We proudly share details of HAS’s COVID-19 response efforts, which have helped us save lives and manage the spread of COVID in the Artibonite Valley in Haiti.
Designated a COVID-19 treatment site by the Haitian Ministry of Health, HAS activated its COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan in early March to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus. Our COVID-19 emergency response has included the following actions:
COVID-19 Cases, Treatment and Testing
To date, HAS has treated almost 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 9 fatalities. HAS renovated its former Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) as a care site for coronavirus patients. To limit contact and potential transmission of the virus, all suspected cases are moved to the CTC for evaluation and treatment. HAS does not have its own supply of tests. The Haitian Ministry of Health has assigned a health official to HAS who manages the testing process for all suspected cases.
Community Education and Containment
With tremendous amount of anxiety about and stigma associated with the coronavirus in rural Haiti, HAS employed a robust communication and awareness strategy. Community health workers received in-depth COVID-19 training and canvassed local and neighboring communities with megaphones, sharing messages to improve hygiene and increase social distancing. At the hospital, emergency protocols and containment procedures are enforced to curb transmission of the virus.
HAS installed additional handwashing stations in the hospital, on the campus grounds and in the surrounding communities, and also increased the availability of household “tippy taps” or hand-washing devices that enable contact-free handwashing. More than 300 handwashing stations and 139 tippy taps have been installed in and around the service community.
Surface Disinfectant and Sanitizer
COVID-19 created critical shortages of bleach and all other surface sanitizers on the local market, leaving hospitals and health centers all over Haiti in dire need. Donor-funded upgrades to HAS’ water system included the addition of a Mixed Oxidants (MIOX) water purifying system which has been repurposed to manufacture surface disinfectant 2.5 times more effective than chlorine/bleach. A cost-effective process, sanitizer is produced at $3/gallon and in quantities of up to 200 gallons/day. HAS has supplied sanitizer throughout its own health system and also to the local police precinct, churches and schools. Since March, HAS has distributed over 3,000 gallons of sanitizer.
Oxygen therapy is the primary treatment for COVID-19 in Haiti, along with fever control and hydration. HAS has long had the capability to produce and store oxygen on site, but our oxygen generators were aging. We recently received a new high-capacity oxygen generator through the generosity of HAS partners Caris Foundation and USAID, assuring a reliable supply of oxygen for COVID treatment and other needs in the years to come.
Continued Essential Health Services
In the midst of treatment for COVID-19, HAS continued to provide essential health services by remaining open 24 / 7, providing vital maternal and child health services including high-risk obstetrics, prenatal and neonatal care and pediatric services. We continued to perform emergency and critical surgeries and to receive acutely ill patients at the hospital. Although HAS remained open, many people deferred health services during the worst part of the COVID outbreak. They are seeking care now. Since May, the number of patients coming to HAS for care have more than doubled.
Also due to the pandemic, community activities were at a standstill for the months of March and April. With new sanitary regulations and procedures outlined by the Ministry of Health coupled with HAS’ newly established COVID-19 protocols, sanitation, water and hygiene program activities fully resumed in May 2020.