“Everyone really came together to ensure that the move was a success” head NICU nurse Miss Rose Pascale says with a smile as she looks around SBH’s newly renovated pediatrics department. Sixteen new inpatient beds. A designated room to treat severe malnutrition. A spacious NICU with 36 incubators, ready to deliver lifesaving interventions to our youngest and most vulnerable patients. With this facility, the SBH pediatrics team can yet again raise the bar on the level of care they provide children in southern Haiti.
SBH’s pediatric department is a lifeline for families in southern Haiti. Without our services—including the only fully-functional NICU and 24/7 emergency care in the region—parents would have nowhere to go when their child becomes ill. The cost at other facilities is far too high, the lines too long, and their child can be turned away for any reason. So, no matter how long it takes, parents come from across southern Haiti to access our care. Here, they know their child’s life can be saved.
But with just nine inpatient beds and a tiny, cramped NICU, our old pediatrics ward was constantly at or over capacity. Then, in 2016 Hurricane Matthew damaged many of Haiti’s care facilities, and in 2018 Doctors Without Borders closed its maternity hospital. The number of children in our pediatrics department continued to soar as patients from these facilities traveled to Fond des Blancs for treatment. Determined to never turn any child away nor lower our standard of care, the only option was to build bigger and better.
Thanks to generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and expert construction by our partners at Build Health International, the renovated pediatrics department is nearly twice as large as before. Staff can now easily move between beds, and no longer have to worry about dangerous overcrowding. And the bright, spacious rooms create a more welcoming environment for our young patients, who often feel scared of being in the hospital. For Miss Pascale, space is paramount in the NICU. She said, “Something I really like about this space is that we can separate the babies who are septicemic or have difficult cases. The supplies that we need are also more accessible to us. Everything is one place.”
The new pediatrics department is now humming with activity 24 hours per day. No matter how late into the night or how complex the treatment, Miss Pascale and her team are here to make Haiti’s children well. This is what they deserve. A chance to go home healthy, to go to school, to run around and play. We’re proving that’s possible in southern Haiti, one child at a time.