In early February, Dr. Jim Ingvoldstad, Dr. Barbara Robertson, Deb Griffin and Lee

Wilder spent three days at the Bill Rice Clinic. Thanks to a generous grant from the

Presbyterian Thank Offering, badly needed repairs have been made at the Bill Rice


DSC_0252The ancient solar power batteries have been replaced and a new inverter

installed. The clinic now has electricity all day long, which means that the

laboratory equipment can be used without interruption, a refrigerator can reliably

store vaccines and the ultrasound machine is always available.



In addition, the waiting room and labor and delivery rooms have been painted. That is the tangible.

DSC_0153The intangible is the sense of purpose, pride and professionalism among the clinic

staff. Dr. LaPointe, the medical director of the clinic, has set a tone of collaboration

and begins each day with a staff meeting and a brief devotional.

The maternal health program is firmly established under the capable leadership of

Soisilia Bertrand and Vilana Saintecherie with monthly prenatal clinics in 4

communities. Not one woman has lost a baby since June, thanks to this prenatal


DSC_0164Deb, Dr. LaPointe and the two midwives discussed ways to further extend

the reach of the clinic and there are now plans to establish a satellite office in Gros

Mangles, which will be staffed by Soisilia Bertrand, formerly the community health

worker for that village. This will make prenatal care much more accessible on that

side of the island. Francky Charles, the new head nurse, is assuming responsibility

for the monthly training sessions for community health workers and is leading our

vaccination efforts. Now that there is a new motorcycle at the clinic, he is able to

travel to remote communities with the Medika Mamba program, de-worming

protocols and vaccines.

DSC_0674Dr. Fiquita Saint-Paul, our new social year doctor, trained in Cuba and speaks

English! She is eager to work on preventative care and health education. It was

very touching to see her dedication to diabetic wound care and her compassionate

bedside manner. Miss Fleurette Belgarde has joined the clinic as the administrator

and spends most of her days in the pharmacy, collecting patient fees and tracking


After three days of working side by side at the clinic, it was time for the LaGonave

Haiti Summit.

IMG_0942 The third annual meeting was hosted by the Wesleyan Hospital and

representatives from over 15 organizations participated, sharing information,

perspectives and insights. The agenda included presentations on education,

healthcare, sanitation, economic development and agriculture and the LaGonave

Haiti Partnership was well represented. Pere Vil led the education panel with

valuable insights on the ministry of education, national standards and school

management. Dantal Martin, the lay leader of St. Francis and the supervisor of our

adult literacy program, discussed our adult education initiative and stated that

literacy is a social justice issue in Haiti. The challenge for all educators on LaGonave

is secondary education. There are too few secondary schools to serve the island and

the costs to operate secondary schools are prohibitive. There is also a crying need

for vocational education.

The discussion about vocational education was closely tied to a presentation by two

local businessmen about the lack of economic opportunities on the island.

Historically, LaGonave produced enough food to export to the mainland but that

trend has reversed.

We were especially proud of the leadership our medical staff exhibited in the

healthcare discussions. Dr. LaPointe and Dr. Fiquita made valuable observations as

to ways different institutions could collaborate including a standard referral form

for the hospital, standardized formularies and standardized patient information

forms. Soisilia Bertrand made a presentation on our prenatal health program. The

Bill Rice staff had extensive discussions with the staff of the Wesleyan Hospital and

it is clear that these personal relationships will lead to stronger institutional


Submitted by Lee Wilder