These were the first questions posed to SBH staff during a simulation exercise held at the end of July. The exercise included communication with staff, partners, and the community; principles of triage; and what to do in the days and weeks following an acute emergency.
Since St. Boniface Hospital is the largest and most reliable hospital in southern Haiti, other health facilities look to us for support when a disaster or epidemic strikes. We led the responses to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to the devastating 2021 earthquake. When the earthquake hit, our entire staff mobilized immediately. SBH sent ambulances across the south to deliver medicines, provide first aid, and return with earthquake survivors who required hospital-based care. Together with our partners, we saved many lives.
SBH’s leaders were justifiably proud of their teams, as staff successfully led the emergency response for the region. But, always looking to raise their already-high bar, they also felt there was room to improve the speed and efficiency of the response. Militza Michel, Operations Director, also wanted to think through readiness and outreach across the region. She says it’s been challenging to prioritize disaster preparedness while Haiti is in the midst of ongoing crisis, but the country remains exposed to hurricanes, flooding, landslides, and epidemics as well as earthquakes. And climate change has increased the frequency of extreme weather events.