Kay Fanm Ansent, the mother's waiting home that SBHF operates in Fond des Blancs, provides accommodations for up to 12 expectant mothers with high risk pregnancies. Since many women who come to St. Boniface live over an hour away from the hospital, those with high risk pregnancies are at even higher risk of complications if they wait to come to the hospital until they are in labor. Kay Fanm Ansent gives them a safe, nearby place to stay in the days before they are due to give birth.
Studies from places similar to Haiti around the world show dramatic increases in rates of maternal mortality that is directly related to labor and delivery when women live far from a hospital. Kay Fanm Ansent gives women in southern Haiti a safe, comfortable place to stay before they give birth, and gives them easy access to the Maternal Health Center at St. Boniface Hospital for prenatal check-ups and the full range of birthing services as soon as it is time for the mothers to deliver their babies. It is one of two maternal waiting homes in the south, and the only one with access to round-the-clock surgical care.
Dr. Miliane Clermont, Deputy Director of SBHF's programs in Haiti, explains that "most women who stay at Kay Fanm Ansent come from immediately outside of our catchment area around Fond des Blancs - from Fond des Negres, Miragoane, and Cotes de Fer. They are usually women with few resources who come seeking quality care that they know they can receive at St. Boniface." Those with lower risk factors who come to St. Boniface f0r prenatal care may be referred to Kay Fanm Ansent for just the week before their due date, but some women who come for their first prenatal check in the 8th or 9th month of pregnancy, and are diagnosed with higher risk factors at that time, will stay for the rest of the weeks before they give birth. 2
Belvie Eglise is one expectant mother who is grateful for the opportunity to stay close to the hospital while she awaits the birth of her baby. "My first baby passed away, and this is my second pregnancy," she explains. Because she lost her first baby this pregnancy is considered higher risk, and so she was encouraged to come to Kay Fanm Ansent for the days leading up to her due date. "My husband and I came to St. Boniface looking for medical help we couldn't find near our home. I come from Ti Goave and there are no options for me there - I can't pay to visit the hospital, and I certainly could never pay for services like this."
During an expectant mother's 1-2 week stay at Kay Fanm Ansent they can take part in educational sessions on a variety of topics relating to newborn health, infectious disease prevention, hygiene and sanitation, and general health topics. Ms Rose Andre, who has worked at Kay Fanm Ansent for four years, conducts these sessions at 9am every morning. Since the average length of stay for each mother is about one week she makes sure to rotate topics frequently enough that each mother can benefit from learning about the most important health issues.
One topic Rose covers regularly is infant nutrition and breastfeeding. "Many mothers in Haiti buy powdered milk for their children. Sometimes people think that becomes something is expensive it must also be healthy. So, we teach mothers here that if they take care of their own nutrition, eat proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables, they can breastfeed their children (and provide all the nutrition they need). Every mother leaves here knowing that their babies can find fats, sugars, and vitamin A in breast milk.” They also discuss how breastmilk is safer for newborns in Haiti because formula mixed from powdered milk carries high risks of infection from contaminated water or containers. "Most mothers are happy to learn that," says Rose.
Kay Fanm Ansent has been operating for four years, and Dr. Miliane Clermont says it has made a huge difference in SBHF's ability to care for women with high risk pregnancies. "Women who come from far away seeking a safe place for their delivery used to sleep on the hospital gallery floor at night, waiting to go into labor. Now Kay Fanm Ansent provides them a safe, comfortable place to stay. "