St. Damien Begins Cardiology Program

Patient with nurses

Patient with nurses


St. Damien Pediatric Hospital performed its first open heart surgeries March 15-20th. Twelve children from all over Haiti who have been living with different heart defects were brought to St. Damien Hospital for surgery. These individual cases where chosen based on the child’s conditions and the likelihood that the surgery would be successful and improve the child’s quality of life. St. Damien Hospital, known as one of the premier pediatric hospitals in the country, provides care for thousands of children as well as operates a maternity ward which deals with high risk pregnancies each year. The addition of heart surgeries to the care offered at St. Damien Hospital is part of our goal of partnering with other organizations and utilizing their skills to teach our physicians and in line with our mission of offering a high level of care to our patients.

For many years, St. Damien Hospital has admitted and cared for patients with different degrees of heart defects. These children desperately required simple surgeries, in most cases a basic procedure done within the first few years of life would completely solve their problem. However, such options were not available to these kids. In 2010, Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, which has a partnership with St. Damien, began focusing on this problem. A screening program was developed and a list of patients needing operations was created. In 2012, St. Damien sent four children to Akron’s for heart surgery. This success led to four more cases in both 2013 and 2014, with all children receiving the highest level of care in the Unites States. Although this is an amazing gift, the cost of traveling to a foreign country to receive an operation and the thus low number of cases possible, was not sustainable.

Performing the surgeries in Haiti means that more cases can be seen, and the costs are significantly lower. Pairing those two positives with the ability of traveling teams to teach our Haitian physicians how to perform such operations, makes the perfect trifecta for a sustainable solution. There will be rotating teams coming from the US twice a year to perform surgeries, teach and mentor our Haitian physicians, monitor past cases, and perform maintenance on the operating equipment.

This recent surgeries were a huge success for St. Damien and for healthcare in Haiti. One such case was a young girl named Estherline*. Estherline is a one year-old infant from Leogane and was the first child to receive heart surgery at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital. She had a small hole in her heart, a common enough surgery performed regularly in the US with patients going on to experience completely normal lives. Estherline’s mother told us the story of how she knew her child was sick. “She did not act like my first two children had and so I went from hospital to hospital looking for an answer”. One day she heard a missionary from the US had come to run a small clinic near her neighborhood. She went and was told her child was having heart issues and was referred to St. Damien hospital for care. Timing is everything, and Estherline happened upon us while cases were being prepped for the surgical team. Her case file went through the regular rounds of examination and the team was optimistic that they could cure her. Her surgery was a success, and a landmark for St. Damien Hospital and its partners as it marked the first open heart surgery performed in the Hospital. Estherline was discharged from the hospital and we are confident and hopeful that follow up visits will reflect that her continued advancement.

We want to thanks all the donors who contributed and continue to support this program: Dr. Jeff and Ellen Kempf of Akron Children’s Hospital, Mr. Rob Raymann from GOL, Dr. Brigitte Hudicourt from Rotary Club, Dr. Hugue Lucron a representative of GOL, Dr. Francois LacourGayet, and the wonderful doctors, nurses, and staff from all around the world (including the United States, France, and Italy). It is with the help of all these individuals and their organizations that we were able to provide these successful surgeries to the children of Haiti. It takes a hundred kind hearts to fix a heart. Thank you!




Andrea Bocelli Foundation supports the HIV Program at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital

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On April 2, 2015, Andrea Bocelli and his family, along with representatives  from the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, visited the NPH Haiti St. Damien Pediatric Hospital. Their visit began in the Maternity Surgery Center, which they have been supporting since the summer of 2012. The Andrea Bocelli Foundation group also visited the HIV program where Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, Executive Director of St. Damien, explained the milestones and the results reached after 25 years in terms of HIV awareness and treatment in the country. Since January 2015, the HIV Program has become part of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation activities in Haiti. The Foundation hopes to bring more effort and contributions in the next steps to combat HIV transmission. Maestro Bocelli, founder of Andrea Bocelli Foundation, celebrated this valuable team work by declaring his special closeness to the Haitian people, sharing with everyone the following words: “Only working together, hand in hand, we can do something great that goes beyond ourselves.
Contributed by
Andrea Bocelli Foundation, Communication Office

New Perspectives for Pediatric Cardiology in Haiti

A partnership is established for the benefit of Haitian children with heart disease.

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St. Damien Pediatric Hospital can now provide surgical care for children with heart disease through a partnership with Gift of Life International, Rotary Clubs in Haiti and the United States, Akron Children’s Hospital, Haiti Cardiac Alliance and Open Hearts Haiti. This program will intensify as Haitian staff are trained to provide care for the children in their own country. This is an extraordinary opportunity for St. Damien Hospital to partner with these nongovernmental organizations to implement this lifesaving program for the children of Haiti.

In the long term, the St. Damien Hospital will, thanks to this support, develop its own capacity to operate on children with heart disease. “We are very excited as we begin the first phase of a project to ensure lifesaving heart surgery to children in Haiti. We are committed to this initiative for the benefit of the children, bringing them hope,” said Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, Executive Director of St. Damien Hospital. This hospital is one of the best pediatric hospitals in Haiti.

Thousands of Haitian children suffer from heart disease. About 2,000 are born with some form of this disease and 50% require surgery. The need is great in Haiti.

“In recent years, Akron Children’s Hospital joined the Saint Damien Hospital in its efforts to provide quality care to Haitian children. One of our major goals is to help St. Damien Hospital to provide care for children with heart disease.” reveals Dr. Francois Lacour-Gayet, a hospital in Ohio in the United States.

Teams of medical specialists will offer their services and expertise to train staff at St. Damien. “Our mission is ultimately to help developing countries provide care to children with heart disease in their country of birth. We are working to make cardiac surgery accessible to the large number of Haitian children with heart disease, “said Rob Raylman, Executive Director of Gift of Life International.

Funding for this initiative is provided by numerous partners including the Rotary International Foundation. The project is coordinated with the help of Haitian Gift of Life affiliate: Kado Lavi, a leader in Haiti to provide care to children with heart disease. Recently, Rotary clubs and districts worldwide partnered a Rotary global grant totaling US $146,000 with the Rotary Club of Port au Prince. “The Rotary Club of Port Au Prince is proud to present these funds to provide staff training, procurement of supplies, medications and equipment necessary to support the program at Saint Damien said Dr. Joseph Guillaume, President of the Rotary Club of Port Au Prince.

The first cardiac surgery mission to Gift of Life International is led by Dr. Francois Lacour-Gayet, a surgeon at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, England. The mission will take place from March 15–20, 2015. 12 Haitian children will benefit. Without this opportunity, their chances would be very minimal for treatment or simply non-existent.

Photo credits: Ted Stevens


Prayer for the sick at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital

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On February 11, in memory of Our Lady of Lourdes and international day for the sick, the St. Damien Pediatric Hospital was visited by Fr. Giuseppe Trentadue, secretary to the Papal Nuncio. Father Rick Frechette, Father Enzo del Brocco, and Father Giuseppe celebrated mass together with staff members of St. Damien’s, patients, and the families of the infirm all in attendance.

Fr. Giuseppe gave an inspiring homily based on the gospel passage of the wedding in Cana. He encouraged us to be people of joy and to recognize, as Mary did, where and when joy is missing in the lives of those around us. Specifically referring to our little brothers and sisters. By following Mary’s example we notice how it is not sufficient just to recognize and denounce the needs, but that it is our job to give an answer to seek the solution and act accordingly. No matter the size or difficulty of the problem this is our duty. In front of any obstacle or crisis we are always called to listen to God and renew our hope and trust in Him. As Christians we are not allowed to give up and we must keep on going with all our efforts, knowing that only when we “fill our jars with water till the brim” Jesus will make the miraculous happen and turn the water into wine. In other words we are all called to do our best, to give all of ourselves in order to allow the opportunity for a miracle to happen.

After mass the patients received a special blessing and we visited and blessed the children in the hospital who were unable to come to the chapel.

Contributed by Fr. Enzo Del Brocco
Passionist Community

Employee Profile – Phadoul

PhadoulPhadoul is a dedicated member of the NPH Haiti team and we feel honored to have him as a part of this ever-growing family. His journey with us began up in the mountains in Kenscoff and over the past decade he has been in various leadership roles to help us improve the organization and the lives of our children.

After graduation, Phadoul was offered the opportunity to visit a potential job site that was seeking a director for their Montessori program. Phadoul did not expect to find a job so quickly after graduation so he jumped at the chance and he quickly accepted the job offer after visiting. He was then a Montessori teacher at the on-site school of NPH Haiti St. Helene and then six months later he was promoted as the director.  He worked with NPH Haiti from 1994 until 2003 and he was an irreplaceable member of the staff. However, after working closely with Fr. Rick Frechette on a few projects, Fr. Rick asked him to transfer to St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Tabbare to serve as the Human Resources Manager and Phadoul has been in the role ever since.

Phadoul comments that his favorite part about the job is being a part of the mission. He bares witness to the incredible work that NPH is doing daily, not just in the hospital, but the mission as a whole.

Phadoul said, “How many lives are being saved physically, emotionally, mentally and socially? NPH is doing that. We are contributing to the country’s development. Each time we get the chance to educate a child, that is helping shape the country. I’ve seen so many children who were raised at our NPH home who are now high school and university graduates. I even have children who I met as children at St. Helene who are now a part of our staff at St. Damien’s! NPH helps keep the gospel alive.”

We cannot thank Phadoul enough for his hard work and devotion to our NPH Family.


A Word of Gratitude…

SD_baby sleeping

In 2014, year of the 60th anniversary of NPH, St. Damien continued its work at supporting vulnerable families seeking healthcare for children and women with obstetrical conditions. We were able to see 13,789 children in our outpatient clinic, admitted 3,648 inpatients, delivered 1,878 newborns, including those by cesarean sections, treated 298 children with tuberculosis, offered dental care to 5,161 adults and children, treated 65 new cases of pediatric cancer. We have a cohort of 793 women and children infected and exposed to HIV including 550 receiving antiretroviral long-term treatment.

Year 2014 brought its load of challenges and accomplishments at the hospital. We succeeded in raising the basic salary of one third of our staff, the less paid employees, to an acceptable level.

We organized training sessions for the staff about keeping a welcoming atmosphere for families and also about using good communication among other strategies to always keep an approach of patient centered care.

Multiple other training sessions took place in neonatology with Bambinu Gesu hospital from Milan, Italy, with Italian neonatologists coming to support our program as well. Additionally we received volunteer midwives and pharmacists from Italy, and a neonatologist nurse from the US.

We opened a new Kangaroo unit as to help our fragile but stable premature babies to growth naturally before their discharge home.

We continued to work with a US network of pediatric programs offering global health experiences to US pediatric residents while our institution benefited from their expertise in subspecialties to improve our work.

St. Damien has strengthened our cardiologic program: six children went to Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio where they received cardiac surgery. We also received regular visits from two pediatric cardiologists from that same hospital. Also, St. Damien will receive a cardiac surgical mission from Gift of Life in March 2015: they will perform cardiac surgery for 10 to 12 children. A team of six staff members from Saint Damien spent six weeks training in Akron to prepare for this activity that will be a great accomplishment for our hospital and for Haiti. All these activities are supported and organized by Gift of Life International, a branch of Rotary Club.

We welcomed the second group of six residents in our program of pediatric residency: a way for St. Damien to contribute to the investment in medical education in Haiti where the lack of well-trained medical personnel is one of the main obstacles to healthcare access.

Unfortunately since October 2014, we have been experiencing a new surge of cholera cases. Our unit receives up to 100 cases a month. Programs promoting hands hygiene and increased access to potable water are implemented throughout the country to eradicate cholera, but their impact is not yet significant enough to prevent the outbreaks. Our center is one of the rare cholera centers still in function since many closed when the number of cases dropped.

Moreover, St. Damien is restructuring its administrative and financial office while encouraging more participation from all department heads in administrative duties. We are also benefitting from a cost study conducted by USAID with the goal of strengthening our administration. We need to move forward as we are experiencing a continuous increase of the cost of our operations while resources are not following the same trend. As a result, we are forced to ask the vulnerable families we serve for more financial contributions to their care, in order to limit the reduction of services next year.

We feel blessed that St. Damien is holding strong no matter the challenges, internal and external in the country. On behalf of the staff and of the families we serve, I am thanking you all: volunteers, donors and partners who make this work possible. Our organization is grateful for your invaluable support throughout the years.

With your help, we will continue to invest in children, our future. God bless you!

Jacqueline Gautier, MD, CEO

Please Join Us in Prayer

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated the nation of Haiti. We are deeply grateful to everyone who supported our work in Haiti by sponsoring children, making donations, attending and sponsoring events, visiting our home, volunteering, and giving products and services. With your help, we were able to launch or expand many services after the earthquake.

Please join us in prayer today for our NPH Haiti family, for those that have lost family members, and for the country.

“This is the meaning of the day, solidarity among people of good will worldwide…and determination by the human race to keep going today –embodied by the Haitian people,” Fr. Rick Frechette.

Below is a video highlighting what NPH Haiti has accomplished during the past 5 years. It’s 3 minutes that you surely can’t miss.