This December I’d like to share a story of one woman’s super sized hope and courage, and the ways in which our partnership’ s expanded healthcare network saved her life.

Mrs O is a 44 year old who lives in one of the remote mountainous neighborhoods on LaGonave. In the past she faithfully attended the 2-3 remote clinics a year that US partner, All Saints Pawleys Island, provided at the Saint Barnabas church and school in the community of Lotore.

May 2015 029She would come with her shy, sweet smile complaining of abdominal pain and fatigue. The Bill Rice Clinic (BRC ) doctor and I were unable to do a full examination of her in the classroom of the school where we held the clinic. We ordered some very limited tests and found she was anemic and had high blood pressure. We gave her medicine and sent her on her way, telling her to come back and see us in 4 months if this didn’t help. And she always came back! It broke my heart to see her walk out to her husband, shaking her head. He would take her arm and the two would set off down the dusty red road, an 2 hour walk back to their home.

But then something changed. Two women went for midwife training and became the catalyst for BRC to begin monthly mobile  clinics.  The  BRC staff went to some of the most remote communities in the catchment areas.
At the next US partner visit to Lotore an OB/Gyn doctor joined the team; working with the midwife the two of them were able to see almost 100 women, most of whom who had never had an exam before. One of them was the hopeful Mrs. O, who was found to have a large pelvic mass. What to do? Dr Karen Markley said, “Oh, if she could just have an ultrasound.”  “Wait, I think she can” I said, recalling the plans of Atlanta’s Dr Barb Robertson to bring an U/S to the BRC.  Dr LaPointe consulted with the Community Heath Worker as to how to communicate the date to Mrs. O.  Fast forward a year.  Mrs O had her ultrasound, returned to January mobile clinic, got a referral to the Wesleyan hospital for a surgical consultation and returned to Lotore for the May mobile clinic with the estimated cost of her surgery. Finally this October she received surgery to remove a large mass when Dr Jim Ingvoldstad of Atlanta travelled to La Gonave to see patients. The clinic staff and the CHW from Lotore located Mrs O and got her to the hospital for the surgery and a generous donor from the partnership paid the small hospital charge.
These stories happen more frequently than one might imagine. Our Haitian friends work so hard to get care, our partners work so hard to provide it, and with a tremendous amount of complicated collaboration we help who we can. But, it is through donors like you that these things can and do ultimately happen.
Partnership is not just part of our name. It is at the core of what we do. Thank you for being a part of this important partnership, a partnership of presence and more, with the people of La Gonave.
For all you have done in 2015, and for all you will do in the future, we wish you the best for your holidays. “Thank you” doesn’t begin to say enough.
Leslie Jordanger
for the partnership