Go Inside St. Damien Children’s Hospital with Beyoncé

by Fusion and Danielle Wiener-Bronner | June 9, 2015 9:04 AM

More than five years after Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake, the nation’s children remain at risk. According to The World Bank, the under-5 mortality rate was especially high at 174 per 1,000 live births in 2010 — the year of the earthquake. But since then, the number has been consistently, if slowly, dropping to pre-earthquake lows. In 2011, the number fell to 77 and as of 2013, the latest year on record, the rate is 73 per 1,000 live births.

To learn more about how the country has fared since the disaster, Beyoncé decided to take a humanitarian trip to Haiti in May. While there, the world-famous singer, songwriter and actor went to one hospital working to suppress child mortality rates — St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Tabarre, Haiti. Founded by Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), the hospital was initially supposed to serve as a home for children with no families. But the institution changed its mission. Per the hospital website: “… the large amount of children dying from treatable illnesses showed a desperate need for a hospital that could treat chronic and other debilitating pediatric illnesses.”

Watch the ABC News/Fusion exclusive video above, provided by Parkwood Entertainment, to see what Beyoncé witnessed in Haiti.

The hospital’s medical director, Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, said in a video showcasing Beyonce’s visit that pneumonia, a treatable infectious disease, is one of the top killers of children in Haiti. Says Gautier of the disease, “Even though it is easily treated, if parents don’t have access because of money for transportation, because of money to pay for antibiotics, and did not show up early, then the children can die.”

Every day, said Gautier, 150 children show up for treatment at the hospital doors. But Gautier says St. Damien Pediatric Hospital doesn’t have the capacity to treat everyone: “It’s heartbreaking sometimes to send children away, but many times we have no choice.”

You can help support St. Damien by purchasing a BeyGOOD Haiti t-shirt. All proceeds will go to helping the hospital, which has been forced to close a wing for lack of funding.

Mother’s Day is here!

HappyMothersDay

On this day, we honor the mothers that have helped to nurture, raise, care for us in our lives.

Sometimes mothers need a little help. This is the case for many of the mothers who bring their sick and often critically ill children to the NPH St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Haiti.

With your support St. Damien is able to provide over 80,000 medical services annually to children and expecting mothers. Many of these children receive care and treatment for malnutrition, cancer, cholera, malaria, congential heart diseases, and more.

It is only through your generous support that we are able to save the lives of these innocent Haitian children and help their mothers who desperately seek the services we provide to their sons and daughters.

In honor of love for all mothers, please consider making a gift today to help us continue to provide these critical services to children in need.

Photo credit: Giles Ashford

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!

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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