Antiretroviral therapy reduces the risk of #HIV transmission to babies & saves #children’s lives. #HIVprevention
The NPH Haiti St. Damien Pediatric Hospital has a program for elimination of mother to child transmission (EMTCT) of HIV. In 2015, this program had over 3,500 consults and provided ARTs to over 780 women and children.
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On September 18th, six new pediatricians trained by the consortium NPH Haiti St. Damien Pediatric Hospital, University Notre Dame d’Haiti (UNDH) and Hospital Bernard Mevs/ Medishare, graduated after three years of training. The graduates were:
- Renee Alcee
- Roberson Charles
- Joelle C. Denis
- Frantzy Dieudonné
- Danielle Dorinvil
- Valerie Lallemand
The residency program started in September 2013, to improve the quality of pediatric care in Haiti where there is an estimated one doctor for every 15,000 people, with the most vulnerable being children.
There is a severe shortage of specialty training for medical graduates in Haiti. Only 60% of them have access to a residency program. Furthermore, only 300 pediatricians are in function in a country where 30% of the 10 million inhabitants are children under 15 years of age. St. Damien, with over 20 years of experience in managing pediatric healthcare, decided to combine its efforts with UNDH and Bernard Mevs/Medishare to work at decreasing this severe gap by implementing the residency program.
The graduation ceremony took place at UNDH and started with a prayer, which was then followed by a speech from graduate and chief resident, Dr. Renee Alcé. Many guests, international friends, and family were there to support the graduates who worked hard for the last three years. Dr. Brittany Potts, pediatrician from Ohio represented the St. Damien Collaborative.
Program directors, congratulated the six new pediatricians for their motivation and devotion to achieve their dreams. The residents then offered appreciation plaques to their mentors, as well as to Ms .Margareth Mehu, the coordinator of the program. Mentors who received plaques were:
- Antonia Eyssallenne, Residency Program Director
- Jacqueline Gautier, National Director of St. Damien Pediatric Hospital
- Jerry Bitar and Marlon Bitar, Executive Director of Bernard Mevs/Medishare
- Jude Jean Jacques, Coordinator University of Notre Dame D’Haiti
- Margareth Mehu, Coordinator of the Residency Program at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital
Dr. Renee Alcé, who had been chosen to be the chief resident for her exceptional leadership and interpersonal skills, gave a wonderful speech. She reported that her peers and herself fought until the end of these three years for every single child they were caring for even though resources were limited.
At the forefront of pediatrics in Haiti, St. Damien provides training opportunities in the care of surgical patients, childhood cancer, and many other pediatric specialties available nowhere else in the country. The residency program enjoys support from a network of committed pediatric residency programs, known as St. Damien Collaborative that includes:
- Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron, OH
- East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN
- University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, Minneapolis, MN
- Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Providence, RI
- Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Norfolk, VA
- University of Massachusetts Memorial Children’s Medical Center, Boston, MA
- Dell Children’s Medical Center, Austin, TX
- University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
- Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, Cleveland, OH
- McGill University, Montreal, Canada
In her speech, Dr. Alcé expressed her gratitude to the group on behalf of her colleagues. She also thanked all the Haitian physicians who mentored them during their training at Bernard Mevs Hospital as well as at St. Damien.
St. Damien is pleased to announce that two of the graduating residents, Dr. Renée Alcé and Dr. Charles Roberson, have been hired. Dr. Alcé is working as Chief Resident coordinating the residency program along with the other program directors; Dr. Charles works at the emergency department. Dr Joëlle Denis has been hired at Hospital Bernard Mevs. We are certain that the three others will soon be employed. In the meantime, two are replacing other pediatricians on vacations at St. Damien.
Haiti has made tremendous progress in recent years in its efforts against HIV and AIDS, reducing new infections, lowering AIDS-related deaths and increasing access to treatment. Yet, the small island nation still has a long way to go to be HIV free. Fifty-five percent of all HIV positive people in the Caribbean live in Haiti. As in many places, women and girls are disproportionately affected due to stigma and cultural practices. Young women in Haiti are three times more likely to be HIV-positive than young men. One of the champions leading the charge for an AIDS free generation in Haiti is Dr. Jenny Edouard and her dedicated team at St. Damien’s Pediatric Hospital.
Dr. Jenny Edouard has been fighting for an HIV free Haiti since she graduated from medical school in Port-au-Prince in 2006. She now coordinates a public health and HIV program at the St. Damien’s, a 224-bed pediatric hospital that provides over 80,000 medical services annually to children and their families. Dr. Edouard supervises a community health and HIV program that provides care to over 4,000 children annually with a particular focus on the elimination of mother to child transmission (EMTCT) of HIV.
“We’ve made huge strides towards eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV. Our EMTCT programs have been impactful, practical and effective in reducing HIV transmission in Haiti. Infant mortality has decreased and when mothers take part in the program, their children are given the chance to live HIV free. Soon we hope we’ll see a new, HIV free generation here,” says Dr. Edouard.
Dr. Edouard shares that “EMTCT is a challenge in Haiti. We see women delaying early prenatal care, we have trouble following up with our patients in rural areas, low hospital delivery rates, and most significantly, a stigma around HIV that leaves women afraid their partners may abandon them or resort to violence if they take part in the program. These are the things we are fighting against.”
“The EMTCT program saves lives – it’s that simple. The overall mortality rate of children born to HIV-positive mothers has significantly decreased as a result of this program. Women also find support in a new community free of fear of being stigmatized. They can talk with each other about their fears and concerns openly. Many become friends and educate other HIV positive pregnant women about the risk their infants face and how the EMTCT program can help,” Dr. Edouard recounts.
Since the beginning of St. Damien’s EMTCT program in 2011, Dr. Edouard and her team have worked with over 400 HIV positive pregnant women. The program’s current cohort includes 79 soon-to-be mothers. Dr. Edouard attributes part of the program’s success to its comprehensive approach which integrates HIV testing and counseling, nutrition services, and support for women affected by domestic violence.
“EMTCT services open the door for HIV care and treatment services not only for women, but also their partners and families. We believe that more investment in the EMTCT program could have a significant impact on maternal and child survival in Haiti among HIV positive patients. Despite the many challenges we face each day we are incredibly proud to do what we do and to take care of our patients,” says Dr. Edouard.
“Our HIV program with integrated EMTCT services is working incredibly well. Nearly all of the children of the HIV-positive pregnant women supported by our facility are HIV free. We’ve experienced several unfortunate budget cuts over the previous few years that have led us to lose staff. For this reason, we’re more grateful than ever for partners who are standing by these important programs.”
Photo Credit: Angela Altus
Here are Edna’s reflections after her first week in Akron:
On Monday, May 23, I met an extraordinary woman. Janet Rogers is the director of critical care, emergency departments and specialty care units at Akron Children’s Hospital. Janet is leaving a huge impression on me, starting with the kindness she has shown me throughout my first week.
She introduced me to several other managers and directors who were also very welcoming.
I had the opportunity to attend several meetings with Janet. At the beginning, I didn’t understand how the hospital functioned but after only a short time, I understood so much more than when I started. I was happy to see how everyone works as a team here. Although there are many people involved, they function as a unified team and I was impressed to see how well everything is coordinated and planned.
Janet further impressed me with the way she equitably handles conflict that arises in the workplace. She also never tires of my questions. I never ask questions during meetings, instead when I want to better understand something, I ask Janet about it after the meeting and she is always available to answer my questions.
This week was a great week for me and I hope to continue to take advantage of every minute I spend with the great staff at Akron Children’s, especially Janet.
Thank you Janet and thank you to everyone who has worked with Janet and I this week!
I would also like to thank Dr. Jeff Kempf and Dr. Brittany Potts for allowing me to participate in this beautiful experience in nursing administration at Akron Children’s Hospital and to everyone else who helped develop this training program. I also cannot forget to thank the Rotarians from Ohio and Port au Prince.
St. Damien Pediatric Hospital strives to heal every child that arrives for care. In 2015, we provided over 13,000 consults and over 3,400 children were admitted. Every day is “health day” at St. Damien.
St. Damien is part of the NPH Family. At our NPH homes, over 600 children live with chronic health conditions. Whether it’s treatment for HIV or a life-saving surgery, our local and international medical services team of healthcare professionals provide our children with access to vital services. As part of this process, we support local healthcare staff and promote collaboration among our homes’ interdisciplinary teams to ensure each child receives the best physical and emotional care possible.
“NPH goes to enormous lengths for children who have special and serious medical conditions and disabilities -enormous lengths to take care of them, even life-long.” Fr. Rick Frechette, CP, DO.
In honor or World Health Day, take 2 minutes to watch our updated Healthcare Video…
Eleven children received heart surgery at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital during the week of Feb 21-28th. Led by Gift of Life International, Rotary clubs in Haiti, Akron’s Children Hospital, Haiti Cardiac Alliance and Open Heart Haiti, together this wonderful partnership is able to help Haitian children with heart disease. Our goal is that this program will intensify as Haitian staff are trained to provide care for children in their own country. This is an extraordinary opportunity for St. Damien Hospital to partner with other nongovernmental organizations to continue the mission of providing medical care for children who are the most vulnerable.
This was the third mission that St. Damien has hosted and in total 32 children have received surgery during the past 1.5 years at our facilities. We have a great need for this specialized surgery in Haiti, as over 1,000 children are struggling with heart disease.
Photo credits: Ted Stevens