In 2014 we began a Partnership-wide effort to improve the health of women and their babies in the ten communities that we serve on the island of La Gonave. First, a variety of existing programs at Bill Rice Clinic were strengthened through improved training and salary support (community health workers and matrones). Secondly we interviewed candidates for a new role- midwives or certified birth attendants.
Two community health workers were chosen and provided with a stipend and tuition to attend a 10 month training program in Hinche, through Midwives for Haiti (https://www.midwivesforhaiti.org/ ). They completed their program in December, 2013 and returned to La Gonave to work from the Bill Rice Clinic. Together with our new Medical Director, Dr. Saintange Lapointe, a new nurse, Mr Charles Francky (whose focus is on childhood malnutrition and vaccinations), as well as the existing staff, there was a new sense of mission and purpose. Mobile maternal- child clinics were born.
Next we were blessed with some generous funding from partners, the Presbyterian Women Thank Offering, the Medical Benevolence Foundation, a grant from Vitamin Angels, a new motorcycle and we were off. Literally.
Usually the maternal mobile clinic visits Lotore on the third Friday of each month. Dr Lapointe, Nurse Francky, Community Health Worker Mdme Guervilier, and Midwife Mdme Bertrand arrive and work in a classroom at Ste. Barnabas School. They examine, counsel , treat and vaccinate pregnant women and their children. They identify and treat malnourished children through the Medika Mamba program. Dr. Lapointe is also able to see any emergencies that might need attention.
During a partner visit May 28- 30, we saw the first fruits of our plan. We combined an adult, pediatric and veterinary clinic to augment the services usually provided by the Bill Rice staff. Our US pediatrician, Dr. Gram Praytor was able to provide care to 60 children, many of whom were infants born receiving prenatal care through the Mobile Maternal Clinic. All babies were born at home. All received prenatal vitamins, a clean birth kit, blood pressure monitoring and tetanus vaccination. All babies lived; all mothers lived! Only one woman had to be referred for delivery at the Wesleyan Hospital in Anse a Galets- a 2 hour drive down the mountain.
A touching moment occurred when Dr Praytor carried one of the thriving and happily babbling babies down to the adult clinic room after his exam to show Midwife Soisilia Bertrand and the entire Clinic staff the fruits of their labor. A perfect well baby check after consistent prenatal care; the circle was complete. Healthy moms and healthy babies! What a gift to the families in this remote community, what a joy to be a part of.