I have most recently been working at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Carrefour. As you know I came back to work directly with them until December 20th.
I went to Fond Parisien to work with a group that Foundation for Peace (FFP) was hosting. Doing this gives me a chance to work with Pastor Valantin who has become one of my most cherished friends and cultural mentor. I also get to see many of the patients that I worked with in Jimani at the Buen Samritano Surgical Center (BSSC). Checking up on their recovery and knowing that there is continuing PT care with them is helping to bring closure to that initial experience. Walking around the ARC Refugee camp and seeing all the need that is still so evident is difficult.
Before I left the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital (SDAH) to go on this last trip with the FFP I was struggling with finding my place at the Hospital. I have found that as the relief stage is ending and the recovery stage is starting, many of the crisis moments that we faced are starting to progress and as we are coming to identify the long term systemic problems that were here before the earthquake, I find myself ill equipped to deal with these issues and I began to wonder what it is I could do here. Why did I feel so strongly that God was calling me back here if there wasn’t anything I could really do?
As I was preparing to leave that morning I was thinking about one of the major issues that we are having in regards to exonerating patients. As a mission hospital in Haiti, in order for you to function you have to charge patients who can pay and exonerate those who cannot. Before the earthquake our exoneration rate was 10% of the patients, (as 10% of the population in this area had no income). Now after the earthquake the hospital is facing issues with the fact that it has been documented that in this area over 50% of the population is without income. This bumps our exoneration rate up to 50% of our patients. As of right now for the most part all our Orthopedics is free, which makes up for more than 50% of our patient load. But other specialties like emergency medicine, pediatrics, and gynecology we are unable to evaluate which patients can and cannot pay, which translates into refusing care to people who ‘refuse’ to pay. This puts us in a very difficult spot. One of the things that we really need at the hospital are social workers. At the same time we also need community health workers who are active in the community communicating their needs to us here at the hospital.
As I was getting ready to leave the hospital to get a tap-tap (local public transit), I decided that I would focus my energy on developing a proposal and training community health/social workers. That was the need I identified and that is what I wanted to do. As I was doing my best to identify how I was going to do it I found that with no background in social work (other than identifying and placing un accompanied minors at the first hospital I worked at) and no background in Community health, I had no idea what I was going to do. Here was a need that God was placing on my heart and I didn’t know what to do first.
As I was pondering this the first two days with FFP’s group I ran into an old friend whom I had worked with when I was at my first hospital the BSSC. He works for the University of Chicago and with Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), and he was one of the disaster relief experts who came down to work at Love a Child’s and HHI’s field hospital (the place where most of the patients from my first hospital were transferred to when we closed). As we were catching up I shared with him about how difficult it still was at the current hospital I am working at (SDAH), how things seem to move so slow and funding in general just isn’t coming through. As we were both busy at the moment he asked me to come up and see him later that day.
That day we were working on benches for the school that FFP built near the refugee camp. As the teams were sanding and getting them ready for the classroom, I had a chance to slip away and visit him. As we were chatting he shared with me what was happening now with the love a child’s and HHI’s projects as their field hospital also closed down. He also shared his frustration about the lack of donor’s willingness to fund national staffs (a trend that is being felt at most hospitals). Then he shared with me about the two projects he is doing now. One of which just happened to be a project training 6-7 community health workers in disaster response. As he shared more and more about the project I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was exactly what I wanted to do at the SDAH.
As I learned more and more I couldn’t help but get the chills as he asked me to be his in-country project manager. This would entail being a communicator between the different groups involved and helping the 6-7 national staff with logistics and communicating back and forth to the states. It also meant that I would participate in their trainings and I would be learning right alongside them. I would also be learning how to manage and develop a community health curriculum. I was completely blown away. I told him I would sleep on it and that I had to talk with some people first. That night as I was sharing with Pastor Valantin and talking about future plans and the community health aspect of the vocational school that FFP was planning on building we couldn’t believe how everything was working out. Not only that but he had several people who are perfect fits for the program.
I couldn’t believe how God had prepared my heart for this, and how the doors opened up right in front of me. After chatting some more with my friend and talking with other people I accepted the position and will be going to work at Love a Child, in Fond Parisien. As I was sharing this with the assistant administrator from the SDAH he said to me “hey, we are really sad to see you go, but I can tell that this is a God thing and we are really excited for you.”
As the job will cover my expenses in country and the fact that I still have donations coming down for my work at the Adventist Hospital I feel really strongly that I would like to have that money go to fund much needed social workers at the hospital. Many of the patients don’t have family and as the hospital only serves one meal a day many of them don’t get the nutrition they need. And they really have nowhere to go after they leave here. We have a translator who has stepped up to take care of these patients but the hospital has no funds to pay him (they don’t even have enough money to pay the nurses and the doctors). As this is something small and tangible and can really have a large impact on people I would like to support him. I know that this money is being sent down to support me and the work I’m doing here, but as I am now funded I would like it to go to a much needed job and funding Haitians. I am also hoping that in the near future we will be able to find funding for community health and social workers at the hospital.
Your brother in Christ,
Luke D. Davies