- Why Haiti?
The neonatal, infant, child and maternal mortality rates in Haiti are the highest in the western hemisphere and currently ranked worldwide with countries such as Afghanistan and the Congo.
While there are several factors that have perpetuated the healthcare crisis in Haiti, the goal of Bethesda Referral and Teaching Hospital is to provide Haiti with the most effective interventions proven to decrease these mortality rates.
- Tell us how you are planning to solve this problem in Haiti?
Our vision is to improve the quality of the healthcare across Haiti through four primary strategies:
1. To construct of a 225-bed specialty hospital and adjoining visiting staff housing in central Haiti
2. To develop of a nationwide community care grid network
3. To train Haitian clinical professionals including physicians, midwives and nurses.
4. To host large numbers of North Americans medical personnel to teach
We believe these strategies will fast track healthcare improvement throughout the entire country so that in a relatively short period of time Haiti’s healthcare system will be among the leaders in the region.
- Please tell us about the hospital?
Bethesda Referral and Teaching Hospital will be a faith-based, private, nonprofit specialty hospital located in Port Lafito in close proximity to Port-au-Prince. In light of the child and maternal health crisis, our initial phase will target high-risk mothers and infants referred from communities throughout Haiti.
The level of medical care at the hospital will be comparable to North American hospitals and will offer state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, transportation, and countywide communications.
- Can you tell us a little more about the community care grid network?
We are identifying approximately 15 population areas throughout Haiti that we call “Community Care Grids.” Each of these grids will have an assigned grid coordinator hired by the hospital to bring together local church leaders, community health care workers, local government officials, and North American organizations already involved in the community. Our objective for this group is to collaborate so that interventions that are proven to be effective for pregnant mothers and children can be implemented in their community.
The key to the success of each care grid is the collaboration of North American organizations and the local leaders to improve the community health care of their community.
- How do you plan to train Haitian medical personnel?
There is a tremendous lack of available physicians and other health professionals in Haiti, with the numbers of physicians, nurses and midwives significantly below World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and well below neighboring countries.
We will provide North American-level clinical training for current medical personnel as well as for medical and nursing school students. The teaching approach will be one-on-one, not commonly done in Haiti.
To accomplish this, we will implement a two-year “Recertification Program” to enable physicians and specialty nurses to be paid during their training while they work in the hospital.
- Are there other places in the world where a countrywide network and central referral hospital approach has been used?
The experts we have spoken with are not aware of comparable models that combine a referral hospital and countrywide networks to fast-track improvements in care. Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, one of the world’s leading experts in maternal and infant health, believes that this project will serve as a model for use in other countries.
- Please provide further information on the organization and group of individuals who are leading this hospital project?
Bethesda Referral and Teaching Hospital, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization with a corresponding nongovernmental organization to be established in Haiti.
This vision for the hospital was developed by Dr. Lee Jacobs while on a trip to Haiti to provide ongoing medical care following the January 2010 earthquake. Through first hand experience in the country, Dr. Jacobs realized how detrimental the lack of adequate medical infrastructure was to the Haitians. Although North American churches and organizations were providing good services in Haiti, it was obvious they were doing so in isolation without a collaborative plan. He desired to make a meaningful difference in improving Haiti’s quality of healthcare. Dr. Jacobs is an internist and infectious disease physician from Atlanta Georgia whose career included administrative positions with Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii and Georgia.
Dr. Jacobs has similar international experience as the founder and director of Central Asian Partners, a nonprofit corporation established in 1992 to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. In this capacity, Dr. Jacobs and his team addressed the decline of the quality of healthcare and rising infant mortality rates by partnering with the Minister of Health to equip a neonatal hospital and provide short-term teams of volunteers for more than fifteen years to provide medical, dental and optical services in rural areas.
- Where are you in the planning process?
The land has been donated in Port Lafito and we have begun the design process with a major architecture firm in Atlanta. Fundraising will begin as the construction and equipment costs are finalized.
The development of the community grid network will be ongoing. We have identified five pilot sites across the country and have been conducting baseline assessments in these communities. Contact with directors of clinics, orphanages, and other organizations throughout Haiti will form the framework for the community grid system.
- How much will it cost?
We estimate that the hospital construction and equipment, its associated community care grid network, transportation and telemedicine, and training re-certification programs will cost approximately $50-60 million with an operating budget of $15-20 million per year. The adjoining visiting staff housing will be in the $30 million range.
- Do you have your funding in place?
We are currently accepting funding.
- When will you be breaking ground? When do you think this hospital will be opened?
Based on current development plans construction is to be completed in two to three years.
- What can I do to help?
You can help by sharing our story with those people that you think may be interested in joining us in this work in Haiti. We also have a need to identify Haitian Americans and Haitian Canadians who would be interested in joining our team.
- What are your major needs today?
Our greatest immediate need is having opportunities to tell our story so we can mobilize interested people.
- Where can I get more information?
Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.