More than two billion people around the world do not have access to surgical care. St. Boniface Hospital’s innovative surgical program has changed that reality for the people of southern Haiti.
Hospitals in developed countries rely on large teams of highly-specialized surgeons to provide care to their patients. But in Haiti, there are only approximately 180 surgeons in the entire country, and only approximately 11% of care facilities have the capacity to provide surgery. Patients in need of urgent surgical care cannot wait for a specialty surgeon to be found, and there simply are not enough surgeons in the country for hospitals to have large specialized teams.
With the opening of SBH’s dedicated Surgical Center in late 2016, funded in part by USAID/ASHA with the generosity of the American people, our capacity to provide safe, accessible surgical care grew dramatically. With modern, fully-equipped operating rooms, dedicated space for pre-and post-operative care, and on-call rooms for the surgical staff to have immediate access to the ORs when an emergency comes in, the SBH Surgical Center is southern Haiti's most extensive surgical facility.
At SBH, our unique model for surgery has revolutionized the level of care patients can receive in a low-resource setting. Instead of relying on large teams of specialty surgeons, we have cross-trained a small team of general surgeons to perform a comprehensive set of advanced specialty procedures. Our team is therefore not dependent on any one individual: any surgeon can step in to perform any procedure a patient may need. The nurses in our operating room are also cross-trained to perform tasks such as sterilization, which increases overall system efficiency since staff has intimate knowledge of and experience with our entire surgical system.
SBH’s surgical team performs over 300 procedures per month. These include common, critical, life-saving procedures like appendectomies, which are routine in the US and other countries with robust health systems, but which many Haitian people have no access to. The team also does wound care procedures, including skin grafts for burn patients. SBH has quickly become the major burn care center for a huge portion of the country.