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Haiti's St. Francis de Sales Hospital is a point of pride for ministry

January 15, 2018

By KIM VAN OOSTEN
Photos by CHRIS RYAN

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti

Haiti St Francis de Sales
The blue roof of St. Francis de Sales Hospital and clinic stands out against the dense urban landscape in Haiti's capital city, Port-au-Prince. Photo Chris Ryan/© CHA

Eight years after an earthquake destroyed St. Francis de Sales Hospital here, leadership of the 200-bed, bustling modern hospital and outpatient clinic that replaced it is moving to ensure it will continue to thrive.

The new hospital, dedicated Jan. 15, 2015, is owned and governed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. Throughout its 100-plus-year history, St. Francis de Sales Hospital has been the principal health care provider for the poorest and most vulnerable people of the Haitian capital.

On Jan. 12, 2010, a massive, magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, devastating much of the country's capital, killing more than 230,000 people and leaving approximately 2 million people homeless. The earthquake leveled 80 percent of the buildings at St. Francis de Sales, including the pediatric and general inpatient wards. An estimated 70 patients, visitors and staff were killed when the hospital buildings collapsed.

Haiti St Francis de Sales
Msgr. Patrick Aris, center, coordinator of the Directors General for St. Francois de Sales Hospital, is working to build and strengthen partnerships that may ultimately allow the hospital to expand its service lines and strengthen its capacity to provide care for the poor and vulnerable.

The replacement hospital, reconstructed in part with $10.1 million in donations from CHA member organizations, has maternity, pediatric, internal medicine and surgery service lines, physical therapy and imaging as well as a 24-hour pharmacy, laboratory and emergency department, said Msgr. Patrick Aris. Msgr. Aris is coordinator of the Directors General for St. Francis de Sales. He is the lead of the three priests appointed by the archbishop of Port-au-Prince to oversee St. Francis de Sales. By end of this year he hopes to expand services to include dialysis and an intensive care unit. He also wants the hospital to open a Center of Excellence in Hernioplasty, or hernia repair.

Haiti St Francis de Sales
Patients wait for tests or test results outside the 24-hour laboratory at St. Francis de Sales Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photos © CHA

Partnership is a primary means for achieving his goals.

"I am wo rking to establish a network of Catholic health facilities in the metropolitan area and I hope partnerships with Bernard Mevs Hospital and Asile Français Hospital," Msgr. Aris said. Both those hospitals are in Port-au-Prince. "Internationally I am in touch with many individuals," said Msgr. Aris, and formal partnerships could spring from these discussions.

Haiti St Francis de Sales
With assistance from a family member, a mother strolls with her twins through the hall of the hospital's sunny pediatric unit.

Bruce Compton, CHA's senior director of international outreach, worked with Catholic Relief Services to oversee construction of the facility and its start-up. He said he was encouraged by a December visit to the hospital.

"I left with a new sense of hope. In the six months since my last visit there has been much progress. You can see a continued evolving of the staff and facilities," he said. "In addition, the support for the hospital continues to grow."

Haiti St Francis de Sales
A guidepost helps visitors navigate the campus.
Photos © CHA

His trip dovetailed with visits from representatives of Creighton University, CRS, the American College of Surgeons and Ascension Global Mission — all of whom were there to provide capacity-building expertise or other assistance to the hospital.

Compton said he learned about a newly formed group, the Association St. Francois, which is bringing together influential supporters from Haiti who are willing to give of their time, talent and money to assist the hospital.

Msgr. Aris launched the Association St. Francois in September to support the mission of the hospital. "ASF should be the eyes, the ears and the arms of the hospital at all levels in our society," he said.

 

 

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