The Lo Torre Clinic on La Gonave, Haiti
The Community of Lo Torre
Lo Torre is situated on the southernmost crest of La Gonave Island at altitude of ~2000 feet. As the crow flies it is actually closer to Point a Raquette than Anse a Galet. Lo Torre consists of approximately 11 neighborhoods all with limited access to water, healthcare or medication. There is a local community health worker (CHW), Yvenia Saint Cyr who is funded through the La Gonave Haiti Partnership (LGHP) at Bill Rice Clinic. There is no electricity or system of sanitation. The character of the area is very rural. There are minimal opportunities for employment; most income is earned through farming and local commerce. It is a 2+ hour drive west, then south from Anse a Galet.
History of the Partnership and Clinics
The St. Francis church of La Gonave has partnered with All Saints Anglican church of Pawleys Island SC for 20 years to establish and maintain St Barnabus church and primary school in LoTorre. The clinic for LoTorre evolved as an outreach of this partnership. Every four months a multidisciplinary team coordinated through All Saints travels to the community and sets up a 3 day clinic in the school’s classrooms. A fully staffed clinic will treat approximately 700 patients on a trip. A Haitian physician and nurse from the Bill Rice clinic travel up with the American team. The local CHW as well as other young adults from the community are employed during the clinic days to assist with patient care including lab testing, equipment management, registration, translation and cooking. Over time the clinic effort has developed into a truly Haitian/American team.
Each clinic trip provides a pediatric clinic, a dental clinic and an adult clinic. Because there is no access to over the counter or prescription medications the American team purchases all medication in the US, packages them in per-patient bags with instructions in Kreyol. Patients register with the church lay minister and pay for care on a sliding scale. Medications are provided free of charge. All supplies, including food, water, gasoline, sleeping bags, dental chairs, etc. are packed and transported up the mountain in the aging “ambulance” and supply trucks. It is a physically demanding effort for everyone.
The dental clinic is coordinated by Dr. David Grabeman of Pawleys Island SC. He is assisted by 3 members of the Lo Torre community who provide cold sterilization of equipment and manage patient flow. When a second dentist travels, the clinic is able to run 4 chairs at a time. Care is limited to extractions and management of abscesses, fluoride treatment and teaching. Patients are treated with local topical and injected anesthetic and provided with antibiotics and pain medication to take home as needed. American volunteers assist by preparing trays and equipment for the dentists and comforting patients.
The pediatric clinic is coordinated by Dr. Amanda Drosieko of Pawleys Island SC. She is assisted by a translator and an American nurse or other volunteer. The clinic provides episodic care, as well as treatment for malnutrition, parasites and chronic conditions such as asthma and anemia. Mothers are provided with medication for fever, pain and vitamins if needed. Children receive immunizations through a clinic coordinated by WorldVision and nutrition assessment through the Medikamamba program.
The adult clinic is coordinated by Dr. William Fairey of Pawleys island SC. It is the highest volume clinic and sees 300-500 patients per trip. Patients are registered by Haitian staff and vital signs are obtained by the Bill Rice Clinic nurse and the CHW, Ms. St. Cyr. Patients are seen by American and Haitian doctors, American nurse practitioners and registered nurses from both the US and Bill Rice clinic. Basic finger stick glucose and hemoglobin testing is provided by Lo Torre employees. All patient meds and diagnoses are entered into a database stateside to provide information for inventory, follow up and efficacy of the efforts.
Once a year a Haitian/American veterinary team is provided to the community which augments the day to day care for livestock provided by the LGH Partnership through Jean Thoney. Veterinarians and technicians provide immunization, deworming, castration and emergency care at the St Barnabus school and out in other gathering areas of the community. There is always a great deal of excitement and energy when the vet team is visiting. The school’s “parking lot” is filled with donkeys, pigs and goats to awaken us each morning.
Long Term Goals
The team has formed a 501(C)3 called “Logos LaGonave” in order to channel funds raised in a transparent manner. We hope to purchase land and construct a permanent clinic in the Lo Torre community. The excellent reputation of the Bill Rice Clinic in Nouvelle Cite inspired us to dream of a clinic staffed with Haitian doctors, nurses, agents and technicians to meet the day to day health needs of the community. We envision augmenting care with American specialty medical teams until the Haitian medical system can one day supply adequate specialists of their own. Our novel system of mapping patient houses using GIS and house addresses has enabled us to develop not only an adult patient medical database, but the beginnings of a community census that allows visualization of population density by neighborhood, using a GoogleEarth overlay; this will aid us and other groups in choosing advantageous sites for clinic buildings and water systems. We hope to add pediatric and dental patient information to our database in the coming year. This will allow us to follow the health of the community across the lifespan.
- Financial Donors- to purchase medications for each clinic (approximately $ 7500 per trip for meds and baggage charges), to assist patients who are referred to hospitals for care, to assist the LGH Partnership in purchasing/maintaining transportation for teams and supplies, to build a permanent clinic.
- Health Care Providers- especially optometrists, ophthalmologists, family practice/emergency physicians and nurse practitioners, dentists, pediatric physicians and nurse practitioners,OB/GYN physicians and nurse practitioners, farm animal veterinarians.
For more information please contact team member Leslie Jordanger : firstname.lastname@example.org