Helping Mothers and Infants Survive
Improving maternal and child survival rates in Haiti, which are among the lowest in the world, is at the heart of HAS’s mission to improve the health and well-being of the community it serves. We are committed to the belief that children cannot be healthy if their mothers are not healthy. We therefore view pediatric healthcare and maternal healthcare as inextricably linked.
While most routine prenatal care at HAS is performed in highly effective and cost-efficient community health centers and mobile clinics, the main hospital’s OB/GYN services specialize in high-risk obstetrics.
Neonatal care is provided by the Department of Pediatrics. If clinicians in the community discover a potential pregnancy complication, such as high blood pressure that could indicate the onset of preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension that could lead to fatal consequences for mother and baby if untreated), the expectant mother is referred to the hospital for the remainder of her prenatal care and delivery.
HAS’s reputation for high-quality, compassionate maternity care remains among the best in all of Haiti. As awareness in the community grows regarding the warning signs of preeclampsia and other life-threatening conditions of pregnancy, the demand for high-risk obstetrics services increases at HAS as well. In 2013, due to rising acuity of cases, the occupancy rate averaged 150% in the maternity ward. That this number is even higher than last year’s 118%—already well over capacity—indicates the rate at which expectant mothers are coming to HAS with increasingly complicated cases of conditions such as preeclampsia, placenta previa (a major cause of antepartum hemorrhage), and peripartum cardiomyopathy (weakened heart function surrounding pregnancy).
Patients are also staying longer in the hospital, to ensure full recovery from high-risk deliveries.
This dramatically increasing demand means that doctors and staff are under significantly increased pressure to help patients in need. In 2013, more than 1,000 babies were born in the hospital, a 12% increase over 2012 numbers. Because mothers only deliver their babies at the hospital when their pregnancy is considered high-risk or if a home birth could be life-threatening, this increase represents significant challenges for the hospital. About a third of all deliveries are performed via Cesarian section, which occurs only when a doctor determines that a natural birth would put baby or mother at risk. In 2013, nearly 20% more Cesarian sections were performed than in 2012—but without any comparable increase in staff size or dedicated resources.