One of my roles in Gonaives is to help Much Ministries build working relationships with the existing medical community. We want to be able to improve the quality of care all over the city, not just in Jubilee at our own clinic, and that involves getting to know the strengths, weaknesses and needs of the city's hospitals and clinics.
I spent most of last week doing recon in the ER of Providence Hospital. After my first day winning the staff's favor, I was joined by an ER doctor from Georgia. Our final diagnosis was that although the hospital would benefit from continuing education, the pressing need is for simple supplies. For example, the 2 room, 12 bed ER has only one trash can. They were allotted one box of gloves for an entire day - I mean one box for a staff of 3 nurses, 4 doctors, and 6 nursing students. The ER has no fans and in the whole department, there is only one chair for the average 20 family members who are visiting patients.
The hospital pharmacy was hard for me to stomach. Compare these bare shelves...
...to our fully stocked shelves at the Jubilee clinic!
For the sake of privacy, I only took photos wherever there were no patients, but you can imagine the rest. This is a bed in the post-op ward. The hospital cannot provide sheets or towels, so each patient's family is responsible to bring them. The family also feeds the patient, bathes him, and handles the bedpan or the long walk to the bathroom.
This is the only sink in the ER. I never saw it used for actual handwashing.
In the men's internal medicine ward, this is the sink.
The pediatric ward.
And the hospital's resident goat.
The situation at Providence is a direct result of the floods that devastated Gonaives in 2004 and 2008, washing away or destroying much of their equipment such as oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, IV poles and most of their pharmacy stock. It also forced them to move from the hospital to their current home: a large warehouse. Furthermore, Providence is the government hospital for the whole region and it is sorely underfunded. Dr Honore, the director, is truly doing the best possible with such limited resources. I am also very impressed by the nurses I've befriended in the ER; some of them haven't received a salary in months, but they keep working. They also share their food and drink with patients who don't have family to care for them.
We are doing what little we can to help. Extra supplies from our clinic such as gloves and IV bags were delivered the hospital 2 weeks ago. We gave them a nebulizer and we are currently gathering funds to buy trash cans, fans, chairs, oxygen tanks, and basic medications. It's always fun to have true needs met in a visible manner but even better is sitting with a couple nurses and just hearing them out. Even if we are only able to provide a tenth of what they need, they have been given a voice and that matters.