Pwoje Espwa’s Medical Program
Our Clinic – Klinik Espwa
Over the past several years, hundreds of children have passed through the doors of Klinik Espwa, which opened in 2007 to serve the comprehensive medical needs of the children in our care at Pwoje Espwa Sud. Acute medical care is also offered to children who attend our schools, and to Espwa staff and their families free of charge. Children and adults from the surrounding neighborhoods who come to our clinic for help are offered treatment as an outreach program. They are asked to pay a small fee, though patients are never turned away if they cannot pay. The clinic is staffed by a Haitian physician, 3 registered nurses, and several nursing assistants and is open daily. A public health team of older youth assists with peer education. The house mothers in our dormitories are alert to changes in a child’s condition and are intimately involved in our preventative and acute health-care programs.
June 15, 2012, marked the official opening and move into our newly-constructed and upgraded clinic facility. The staff at the Klinik typically sees 20 to 30 patients daily, and when visiting medical teams come, they’ll see more than 100 patients in a day. They may treat adults with diabetes, hypertension or arthritis; children with pneumonia, intestinal parasites, and gastrointestinal illnesses; or expectant mothers from the nearby birthing center. On school days it’s typical to see students with such ailments as headaches, infections, or anemia. Some of the more serious cases they see are malaria, typhoid fever, and an occasional HIV patient. And there is, of course, a steady stream of resident children with cuts, scrapes, lacerations needing stitches, and several broken bones every month. (Picture over 400 boys and girls playing outside everyday!)
Acute medical problems are treated in our clinic if at all possible. Minor surgical procedures, casting, IV therapy, and general medical care are now available. If one of our resident children has a serious illness that cannot be treated, we take him into town to a specialist or to the hospital, and we pay for his care. Before we had a clinic and the great staff that we have now, daily visits to the hospital, lab, and doctors’ offices were common and quite expensive for us.
In addition to the basic medical care provided via Klinik Espwa, we have several community health programs to help minimize the overall occurrences of preventable diseases. Our public health offerings include cholera, tuberculosis and malaria prevention, HIV screening and education, as well as the importance of dental hygiene.
Caring for Espwa’s Children
When new children enter the residential program at Pwoje Espwa, they are sent to the Klinik for a comprehensive health assessment, during which they are screened for such illnesses as tuberculosis, HIV, intestinal parasites and skin infestations. They also receive assessment of their dental needs, growth and their nutritional condition as well as a review of immunization status and a tetnus vaccine. In addition, all children receive quarterly treatments for parasitic infections and are reviewed annually for general overall health. It is estimated the cost for us to provide medical care per child per year is approximately $360.
Many of the children often come from situations where they have survived emotional and physical abuse, deprivation of love, and a lack of nutrition and health care. Some children have significant post-traumatic psychological issues. We have recently funded a staff psychologist to help meet the many needs. Restoring health is fundamental to our goal of allowing children to develop their talents and to become productive citizens.
In the Beginning…
Before this tiny building became the original Klinik Espwa, it was previously used as a classroom, a carpentry shop and even a chicken coop! Once converted, the clinic consisted of one large room divided into two consultation areas. The smaller of the rooms served as a medical records office and a pharmacy, which has a fairly complete stock of donated and purchased medicines. The other room housed a one-bed infirmary and a lab. The waiting room was four concrete benches outside. It was a cozy space but woefully inadequate to meet the many medical needs we face at Pwoje Espwa.
The New & Expanded Clinic
We are most excited about our new and expanded clinic which was completed in June, 2012. This facility was made possible by the support of many donors for which we are extremely grateful; this is an answer to prayers. The flexible design of the new clinic allows us to greatly enhance our services. The new building houses our first permanent space for dental treatment, multiple exam rooms and a larger area where we can do minor surgery, an infirmary where sick children can stay overnight (previously not available), and an area devoted to public health education. There is also an X-ray room, a small laboratory with increased capability, and a pharmacy. This new building will help us keep up with our daily call to provide care to our own residents, villagers, and pediatric cases from the nearby birthing center.
Visiting medical professionals from abroad enhance our program by providing direct medical care to patients, consulting with clinic staff in areas of their expertise, and by offering special services such as surgical, dental, or eye care. Often, these professionals visit over and over again, and are an invaluable asset to our program. Our new expanded clinic space will allow visiting medical teams to be more effective and will increase their ability to hold community clinics, caring for many.
Support our Clinic and Medical Program
Donations for sustainability of our medical program and clinic are an ongoing need and are critical to allowing us to provide adequate medical care for the children. As with all of Free the Kids’ work, it is your continued support that makes life-saving programs like this one possible.
If you are a medical professional and would like to volunteer your time and skills at Klinik Espwa, please contact: Jack Reynolds at email@example.com.