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My Haitian Health Care

July 26, 2011

One of my concerns before coming to Haiti was medical care.  Although I have few ongoing problems, I am aging and things crop up from time to time.  My biggest concern was care for my eyes.  I have glaucoma and therefore require careful monitoring to avert irreparable damage.  It seems my disquietude was without basis.

Over the past week I have had my first contacts with the available medical system here.  First I needed a physical to apply for my Permis.  Bryan recommended Dr. Yves, a Haitian doctor he knew.  The man was wonderful.  He was very professional, thorough, unhurried and personable.  We found time to visit a bit and discuss what we are doing in Haiti, and explored possible ways we could help one another.  His fee — $12.50.

Yesterday we took Preval, one of our workers to the same clinic.  He had driven a steel splinter into his finger and it had become quite infected.  The doctor was away, but his nurse, who is also his wife, provided excellent care.  She gave Preval an injection of a broad-spectrum antibiotic, and provided a week’s supply of an oral antibiotic as well as a supply of ibuprofen.  Total cost — $17.75.  Again we visited a bit and talked about some problems that have cropped up for them.  They had been providing medical services to a large mission nearby, but the previous evening the mission told them they have contracted their onsite clinic to a large American firm and no longer require the services of the local doctor.  The woman told us she wasn’t worried, that she puts all in God’s hands, but added that they will have to find other means to provide funding for their daughter’s university education; income from the mission clinic had been designated for that purpose.  As we left we promised to pray for them.

From there we went to New Vision’s clinic to see Dr. Kerry.  You can read all about his clinic by following the link in the blogroll in the sidebar on the right side of this page.  The doctor took wonderful care of me, every bit as good as my ophthalmologist in the Okanagan did.  He checked my intraocular pressures, and visually scanned my retinae.  He suggested I change to an eye drop that is much more readily available here than one of those I was using and provided me with a generous supply of both this medication and the other I use.  He then arranged another appointment in a month to assess the effectiveness of the new drops.  No charge.

Today we took Preval back to the doctor to have the infected finger lanced.  It was a rather gruesome procedure as due to the infection, anesthesia was not possible.  The finger was already terribly painful and the look on Preval’s face and his body vibrating told me what he was going through.  After a rest to recover from the lancing, Preval received another antibiotic injection and a prescription for tetanus toxoid since the doctor had none in stock.  Since I was running low on my own prescription medicines, I inquired if the doctor might have what I needed.  He did not.  Today’s bill — $5.00.

We then went to the hospital in Pierre Payen.  They did not have the tetanus serum available.  As for my medications, they told me they were pretty sure they had what I needed, by their med room was locked and could not be accessed until a team of American doctors arrives on August 8.  We then went to a pharmacy in Saint Marc where we got the tetanus toxoid for Preval, but were informed they had only a small supply of an equivalent to one of my meds, and that I was unlikely to find the other in Haiti.  The meds I take are not uncommon; they are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in Canada.  We then went back to the hospital in Pierre Payen to have Preval’s immunization administered.

So the system here has its pluses and minuses.  Good care is available, but access to medication is a problem.  I will have to work out alternative ways to get what I need, having others bring it in for me and/or bringing in a large supply myself.

As I mentioned in my last post, apparently Haiti agrees with me.  I eat healthier for the most part and I sleep better here.  I still don’t get enough exercise, but I’m hoping to change that in the near future.  Walking in the mountains is a good workout.  As I wrote in my last post my blood pressure would be good  for a 19-year-old.  I have shed over 20 pounds.  My eye exam revealed that my pressures are well within acceptable range and lower than they have been for years.  My blood sugar levels are normal.

The key to my Haitian health care?  I am under the care of the Great Physician.


I was up to Cannot with Barb again this afternoon and thought I’d share a few pictures.  We visited with a number of people including Ti Dwèt (Little Finger) the witch doctor I mentioned in my post about Cannot.

Breaking rock into gravel is a way of making money for some of the people of Cannot.

This baker makes fabulous bread. He had hundreds of small loaves baked when we got there. A dollar and a quarter got me ten. We couldn't wait to get home; we ate some of them on our way back. I wish I could get up there more often.

Both these grandmothers are blind due to cataracts. Barb makes sure the are all right, prays for them and sees to it that they have a few things to make them a bit more comfortable.

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