VHF was founded in 1999 with a mission to provide competent and compassionate healthcare to the people of southwest Haiti and to empower them with resources to pursue their basic right to health and health education.
Our initial project was to create the site, infrastructure and buildings for a rural hospital and clinic in one of the most widely underserved Nippes Department of Haiti. In January 2008, the first part of this goal was realized with the completion and opening of Visitation Clinic. Visitation Clinic has become a model for creating transformative healthcare in rural Haiti. The clinic is an architecturally innovative, energy-efficient building with first-rate medical infrastructure including a medical laboratory, radiology, sonography, pharmacy, computerized medical record system, solar power and satellite internet. Its flexible interior space can be divided into separate exam and procedure rooms or can be opened for an emergency care of ward patients. For instance, recently our region was hit by a large cholera outbreak, and over 70 critically ill patients arrived one morning. They were cared for in every corner of the clinic, and of those who made it to our door, not one life was lost.
The bulk of our medical services are provided by a full-time, all-Haitian medical and administrative staff. They operate the clinic every weekday and provide routine, low-cost, subsidized healthcare to over 1,000 patients per month. In addition, Visitation Clinic was designed to accommodate visiting specialists. This year we have volunteers scheduled for eye clinics, dentistry, cervical cancer screening, pediatric dentistry, and other general services. These visiting teams interact and collaborate with their Haitian medical peers resulting in a natural, organic exchange of ideas and realistic practices.
Finally, Visitation Clinic has become a base for public health outreach to our rural area. This past year we have had programs and groups that have conducted mobile clinics, child de-worming programs in schools, mobile eye clinics, prevention programs in the town center on cholera and HIV/AIDS, and the employment of a community health worker to work with persons living with HIV/AIDS. We have even become an assembly and distribution center for single-family, bucket based water filtration system.
The net effect of the work of the clinic is perhaps best expressed in an unsolicited letter we received from a visiting physician this past year:
We were impressed with the quality of medical care provided to the patients, the diversity of laboratory tests, and the wide variety of medications available at the pharmacy. We were also impressed with the number of patients with chronic diseases that could be taken care of with medications by the clinic (ex. patients that needed daily meds for diagnoses such as hypertension and diabetes).
I was also immensely inspired by the lack of protein malnutrition in the children. I had traveled to this same town in 2007 … at that time we saw quite a bit of caloric and protein malnutrition in the children. During this current week, I saw no protein malnutrition! I am sure that this reflects the addition of clean water, repetitive de-worming missions, the daily availability of health care through the clinic, and the education program in Petitie Riviere de Nippes. This was truly amazing and inspirational for me to see.
This upcoming year will bring new challenges to VHF. A major road-building project will greatly improve the clinic’s accessibility to our poor, rural patients. And they are asking us to provide some of the hospital services that were lost in the earthquake. The life-saving work of VHF in Haiti depends on the support of individuals, churches and groups throughout the US. Our all-volunteer board of directors invites you to join with them in bringing hope and healing to rural Haiti.