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BWH residents training in Haiti last week witnessed the laying of the cornerstone for a national teaching hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti—an event that symbolizes a hopeful future for the country and an opportunity for BWH to strengthen its relationship with Haiti even more.
“The Brigham already has strong ties with Haiti, and we hope to advance that relationship even further with new opportunities for teaching the health care professionals of Haiti and in providing care,” said David Walton, MD, MPH, of BWH’s Division of Global Health Equity and deputy chief of mission in Haiti for Partners In Health (PIH).
Walton is leading the planning for the 180,000-square-foot hospital, which will open its doors to patients toward the close of 2011. When complete, National Teaching Hospital will include an intensive care unit and an operating theater complex with six operating rooms equipped for thoracic surgery—services not yet available at any public site in Haiti.
“We’re trying to push the envelope of what’s done and what’s possible in Haiti, particularly in the public sector,” said Walton, who is working with PIH in partnership with the Haitian government and Ministry of Health. “Our goal is to create access to medical care for the poor.”
The 320-bed hospital also will provide comprehensive, community-based primary and prenatal care, as well as treatment for TB, HIV, malaria and malnutrition. In addition, the facility will feature cutting-edge infection control systems, wall-mounted oxygen and medical gases, improved diagnostics (digital X-ray and ultrasound) and solar panels to power the facility.
The hospital is an integral part of PIH’s long-term, post-earthquake rebuilding efforts and will help train the next generation of Haitian health care professionals. It will supplement the efforts of the teaching facilities in Port-au-Prince, many of which were destroyed in the earthquake and will take years to rebuild. Partnerships with teaching hospitals and universities in the U.S., including BWH and Harvard Medical School, will support the medical training and education of Haitian clinicians.
“For some of us, this hospital is the culmination of a dream dating back a quarter-century. It underlines our commitment to the country and people of Haiti, which is stronger than ever after the earthquake,” said Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, chief of BWH’s Division of Global Health Equity and co-founder of PIH. “The hospital will provide the high-quality health care services that Haitians need and deserve.”
Since the earthquake, about 20,000 people are said to have migrated to the Mirebalais area from Port-au-Prince. National Teaching Hospital will immediately serve at least 160,000 residents when it opens.