DESCHAPELLES, HAITI – One of the most well established hospitals in Haiti has named Haitian internist Herriot Sannon, M.D., to lead its medical team.
Dr. Sannon, who earned his medical degree at Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and completed a fellowship at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is a native and citizen of Haiti, and is the first native-born Haitian in many years to be appointed Medical Director of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS). Dr. Sannon directs a staff of 226, including 13 full-time physicians and other healthcare professionals who provide 24/7 care, including trauma care, surgery, and treatment of patients with severe, acute malnutrition.
“Dr. Sannon has gained a wide variety of experience domestically and internationally,” said HAS CEO Louis Martin. “He also brings a Haitian perspective to the job, which is invaluable in a hospital where 96 percent of team members are Haitian and where all those we serve are Haitian. We are delighted that Dr. Sannon has agreed to lead the HAS team of medical professionals.”
Dr. Sannon specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of tropical disease, and has been on staff at HAS since 2006. He replaces Silvia Ernst, M.D., who served as Medical Director at HAS for three years, beginning in August 2010, when HAS was faced with Haiti’s first cholera outbreak in more than 100 years. In order to effectively contain the outbreak, the HAS medical team had to quickly diagnose the disease, efficiently treat it, and isolate those who contracted it in a separate area of the hospital.
Drs. Sannon and Ernst have collaborated closely together and with the entire HAS team to address the recent resurgence of cholera in the hospital’s service area, which has required rapid-response community-based efforts to prevent its spread and significant clinical resources to efficiently diagnose and treat cholera victims in HAS community health centers and the hospital’s cholera isolation ward.
“Dr. Ernst has been a true leader in this and many other significant challenges during her tenure at HAS,” said Martin. “Her work ethic, attention to detail, and medical expertise helped set the very high standards of care that exist at HAS today.”
HAS was established in 1956 by Dr. Larry and Gwen Mellon, and today comprises a 131-bed hospital, four community health centers, 70-80 mobile clinics and 225 health posts per month, with a staff of some 500 employees. The HAS system serves about 345,000 people, a population equivalent to that of a city such as Raleigh, North Carolina, which has more than a dozen hospitals.
The community-based healthcare and health education programs established by HAS in the 1960’s have served as models for community healthcare services in challenged environments throughout the world.
HAS focuses heavily on preventative care that minimizes the need for expensive inpatient care. The hospital fully immunizes thousands of children every year, provides malnutrition screening and treatment, nutrition education, reproductive health education, and helps ensure that mothers are provided with appropriate prenatal and postnatal care and education.
In addition, the hospital is one of a small number of trauma centers in Haiti, where secondary road development has resulted in a significant increase in the incidence of traumatic injuries from motor vehicle accidents. With grants from the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program of USAID and the Jones Day Foundation, as well as support from numerous individual donors, the hospital is expanding its emergency care facilities to address this growing need for trauma care.