “Adventist Health International, Celebration of Life and Thanksgiving, For all that the Lord has done for Hôpital Adventiste d’Haiti and His church over the past ten years. ‘Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, His greatness on one can fathom’ Psalm 145:3.”
Hôpital Adventiste d’Haiti is a 52-bed facility, with 180 staff members, three operating rooms, and a laboratory. It offers orthopedic services, internal medicine services, physiotherapy, and urology, as well as pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecological services, mass health education, medical and nursing students internships, continuous medical training and many more services.