Building Back Better in Haiti

Image from Healing Hands

With assistance from Direct Relief International, Healing Hands for Haiti opened its doors Monday at the new Klinik Kay Kapab, Haiti’s largest physical rehabilitation center, offering comprehensive rehabilitation care for adults and children.

Prior to the massive 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Healing Hands was the sole provider of prosthetics, orthotics, and related rehabilitative services in the country. The earthquake destroyed its facility while simultaneously causing an increase in need for services among newly injured patients.

The newly rebuilt facility, led and staffed by Haitians and supported by visiting specialists, is a one-stop shop for fabricating and fitting prosthetics and orthotics, providing physical therapy and rehabilitative services, and training and education for caregivers.

While other organizations that provided assistance immediately after the earthquake are planning exit strategies, Dr. Riché Zamor, executive director of Healing Hands said, “We are here to stay.” He said that with an estimated 50,000 amputees in Haiti before in the earthquake and an unknown number after, their ability to continue providing artificial limbs, orthotics and physical therapy has helped hundreds of Haitians regain mobility following the devastating disaster.

The needs in Haiti are numerous. The hilly landscape and jagged street surfaces can make mobility for even the healthiest of people a challenge. Not only do many of the patients lose limbs to conditions such as untreated diabetes and infections, cultural reasons often leave the people with handicaps shunned from society, Dr. Zamor said.

Patients gain access to a better quality of life with quality medical products. “This is not any lesser in quality or technique than you would see all over the world or here in Santa Barbara” said Steven Fisher, M.D., board president of Healing Hands.

With funds from a variety of donors, including a $1 million commitment from Direct Relief – $700,000 of which has already been disbursed – Healing Hands has been able to open a temporary post after the earthquake, rent a facility while rebuilding an new one and have funds to complete the new facility, said Andrew MacCalla, Direct Relief’s Emergency Response Manager.

“We were fortunate to be able to provide extensive financial support to Healing Hands because of the outpouring of generosity two years ago,” said Brett Williams, Direct Relief’s International Programs director. “We invested heavily because Healing Hands is the only long-term source of support for people with lifelong disabling conditions. Regaining mobility gives a person a chance to make it,” said Williams.

Roughly one third of Direct Relief’s total cash grants provided have gone to Healing Hands.

Over the past two years, Direct Relief has provided over 1,000 tons of life-saving medications and medical supplies valued at $70 million wholesale and continues to provide its medical distribution program serving 115 hospitals and clinics across Haiti.

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