The initial involvement with Haiti occurred during the Duvalier government era when an official request was issued by the Haitian Embassy in Washington to advise them on the feasibility of establishing an open heart surgical program.
The International Medical Outreach (IMO) Program made several site visits to the General Hospital at Port au Prince and there were several promising developments. Things seemingly moved along well until the political system collapsed and so did the plans for cardiac surgery.
In 2009, Haiti once again became an issue of interest through the activities of Dr. Hadley Wilson, chief of cardiology of the Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute (SHVI), who was invited by the Lumiere Medical Missions organization and the Haitian Ministry of Health to survey cardiac care in the country in general, and specifically in the newly constructed King’s Hospital in Port au Prince.
Dr. Wilson was asked to give consideration to the possibility of providing expert advice and, through the IMO Program, provide material help in expanding the presently existing meager cardiology facilities, and to help install invasive cardiology and eventually cardiac surgical facilities. The issue was especially pressing because of the forbidding cost of referring cardiac patients in need of specialized care to foreign countries. Unfortunately, this mission was brought to a sudden halt by the disastrous events of the 2010 earthquake.
Because of the above, the Program redirected some of its efforts to provide much needed essential medical supplies, partnering with the Community Health Access International, a non-profit foundation led by Drs. William and Natalie Conner. The Outreach Program donated an ECG machine, vital sign monitor, and, more recently, medicine to aid with the cholera epidemic.
At the present time, the IMO Program is in partnership with several other organizations to establish a much-needed infirmary and health clinic in Haiti through the donation of medical equipment and supplies.
New Hope Hospital
In 2018 the IMO Program announced a partnership with New Hope Hospital in Plaine-Du-Nord, Haiti, aimed at enhancing health care services in the region, particularly for maternal health. On Aug. 24, IMO officials joined New Hope staff and local officials, including Haiti’s Health Ministry director and the mayor of Plaine-du-Nord, to commemorate the collaboration, which to date has made ultrasounds a reality for patients and has nearly doubled the number of infant deliveries at the hospital.
New Hope is a community-based referral facility that serves more than 250,000 residents and that offers inpatient and outpatient services such as prenatal and pediatric care, internal medicine and surgery. Since it opened in October 2016, it has treated more than 9,300 patients, a volume greater than other regional facilities. However, it has been unable to operate at capacity, a shortcoming due to lack of funds and basic medical equipment. Maternal health services are particularly high in demand, with Haiti’s infant mortality rate at 47 infant deaths per 1,000 live births – this is compared to 6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in the United States. Read more about the hospital and what it now can offer to its patients.