Atrium Health’s International Medical Outreach (IMO) program has 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. IMO is a collaboration between Atrium Health and Heineman Medical Outreach, Inc.

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.

In December 2017, the IMO program began shipping rooms full of medical equipment to New Hope, including an ultrasound machine, labor and delivery beds, fetal monitors, exam tables and defibrillators. According to Francis Robicsek, MD, PhD, IMO vice president, and Theresa Johnson, IMO director, the donations can help medical providers diagnose high-risk pregnancies more safely and efficiently, and increase the number of infant deliveries they can perform. The equipment donations were made possible with support from the George W. and Ruth R. Baxter Foundation and Harrison United Methodist Church in Pineville, NC.

“The lack of materials and equipment at our hospital would often force us to refer patients elsewhere,” says Maklin Eugene, MD, executive director at New Hope. “These donations alone have helped us increase the number of services we can offer and patients we can treat. Support from international partners like IMO will help us carry out our big fight for quality health care in Haiti.”

Since the equipment donations, providers at New Hope have performed more than 215 ultrasounds and have seen a 92 percent increase in total number of infant deliveries. Surgeries in the operating room are also now a reality, with nearly 100 surgeries performed in five months. IMO is now coordinating patient care and education programs at New Hope alongside Atrium Health providers. Over the years, IMO has worked with varying organizations on medical projects in Haiti, although the partnership with New Hope is its first larger-scale project in the country.

“We are thrilled to see the hospital flourish with these donations, which have made life-saving services available closer to home for many,” says James C. Olsen, senior vice president of Materials Resource Management at Atrium Health. “We are committed to continuing our work with Haiti officials and New Hope staff and to bringing patients the best possible care through both medical equipment and education.”

IMO is working with Robert Higgins, MD, chair of the OBGYN department at Atrium Health, to develop plans to support New Hope with maternal care and related medical education. They made preliminary on-the-ground assessments of the hospital’s top OBGYN needs during travels to Haiti this month.

The IMO program continuously works with medical providers to offer patient care and educational support to facilities worldwide. It helps to staff surgeries, to perform community-based screenings and to promote general health education. To date, IMO has contributed to medical and education-based programs in more than 40 countries and in North Carolina, with material donations alone totaling more than $32 million in seven years.