BENEFITING: MIDWIVES FOR HAITI INC
On a recent trip to Haiti with Every Mother Counts, we were privileged to witness the amazing work of the Midwives for Haiti, an organization dedicated to reducing maternal and infant deaths in Haiti by educating and empowering Haitian nurses to become skilled birth attendants. One of our stops was the St. Therese Hospital. The maternity wards at St. Therese Hospital are teeming with pregnant women. Many of the 200+ women who deliver here monthly travel long distances- laboring women commonly ride a moto taxi for hours, or walk- to reach the care they need to have a safe delivery. But this was not always the case.
Before Midwives For Haiti began working at Hospital St. Therese, the Central Plateau’s public referral hospital, there was only one obstetrician and one midwife available. They only worked from 8am-4pm. At night, there was no one to care for patients and the janitor frequently delivered babies. With so much in short supply, many patients died and pregnant women did not feel safe here. Over the past decade, however, things have changed. The maternity center has become the clinical training site of Midwives For Haiti’s education program and they pay the salaries of 18 skilled birth attendants to ensure mothers receive quality care here 24/7. Though there is frequently no running water or electricity at night, medication shortages are infrequent and the maternity center itself has received improvements, including more beds, screen doors, and fans. Women still must bring their own sheets, a bucket for their waste, and a family member to provide food and care for them, but mothers come from very far to reach the skilled birth attendants- and the safety and kindness- that they provide. Over 2,000 deliveries now occur here annually.
Despite these improvements, the hospital is understaffed and women are not always seen in a timely manner. Because this is the public referral (and free) hospital for the region, women with high-risk pregnancies are referred here. For many pregnancy complications, time is an enemy and waiting for care can be waiting for disaster. Indeed, women or their infants have died waiting.
To avoid more preventable deaths, Midwives For Haiti created a triage, the first of its kind at the hospital. In January 2017, Mackensia Fontaine was hired as our triage midwife, a graduate of the Midwives For Haiti school who also recently completed the university midwifery training available in Port-au-Prince. Mackensia’s role is vital as she ensures mothers get the care they need, when they need it. A triage midwife strengthens the care the hospital can provide, supports the other staff by ensuring their resources are being adequately utilized, and her knowledge and skills help save the lives of mothers and babies.
Thank you so much for supporting Midwives For Haiti, the work of Mackensia Fontaine, and the families of Haiti.