On Saturday, November 16, 2013, a long-term patient Andre*, left our earth to receive his healing in heaven. Andre had a chronic disease that kept him hooked to oxygen 24-7. Our prayers are with Andre for eternal rest and for his family. “Mother, please don’t worry. When you pray things will change,” is from a song that Andre composed and would sing to visitors. Due to his condition, Andre was unable to leave the hospital to visit family, but he had a cell phone to be able to speak to his grandmother. St. Damien is honored to have had the opportunity to care for him.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
Three-year-old, Paul, came to St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in September 2013. He was brought by his mother from a town called Grantier, about four hours away, with symptoms of inflammation, diarrhea, vomiting and cough. After testing, it was determined that Paul was suffering from severe malnutrition. This young patient had intense swelling of the stomach, a sign of malnutrition, and it was difficult to live a normal life of a toddler. Paul’s seven siblings were suffering the same illness, but were not as severe and able to be treated at another hospital near to where they live.
Compared to when he arrived to St. Damien’s, Paul has gotten much better. A typical treatment regime for a malnourished child is a combination of IV fluids, medicines, vitamins, nutritious milk and medical peanut butter.
The nurses have commented how Paul is an absolute success! His stomach inflammation is lessening, his color is returning and he is gaining more weight and energy everyday. When Paul’s mother sees her little boy returning to his normal, playful and happy self, she says that she is overjoyed and thankful. We are happy to be part of Paul’s recovery process and know he will be improving daily.
Contributed by Denso Gay, Communication Officer NPH Haiti
We are pleased to announce that St. Damien Pediatric Hospital now has a residency program. Haiti counts approximately 300 pediatricians for the whole country where almost half of the 10 million people are children and adolescents. Saint Damien has the capacity to help the country increase the number of pediatricians in order to decrease morbidity and mortality of children. Saint Damien teamed up with Hospital Bernard Mevs and Université Notre Dame D’Haiti to create this new residency program. Nine pediatric residents have recently joined the St. Damien team and we are very excited to expand their minds and offer experiences for them to become the best pediatric physicians possible! Our aim of this program is to develop innovative and intelligent pediatric leaders in Haiti through education, mentorship and experience within our facilities.
Originally 68 people began the application process to join our program. However, after exams and extensive interview process, only nine made it to the end. September 16th was the official opening ceremonies, followed by a month-long orientation of lectures, classes and full preparation for their three-year program. Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, Dr. Genevieve Arty, Dr. Toni Eyssallene, the Program Director, and the Program Coordinator, Gabriel Denis greeted the nine new residents at opening ceremonies and wished them good luck for the new journey they are about to embark on.
They began their rotations on October 14th and they will be paired with physicians with whom they will shadow for their first year. The program was created with the inspiration and ideas of other residency programs from around the world. A rich program, offering theoretical classes, conferences, journal clubs, morbidity and mortality conferences as well as Grand Rounds, has been thoughtfully prepared. They will get the chance to work with various people in different departments so they get an overall foundation of pediatric care. With each year, the residents will gain more responsibilities and by the end of the program they will have their own patients and caseload.
Gabriel Denis, the Program Coordinator, says, “My hope for this program is that we can create better physicians in pediatrics for Haiti, but not only physicians, also communicators, professors and most importantly, advocates for our patients.”
We wish the best for the residents as they begin their new journey in pediatrics. We hope to be able to continue this program for the years to come so we will need to count on all the support we can get to achieve this noble goal that will help the country as well as improve the level of care provided within the hospital.
Contributed by Avriel Burlot
Communication Specialist, NPH Haiti
The morning mass is always attended by the dead. If their number goes above ten, there are more dead at mass than living.
I have a practice of going to get the dead. I don’t mean just before mass, going to bring their bodies to the chapel floor, to cover them with palls.
But in my mind, I go to find them.
This makes me very mindful of them personally during their requiem mass, especially since it is a daily event, in order for the mass not to become just a routine.
So, I go and get the dead.
To do this, I travel inside of my mind to find them, I imagine the moment of their death, and I try to see them at that moment and show them compassion.
I imagine their un-readiness to die, their confusion and fear, their regrets about their lives. I imagine those they are leaving behind and their desire to cling to them. I try to imagine the dreams undreamt, their lives unlived, the love not yet shared, the joys cut short.
And then I speak to them, as a brother, a friend, a priest, a fellow pilgrim, and I wish them the deep assurance of faith, the light of God, the comfort of heavenly embraces, the trust that Providence will see to their cares on earth. And then the mass begins.
The other day, among the bodies, were two little coffins. The families of these two little ones were present. And as the rhythmic lament of the kyrie began, so did unrhythmic sobbing of the mothers.
As the deliverance songs were sung to the sway of incense and the sprinkling of holy water, so did other choruses of tears and wailing override the liturgy, and lead to a ferocious display of grief.
It lasted so long that I had one thought,
“At the end of the mass when we open the coffins, I want to see the faces of these children who generated so much love in their short lives. They must have been wonderful to produce such grief.”
The sacrament finished, and the eulogies given, we braced ourselves for the new onset of lament that always accompanies the opening of the coffins.
I gazed at the tender young faces, that had not even known five years of life, and I was pierced by their deep sunken eyes.
Cholera the thief,
Cholera the criminal, the stealer of life.
Cholera which can be avoided, treated,
and even driven away.
If you are lucky, that is.
Lucky enough to have clean water, proper community septic systems, humane living environments, access to healthcare.
Here were two unlucky ones,
off to heaven to show God their sunken eyes
and look into His radiant ones,
leaving the hearts of their families torn asunder.
They came to us too late, too sick or already dead.
Cholera is alive and well. These two small children are the latest ones to prove it.
With regret and indignation, let’s agree to keep fighting it with all our might.
May these small children rest in peace, and may their souls before God work tender comfort of their mothers and fathers, their brothers and sisters, their families and friends.
Fr. Rick Frechette, CP
October 3, 2013