Haiti 2010 Visit Blog
Haiti from above: The aerial view flying into Port au Prince shows how much Haiti is struggling to recover
The Regis team arrived safely on June 1 in a sunny and hot Port au Prince and immediately began connecting with colleagues collaborating on the Regis Haiti project. We met up right away with our friends and associates, Donna Barry of Partners in Health (Zanmi Lasante in Creole) and Maud Duvilaire, current and soon to retire Director of Nursing in the Haitian Ministry of Health. Maud brought the new Director and the Chief of the Ministry of Health with her.
Here we all are together, left to right
Erma Bois (Director of the Ministry of Health, who will replace Maud); Rosaline Mecejour (Chief of the Ministry of Health); Maud Duvilaire; Regis President Mary Jane England, MD; Regis BSN Cheri Normilus; Dean Toni Hays, RN, PhD, and Regis nursing faculty member, Nancy White Street, of the Regis College School of Nursing, Science and Health Professions; and Donna Barry, Partners in Health. The Haitian Ministry of Health officials expressed to us the fact that the Regis project is still a priority for them. This made for a very positive beginning to our visit, as we expected.
On the ground much of the rubble from the earthquake remains.
Here is one of the many "tent cities" in PAP in which people are living.
Meetings: In the afternoon we discussed our plans and worked out our itinerary of meetings.
Left to right around the tables: Rosaline Mecejour, Erma Bois, Toni Hays, Maud Duvilaire, Cheri Normilus, Donna Barry, Dr. England. Because of the earthquake and the recovery efforts, its takes two to three times longer to move from one part of the city to another.
Dinner on Day 1
Left to right around the table, Thomas England, medical student; Donna Barry, PIH, Nancy Street, Toni Hays, Cherlie Normilus, our hostess, Dr. England. We are staying at a lovely house owned by an NGO who is working with PIH- "Operation Blessing." They have been wonderful to us.
Hands helping hands, a Zanmi Lasante, PIH, logo on a T-shirt
Regis student and faculty member, Cherlie Normilus, with her brother Osman and his two surviving children, Ruuls Magny, eleven years old, and Shardy Magny, three years old. The children lost their mother and sister in the earthquake on January 12.
Tomorrow morning we are off to visit one of the medical tents and see how they continue to deliver treatment and care. We’ll send more photos.
June 2, 2010: Day Two
This morning early we learned that Father Robert Kickham, Secretary to his eminence, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap., Archbishop of Boston, had succeeded in contacting the office of the papal nuncio in Haiti, Archbishop Bernadito Auza.
Cardinal Seán had offered to make this contact for us on May 18 when we met with him. Archbishop Auza is officially the ordinary of the Archdiocese of Port au Prince since Archbishop Joseph Miot was killed in the earthquake. Although Archbishop Auza is currently out of the country, Father Kickham reached Monsignor Eric Soviguidi at the nunciature. He, in turn, contacted Monsignor André Pierre, the rector of Université Notre-Dame, the Catholic University of Haiti, with which Regis College would like to partner to train nursing faculty. The result is that we were copied on a lovely e-mail note from Monsignor André Pierre and will be meeting with him on Thursday, June 3, which is the Feast of Corpus Christi in Haiti. Here is part of his note to Monsignor Soviguidi:
Dear Msgr Eric,
Thank you for sharing with me the news of … Dr Mary Jane England’s visit to Port-au-Prince and to Université Notre-Dame, the Catholic University of Haiti. Our gratitude goes to H.E. Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, for his support.
It is a great pleasure and honor to welcome the Regis delegation to our campus on Thursday June 3rd at 1:00 PM. Your suggestion that we meet near what is left of Sacred Heart Church and proceed together to Université Notre-Dame will certainly facilitate the visit. We will be there a few minutes ahead of time. I value the visit and the opportunity that it can open for Université Notre-Dame to have a partnership with the renowned Regis College of Boston, seeking to establish in Haiti a nursing education program, a field in which Université Notre-Dame excels. We will be able to discuss the matter and show our facilities to the delegation.
For the present time, a great part of our teachings is done under the tents or under the trees (like in ancient Greece). Members of our staff will attend the meeting. I will make arrangement to have an official of our School of Nursing attending. But June 3rd being a holiday in Haiti [the Feast of Corpus Christi], the students will not be on campus.
To the Regis delegation, to Father Bob Kickham and to Dr Mary Jane England, I extend a very warm welcome to Haiti and to Université Notre-Dame.
With great appreciation to the Apostolic Nunciature for the crucial role it plays in coordinating this meeting and to you, Msgr Eric, for your speedy efficient action, I extend our gratitude.
Thank you and God bless you.
Mgr. Pierre-André PIERRE
Université Notre-Dame d'Haiti-UNDH
Today we saw more tent camps from our van. Here is a photo.
We were en route to visit St. Vincent’s Park, another one of the temporary camps. At the request of the Haitian Ministry of Health, St. Vincent’s is where PIH (Zanmi Lasante) provides health care services to 60, 000 people currently living there. Dr. Maxo, a PIH trained Haitian Physician, gave us a tour of the PIH medical tents. He explained to us that there are approximately 1000 patients that are seen each day, and 36,000 patients that were seen just last month. Services provided include Primary health care, OBGYN, Nutrition, Pediatrics, as well as limited Mental and Dental health services.
Regis and PIH Group Tour of St. Vincent’s with Dr. Maxo
Left to right: Donna Barry, Dr. Maxo, Dean Toni Hays, Regis nursing faculty and graduate Cherie Normilus, medical student Thomas England, Regis nursing faculty member Nancy Street, and Regis President Mary Jane England, MD. Several of the camp children were interested in our visit.
The camp has its own pharmacy
There is so much trash and rubble, and nowhere to put it.
… And in the hot climate, Dr. Maxo’s assistants must constantly test residents for malaria and typhoid.
Following our visit to the camp at St. Vincent’s Park, we moved on to meet with Dr. Ernest Barbot, who is Project Director of AFD (Agence Française de Développement), which has been in Haiti since 1976. AFD currently has several active projects in Haiti, including:
- A health project to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in the Center, Nippes and Southeast Departments
- A drinking water project to supply the disadvantaged neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince and implement the emergency rehabilitation of the drinking water network
Dr. Barbot expressed interest in the Regis/Haiti Project since the financing of health care training is a priority. The Regis team expressed the desire to elevate the level of nurse faculty preparation. The nursing leadership in the Ministry of Health conveyed that this is in keeping with their ongoing plans to develop a baccalaureate program within the nursing schools accredited by the MOH.
Dr. Maud Duvilaire and Dr. Barbot:
Cherlie Normilus, Maud Duvilaire, and Dr. Barbot
Maud, Dr. Barbot, and Donna Barry
Last of all for now, here is a shot of me, Alexis P., the Regis team correspondent and development aide, sending photos to Regis….
We are on our way now to a meeting with representatives of USAID.
Meanwhile, let’s post some additional photos from our first and second days in Haiti.
Here are two of our friends from PIH’s “Operation Blessing,” Eric and Dave.
And here we are with Dr. Maxo in one of the PIH tents, left to right: Cherlie, Dr. England, Thomas, Dean Hays, and Donna.
When we first landed at the airport in PAP, Dean Hays met someone else flying in for PIH. He’s an expert in Informatics, the hi-tech medical records keeping that Regis nursing faculty are fully involved in, so the conversation struck up immediately.
Last weekend, on May 31, before we left for Haiti, there was an article in The Wall Street Journal about the fact that the US Military was now pulling out of Haiti. In the wake of the destruction of January 12, those forces were extremely important for introducing some physical order and stability to conduct even emergency functions. Here’s a photo, for example, of the rocks (there must have been tons!) the US Military was able to deliver to help stabilize the ground of medical camps like St. Vincent’s Park so they would not be so vulnerable to mudslides. As for all those ladies’ shoes – well, I bet you can guess who belongs to which….
Anyway, the WSJ article, “American Troops Leave Haiti,” quotes US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley saying that the departure agreed upon by the US and Haitian governments indicates that “we have reached a basic level of sustainment in Haiti.” The focus now is on development and the work that can be done in the civilian sector.
The article underscores the timeliness of our visit as the Regis College Haiti Project endeavors to help Haiti rebuild its human infrastructure by training nursing faculty and nurses to staff new hospitals and clinics properly and to be self-sustaining. The WSJ article mentions that “the U.S. will remain involved in assisting Haiti
through the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead agency coordinating the U.S. response, U.N. efforts and nonprofit groups, and that, in addition, 500 National Guard troops will be stationed in Haiti for several months to help construct schools, clinics, and community centers.
And that makes a good segue to a note about our visit with USAID. We have no photos of that visit for security reasons. But the meeting with USAID (Dr. Jorge Velasco) was encouraging. We raised awareness about the importance of the Regis Haiti Project and the general need to upgrade Haitian nursing faculty education as part of the long-term rebuilding and reconstruction of Haiti.
Following our meeting with USAID, we met with our friend Yolande Nazir (Dean of the Public School of Nursing in PAP) who had visited us at Regis in 2008, and with Dr. Marlobel Berlotte from the Haitian Ministry of Health. She is Dr. Timothe's second in command. It was wonderful to see Yolande. She and her staff suffered terribly during the earthquake because, among other reasons, over seventy of the nursing students were immediately killed in the disaster. The purpose of this meeting on our second day in Haiti was to discuss an academic partnership with the state University in Haiti.
June 3, 2010: Day Three
Today is a national and a religious holiday in Haiti, the Feast of Corpus Christi, or what the Haitians call “Corpus Domini.” Here is a photo of people – all in their clean, bright cottons – coming out of church after Mass.
Corpus Christi celebration
We are on our way to our scheduled meeting with representatives of Catholic Relief Services (CRF). Dean Hays has been regularly corresponding with its director, Dr. Ken Hackett, who is from Boston, and whom she and President England met at last week’s Catholic Charities gala at the Kennedy Library. Here in Haiti we are scheduled to meet with CRS representatives Anna Van Rooyen and Carl Stecker RN PhD.
As usual, the drive over to a meeting place is full of images. Here are some.
Mountain, palm trees, and a depot of old tires
Rubble and reconstruction as a staircase gets rebuilt into a hillside
Destruction at the side of the road
Art work on the side of the road
Before our meeting with CRS representatives, we collected our thoughts and focused our strategies.
Dean Hays presenting an idea to the group
Dr. England and Dean Hays discuss what approach is best. In the background, Thomas is enjoying a stretch.
You may be wondering why we are conducting multiple meetings with different groups, whether NGOs, universities, or government, or church officials. One of the realities in Haiti historically is that multiple groups are engaged here, and their efforts are not always connected. In fact, their efforts are usually quite separate, along with their funding. The earthquake brought this situation tragically to light since the scale of destruction meant that the country needed massive, co-ordinated aid as well as separate endeavors. Our multiple meeting are based on our belief that a co-ordinated effort is critical to our project and most helpful to Haitians.
This, of course, is what many of those who have been working in Haiti, including Haitian officials, have also been asking for as they seek ways to rebuild their country, its health and education systems, and its services. Our meetings with the Ministry of Health, with academic partners (both public and private universities in Haiti), and with NGOs have already been productive. The conversations are:
- establishing our project here in Haiti;
- educating the various NGOs about the expressed needs from the nursing leadership in Haiti based on our ongoing three year relationship with the Haitian Ministry of Health;
- helping to set forth the infrastructure for nursing faculty education in Haiti that will serve to credential faculty;
- raising awareness and gaining agreement that training the trainers is really a necessity if any sustainable progress is to be made by Haitians for Haitians; and 5) creating inroads for the funding of the Regis project in Haiti.
This, our third day in Haiti, starting off in the glow of the Feast of Corpus Christi, has continued to be very, very busy. We saw more of the city of PAP en route to our meeting with CRS officials and had a wonderful discussion with Anna Van Rooyen and Carl Stecker RN PhD, who reinforced our aim to connect several groups together.
Catholic Relief Services and Regis teams: Left to right: Carl Stecker, Anna van Rooyen, Dean Hays, President England, Nancy Street, Cherlie Normilus
Then, at noontime, we found our way to the famous church of the Sacred Heart (Eglise Sacre Coeur) in downtown PAP, so destroyed in the earthquake. Here is a photo of the church taken shortly after the earthquake (Catholic News Service).
Eglise Sacre Coeur (CNS) We got to Sacred Heart early and could not initially see our colleagues from the Université Notre-Dame, the Catholic University of Haiti. So, phone calls and e-mails started flying from us to Mgr. Pierre-André, the rector, and between us and our Regis base. Remember, in Haiti it’s a holiday! And the earthquake has destroyed a lot of landmarks. Things had gone fairly smoothly until now, and we had reason to remember that not all systems are working at all times, including telephones. Anyway, we actually found our way to the Université itself, where we waited in a parking lot till we could connect. Our driver and a security guard from Notre Dame went back to Eglise Sacre Coeur to scout for the Université representatives. Meanwhile, Anna and Carl, the representatives of CRS joined us, and so did Yolande Nazir, with whom we had met regarding the state university. In the end, all was well. The group we were to meet, including Mgr. Pierre-André, were at the Notre Dame nursing school – fittingly enough – and we had another wonderful meeting. Notre Dame is fully on board and agrees that the project is very important and timely.
The way things were unfolding, the Regis visit was actually the catalyst, person-to-person, for bringing several groups together to collaborate – in this case, Anna and Carl of CRS, Yolande for the state university, Msgr. Pierre-André for Notre Dame, Partners in Health, Regis College, and the Haitian Ministry of Health. Here is a photo of our meeting at the Notre Dame School of Nursing.
Meeting of the Minds: Left to right: President England, Yolande, Cherlie, Nancy, Anna, Toni, Carl
We successfully forged a MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) between Regis and Notre Dame. The rector, Monsignor Pierre-André, is a lovely man, and it turns out he knows our Cardinal Seán well. Years ago, they lived together in Washington, DC in a Capuchin house.
Here is a photo of Mgr. Pierre-André, the rector/president of Université Notre-Dame, with Dr. England, President of Regis.
The next step is for Regis, with the ongoing help of Donna Barry and Partners in Health, to put together a three-page proposal about the curriculum, with all the pertinent details both for Notre Dame and for the state university, which everyone will then review and officially agree upon. Once that’s done, the proposal can be presented to the Haitian Ministry of Health for approval. CRS (Anna) feels if all members can agree, we will find it much easier to get funding; she mentioned the Clinton Foundation.
And another photo of the whole group at Notre Dame. Left to right: the Vice-President of Finance and Business, Notre Dame d'Haiti, Anna van Rooyen from CRS, Yolande Nazir from the state university, Dean Toni Hays from Regis, Msgr. Andre Pierre from Notre Dame, Dr. England, Cherlie, Carl Stecker from CRS, and Alexis P.
So the meetings of the day turned out to be blessings, and we set out for Cange, a small remote village in the Central Plateau of Haiti, where Partners in Health runs an American funded hospital. Cange is about two hours north of PAP. PIH literature explains that the small community clinic that first started treating patients in the village of Cange in 1985 has grown into the Zanmi Lasante (ZL) Sociomedical Complex, featuring a 104-bed, full-service hospital with two operating rooms, adult and pediatric inpatient wards, an infectious disease center (the Thomas J. White Center), an outpatient clinic, a women’s health clinic (Proje Sante Fanm), ophthalmology and general medicine clinics, a laboratory, a pharmaceutical warehouse, a Red Cross blood bank, radiographic services, and a dozen schools.
On the way to Cange we stopped at the children's home and had a quick but wonderful visit with the children.
Children from the home for unaccompanied children -- Zanmi Bene
When we arrived in Cange we were greeted by three of the four nurses that Regis hosted in 2008.
Regis and PIH nurses trained at Regis reunite. Here are Jeanne Myrlene Astremond, Marie Myrlene St. Vil, and Lydie Presnar with Dean Hays and President England.
Everyone was very excited. We then got a tour and now, at 11:30 p.m. or so, we are headed to bed.
June 4, 2010: Day Four
A NOTE FROM DR. ENGLAND: We left around 7AM from the PIH Hospital in the mountains of Cange. Our driver made good time to the airport. It is now 9:45 and I am thru to the gate…. But our late morning plane scheduled to arrive in Miami in the late afternoon is delayed for a half hour. We then have a long wait for our connection to a late flight tonight to Boston. We are all tired but elated. It was a good and productive week.
School children we saw en route from Cange to PAP
Our group at the airport departing from Haiti: Left to right: Cherlie, Nancy, Thomas, Alexis, Toni, Dr. England