Whew! It’s hard to believe that it has been over 10 years since we made our first trip to Haiti in August 1998. I can assure you that we had absolutely no idea of what we were getting ourselves into when that first group of 15 or so hardy souls decided to see how we could help bring rehab to Haiti.
It was a cold, gray day in Salt Lake City on late February 1998. It was a day like most February days, when winter weather has worn thin and dreams of a hot sun, white sand, and blue ocean twirl and twist through our heads like the eddying snow flurries that whirled outside the hospital windows. In between PT sessions, team meetings and rehabilitation unit admissions, a small group of 3 or 4 sat staring bleakly out the window.
“Now is my chance!” I thought. “Hey, have any of you thought about going to do medical missionary work in. uh, the Caribbean?” (That I was thinking of Haiti, the western hemisphere’s poorest country could always come later). Heads turned, chins perked, and eyes began to lose their dazed, glassiness, and show hints of tiny sparks…. Read more…
Our history, in highlights
- First rehabilitation team travels to Haiti
- 14 members divide into two teams, one to Port-au-Prince and one to Les Cayes
- 300 patients evaluated and treated in 10 days in 5 clinics
- Second rehabilitation team travels to Haiti, 42 members divide into three teams
- Over 1000 patients evaluated and treated
- First class set up to teach Haitian clinicians about rehabilitation
- Healing Hands is incorporated into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
- Three rehabilitation teams travel to Haiti
- We open our own clinic, Kay Kapab, in a leased facility, which includes a PT/OT gym, 2 medical exam rooms, a small pharmacy, administrative offices, and 2 classrooms
- Guesthouse includes dining room, kitchen, and five bedrooms to accommodate 22
- Caregiver School revised
- Food For The Poor donates shipping and clinic supplies
- 4 rehabilitation teams evaluate and treat over 3000 patients at Kay Kapab
- Prosthetic shop opens
- Kay Kapab Rehabilitation Technician 1 school opens.
- First class of Rehabilitation Techs graduate December 2001
- patients receive prostheses, 129 patients receive orthotics, and 3 patients receive surgical intervention
- Caregiver school taught by the medical teams
- 17,900 pounds of medical and household supplies are shipped.
- We open Sonia B. Green Center for Education and Rehabilitation, sponsored by Dr. Barth Green and his family. This home provides living quarters for students from the provinces and patients needing extended therapy or prosthetic fitting.
- Research into the the amputee population of Haiti initiated
- Second Tech 1 program graduates September 2002
- Partnership with Health Volunteers Overseas begins to find teachers for Tech 1 program
- Preventive and Public Health Education initiated in the medical waiting area of Kay Kapab
- School Reintegration Program initiated; scholarships enabled 11 students to attend school
- Nine rehabilitation teams travel to Haiti from Utah, Oregon, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Canada. A total of 4818 patients were evaluated and treated at Kay Kapab.
- Teams work with local orphanages to treat children and train staff
- Graduate students of the Tech I program provided 3890 therapy treatments at Kay Kapab
- Sonia B. Green Center is well established, providing housing for 35 patients and 14 students
- 37 students enrolled in school through the School Reintegration Program
- 22 surgeries performed by Dr. Bernard Nau, Dr. Valsant and Dr. Barth Green. 85 patients were seen for post op follow up care after surgery
- Barry M. Smith generously purchases and donates a 6 acre parcel of land with 7 buildings
- Third group of Tech I students graduate in November
- 4000 patients seen in clinic
- Construction begins on a new clinic at the new property. Guesthouse is remodelled.
- Clinic and school construction completed July 2004 with the help of the Canadian military, part of the multi-national UN forces
- Clinic dedicated as the Julia P. Smith Centre for Rehabilitation and Education
- Fourth group of Tech I students graduate.
- 4934 patients seen in clinic, 15% are children
- Therapy staff treated 2612 patients, or 55.51% of the total patients treated at the Clinic this year
- The Orthotics and Prosthetics Department at Kay Kapab Clinic evaluated 496 patients, manufactured 220 devices, including 29 lower extremity prostheses and 6 upper extremity prostheses. There were 133 orthoses and 52 other types of devices made
- We now have 4 volunteer Haitian physicians at Kay Kapab Clinic. Specialties include physiatry (physical medicine and rehabilitation), orthopedic surgery, and internal medicine. The physicians treated 25% of the patients seen at the clinic.
- Healing Hands for Haiti and Medishare http://medi-share.org/ partnered in sponsoring surgeries for hydrocephalic babies. This year 17 surgeries, one orthopaedic corrective surgery and 16 shunt surgeries for hydrocephalic children were performed
- Offered a seminar on sign language in order to enable our staff to communicate with deaf patients and one of our employees who is deaf
- 20 candidates selected to enrol in the Rehabilitation Aide I Program. 15 actually began the course which was taught by 4 foreign teachers (physical therapists) and 9 Haitian teachers ( 7 doctors and 2 teachers from the Department of Linguistics).
- 399 chairs were distributed in Les Cayes, Jacmel, Gonaive, Port a Paix and Cap Haitian
- Generous anonymous donation received to be used toward planning and construction of first rehabilitation hospital in Haiti
- Teams return to Haiti after 6 months hiatus due to security awareness
- Preliminary planning begins for building the Healing Hands for Haiti Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Institute
- Healing Hands for Haiti convenes first International Conference in Miami, Florida.
2007 | 2008
- The two Boards in Haiti and North America come together to form a joint Governance Committee and implement a new governance structure.
- Healing Hands for Haiti celebrates 10th Anniversary with an International Conference in Toronto, Canada, November 6 – 8.
- January 12, Haiti devastated by earthquake
- Emergency Response and Reconnaissance team of specialists from North America travel to Haiti as soon as flights are permitted
- temporary tent clinic erected to continue treating patients
- collaboration with Handicap International in opening a Prosthetic and Rehabilitation Centre while rebuilding planned
- generous grant from Newman’s Own Foundation to purchase new van for volunteer deployment to partner centers
- financial support from Direct Relief International for new, two-storey admin facility and therapy clinic while permanent facilities completed
- generator donated by Physicians for Peace to provide auxiliary power to newly opened clinic
- Architectural and engineering phase of new facilities completed
- International Committee for the Red Cross, Special Fund for the Disabled signs agreement with HHHI to build a $1.5 million outpatient building at original headquarters.