Program Highlight: Spinal Cord Injury Unit at Hospital Bernard Mevs
The Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Unit at Hospital Bernard Mevs (HBM) offers comprehensive emergency, surgical and rehabilitative care to SCI patients. As a trauma and critical care hospital, Bernard Mevs is uniquely positioned to care for new spinal cord injuries by stabilizing the spine and treating the gunshot wounds, falls and vehicular accidents which cause many of the spinal cord injuries in Haiti.
After stabilization, in collaboration with Project Medishare, patients are taught how to care for themselves when they are no longer able to move their upper and/or lower limbs. The engagement of the family is a crucial part of the program, which ensures that a future transfer home will be a success. In partnership with Project Stitch, the SCI unit offers livelihood activities for patients to return to the hospital after their discharge for sewing classes to enable them to fully support themselves and their families.
Since August 2010, this unique unit has treated over 100 patients, from young teenagers to senior citizens. Before the time of the earthquake in Haiti, the capacity for treating SCI was low, life expectancy was less than a year. Most of the patients discharged from our unit are alive and thriving thanks to the training and medical advances made by the unit and partners across the country.
The director of the unit and Hospital Bernard Mevs’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joanna Cherry, helped design and manage the unit. “ I am very privileged to have been part of the accomplishments of the SCI unit at Hospital Bernard Mevs- we are proud to be helping an under served part of Haiti’s population by using only local staff to rehabilitate patients to the point of independence and to provide counseling and training for their families to care for them at home”.
With assistance from Project Medishare and private donors, the unit has trained physicians, rehab technicians, wound care technicians and nurses to care for spinal cord injuries. The SCI unit is now completely Haitian run with visitors from the hospital’s volunteer program who run teaching sessions.
Youdeline Aspelly, the nurse in charge of the ward, has worked caring for SCI patients since 2011. “The unit is of paramount importance in Haiti as it gives a service to patients that they may not be able to find otherwise. Recovering from a spinal cord unit is difficult and very costly and we have been able to help many patients with this condition.”
Please consider making a donation to the unit, which annually supports the families of the disabled and provides rewarding and advancing work to Haitian medical staff. Each year, HBM treats more patients and reduces the length of stay for new spinal cord injuries as a result of staff training and engagement activities with patients, families and staff.