The building was named after Boise, Idaho, because the Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Boise sponsored a large part of its construction through Project Haiti. Its 18 rooms over two levels were originally intended to house volunteers and visitors. After a year and a half of being as such, the lower half of the building was converted from its original use to meet a growing demand, a common occurrence in Haiti.
Unlike in developing countries where children can be discharged from the hospital after their condition is no longer critical, many of the patients at St. Damien must remain on site through the entire duration of their recovery. We cannot be certain that the patients will receive proper nutrition, correctly follow the prescribed medical treatment, and/or be able to return for follow-up care if they are released from our care before they are 100% healthy. Thus, the average stay at St. Damien hospital is two months and those who are not always in need of a doctor’s constant supervision are occupying beds that could be used by more severely ill children. In order to alleviate some of this strain, malnutrition and tuberculosis patients, whose stay can be as long as six months, are moved to the bottom half of Kay au Bois for the final phase of their recovery. There, not only are they freeing up expensive hospital beds for more children, but they are also in an environment that is much less clinical. Surrounded by beautiful flowering plants and many toys to stimulate their minds and hasten their recovery, the house is much more hospitable to the children and their parents.
The program was started in July of 2008 and by the same time in 2009, the hospital was admitting an average of 15 more children each month as compared to the year previous. Also, during the day, the nursing staff are able to use their time most efficiently by providing educational lectures to the parents on how to better care for children from proper nutrition to the warning signs of when to bring a sick child to the hospital.
In Haiti, clean, beautiful facilities have never before been for the poor, those who live on the scraps and the trash discarded by the rich. For this reason specifically, St. Damien hospital is expertly landscaped with beautiful tropical blooms, the hospital is bright, sunny and breezy, and the maintenance staff work tirelessly to keep it clean. For our patrons, those who are used to receiving the scraps, there is a remarkable pride evident on their faces and in their posture when they step onto the grounds of St. Damien. Our mission is to not only treat the clinical ailments, but the spiritual condition as well. This is especially important for our malnutrition patients. It has been clinically proven the bright colors and positive stimulation will speed up their recovery both physically and mentally. For this reason in particular, it is such a joy to visit the children at Kay au Bois; to watch they progression toward health and to experience the positive energy their childlike attitudes provide.