On July 3, Partners In Health (PIH) and our Haitian sister organization, Zanmi Lasante (ZL), broke ground in Mirebalais, Haiti, for a innovative teaching hospital. Mirebalais will be a national referral facility, the flagship of our efforts to help rebuild Haiti’s health sector. By the first anniversary of the earthquake—January 12, 2011—the seven buildings of the main hospital campus, comprising 180,000 square feet, will be standing, with work on the interiors begun. Plans call for the hospital to be accepting patients by the end of 2011.
The new hospital will have 320 beds—equivalent in capacity to all 12 of the sites in which PIH currently works in Haiti, combined—and will offer clinical facilities not available at any public site in the country, including an intensive care unit and an operating theatre complex with six operating rooms equipped for thoracic surgery. The original plans for a 108-bed referral hospital for the lower plateau, offering comprehensive, community-based primary and prenatal care as well as treatment for TB, HIV, malaria, and malnutrition were expanded at the request of the Ministry of Health following the January 12 earthquake.
Dr. Alex Larsen, Minister of Health, said “What Haiti needs now are true partners to help us build back better by strengthening our country's public infrastructure. The new teaching hospital at Mirebalais will be a model for our national health system, offering high-quality medical services, a place for our clinicians to study and train, and hope and dignity to all who will seek—and offer—care there. We look forward to building upon our long-standing partnership with Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante with this desperately-needed facility."
Mirebalais Hospital will include not just more beds and operating rooms, but state-of-the-art infection control, wall-mounted oxygen and medical gases, improved diagnostics (digital x-ray and ultrasound), and increased space around the beds to accommodate teaching rounds for medical and nursing students. Partnerships with leading universities and teaching hospitals will support the medical training and education of Haitian clinicians, as well as that of visiting international clinicians. The hospital will include the technological and logistical capacity to support educational exchanges, distance learning and remote collaborations.
Dr. Paul Farmer, co-Founder of PIH, Chair of the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, calls the Mirebalais hospital project “exactly the sort of building back better in Haiti that also seeks to improve the very nature of development assistance. Too often, NGOs and research universities do too little to help create a strong public sector, without which public health and public education will always be anemic.
“For some of us, this hospital is the culmination of a dream dating back a quarter-century, and underlines our commitment to the country and people of Haiti, which is stronger than ever after the earthquake. It is also a manifestation of our integrated model of research, teaching and service, and will serve as a site for all three. Mirebalais is being developed by a broad coalition which includes hundreds of individuals, several foundations, private corporations, Harvard teaching hospitals including Brigham and Women’s, Harvard Medical School, and of course our Haitian colleagues at ZL and the Ministry of Health. We are fortunate to be building upon the lessons learned in ZL's long experience of building infrastructure in Haiti, and to have the support of many old and new partners in this essential effort.”
Dr. David Walton, PIH’s Deputy Chief of Mission in Haiti and a physician at Brigham and Women’s, is leading the project together with Jim Ansara, founder and Chairman of Shawmut Design and Construction: “We are proud to be building a hospital that will offer all Haitians the care they deserve, as well as a place to learn and practice medicine at the highest level. I am grateful for the many partnerships that are making this project possible, and to the many experts and companies offering their skill and materials. It is a privilege to work with the community of Mirebalais, the Government of Haiti and our many partners to make this shared vision a reality.”
Learn more about PIH's work to help Haiti's people build their lives and their country back better following the January 2010 earthquake in our STAND WITH HAITI Six Month Report.