Last month, the day after Tropical Storm Isaac swept through earthquake-ravaged Haiti, staff from St. Damien’s Children’s Hospital in Haiti deployed its Direct Relief Hurricane Preparedness Module into one of the poorest and most vulnerable areas of Haiti—the slum known as Cite-Soleil.
At the beginning of hurricane season in June, Direct Relief sent 15 hurricane preparedness modules to 10 partners in seven countries, including modules to four hospitals in Haiti. The ready-to-deploy modules contain enough medicines and supplies to treat 5,000 patients for one month in case of an emergency like Isaac. The use of the pre-positioned module is an example of preparedness efforts at work as Direct Relief recognizes National Preparedness Month.
With the supplies on hand, St. Damien’s staff was able to care for patients who were injured and sick facing extremely dire conditions. They distributed items from the modules, such as protein bars and infant nutritionals to those who were malnourished and dehydrated; and soap and oral rehydration solution in order to help prevent the spread of cholera .
According to a staff member at St. Damien’s, “the Hurricane Module provided by Direct Relief enabled us to immediately care for the sick and injured without having to wait to find and procure medical supplies. Having these modules on hand makes our job of providing direct patient care much easier.”
Medical care becomes increasingly important in the aftermath of an emergency as people face injuries from falling objects and others require care for everything from water-borne illnesses to dehydration.
With strong winds and heavy rains that caused extensive flooding, mudslides and at least two dozen deaths and many more injuries, this storm was especially devastating for the roughly 400,000 Haitians who are still living under battered and torn tents since the January 2010 earthquake.
Nearly 10,000 people were evacuated and put into government buildings during the storm. Many others had to bear the brunt of the winds and rain in extremely harsh living conditions when homes flooded and families were forced to higher ground.
Many patients turn to hospitals like St. Damien’s during emergencies, which is why it is important they are prepared.
St. Damien’s was founded in 2006 and is a 45,000 square foot, 120-bed facility with an emergency room, surgery and cancer wards, infectious and non-infectious disease wards, a dental clinic, outpatient clinic, and public health center. The staff at St. Damien’s is committed to outreach and providing care for those who are most poor and vulnerable.
St. Damien’s recently built a new hospital in Cite-Soleil called St. Mary’s that provides care for the residents of Cite-Soleil who are most prone to calamity when a hurricane or tropical storm hits. This impoverished and densely populated commune has an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 residents and is generally regarded as one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of the Western Hemisphere.
Cite-Soleil has virtually no sewers and has a poorly-maintained open canal system that serves as its sewage system, which can be a source of water-borne disease following flooding after storm events such as Isaac.