My wife, Delight Wing, and I recently returned from a two week stay at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS), covering for one of the full-time pediatricians who was on vacation.
It was a welcome chance to see some old friends and make new ones. Alumni House was filled at mealtimes with the usual interesting mix of visitors; anesthesiologists from Pittsburgh, a family physician from California, Haitian nurses and a team from Switzerland checking on their dispensaries. Of interest was the work being done by a team of hydrologists/geologists/biologists from Michigan doing a water quality survey of the Artibonite Valley. We learned a lot from them about the recent cholera outbreak and the barriers to providing potable water to the population. We also learned something about the water quality in Alumni House…..now much improved.
We have seen a lot of positive changes over the 28 years we have been going to HAS, particularly over the past few years. The pediatric inpatient service is busy, especially the “NICU” which at one point had a census of 16 infants, all less than 1500 grams. The outpatient clinic was relatively quiet but sure to pick up as they move into the rainy season. The pediatricians are working very hard and doing a great job with limited support services. They are especially looking forward to the projected upgrades to the microbiology lab.
The physical plant has really been spruced up. The focus has been the O.R. and the spaces adjacent to it. New tiling on the walls and floors and rerouting the patient flow has been a big improvement, not just in aesthetics but in patient care. The construction team was moving into the radiology suite while we were there and the x-ray team managed to keep things running amidst the demolition debris. Particularly pleasing are renovations to the courtyard. Repairs to the stonework and new plantings will provide a quiet retreat for patients and staff. We could easily picture Madam Mellon at her desk, writing notes and smiling in approval.