"A Big Miracle"—The New Permanent Surgical Program at HEI/SBH

HEI/SBH has always been driven to provide the best care to our patients, despite the challenges of working in rural Haiti. For years we welcomed teams of visiting volunteer doctors who provided much-needed surgical care to our patients. But we knew that this model was not providing enough access to surgical care to meet the demand in our community. Something more permanent was needed.

That’s why we were thrilled to have Dr. Luther Ward join the team in Fond des Blancs in August as our first permanent surgeon. Dr. Ward comes to us from the University Hospital in Mirebalais, where he spent two years as part of the Global Surgery fellowship at Harvard Medical School, treating some of the most challenging surgical patients in the country. Dr. Ward is no stranger to the challenges of providing surgical care in resource-poor settings like Haiti, and he is fluent in Creole.

Luther ward

The experienced gynecological surgery team at SBH has enthusiastically embraced broadening their skill set to general surgery under the guidance of Dr. Ward. From hernias to skin grafts to tumors, the team already has patients booked through 3-4 months out for non-emergency surgeries. And for patients with urgent needs, there is finally surgical treatment available where none was accessible before.

Surgical team smiling

Surgical Care Where and When Patients Need It

Lociania, a 60-year old woman living in Fond des Blancs, is one patient who waited with eager anticipation for Dr. Ward’s arrival. She had been first diagnosed with a tumor in her breast in August. “I didn’t have enough money to go to Port-au-Prince [for treatment], and nowhere to stay when I would be there. I waited, and I heard people talking about a surgeon coming to St. Boniface, so I was hoping he could do something for me…. I was depressed about my situation, and almost felt hopeless before I heard there would be a surgeon coming to Fond des Blancs.”

Lociania had a mastectomy this fall to treat her breast cancer. She is home recovering now and is hopeful she will not need further treatments. Lociania is so grateful for the opportunity to receive care in her home community. “St. Boniface is the only hospital I’ve been to…. It is my hospital.”

Surgical center foundation

The new Surgical Center at SBH, under construction, February 2016.

A Future Home for Surgery at St. Boniface

With the construction of the new Surgical Center currently underway, our capacity to provide more surgical care, and treat more complex cases, will only grow. Your support of this new program is invaluable to its success. We are in the process of starting a surgical residency program for Haitian doctors, with the goal of having a small group of Haitian surgical residents starting rotations through SBH’s services this year, building up a pipeline of trained doctors who will set a new standard for surgical care across Haiti.

Dr. Ward knows that the key to saving lives through surgery is being able to provide local access to quality care. By increasing the capacity of our surgical program, our supporters are on the path to helping us do just that. As Lociania says, “I wouldn’t have imagined being able to get this type of service or this quality service here so soon. It was through the grace of God… This is a big miracle happening in Fond des Blancs.”