The Future of Neurosurgery in Haiti
Dr. Ernest J. Barthélemy, MD, MPH, MA is a fellow in Neurotrauma at UCSF and a long-time friend and volunteer of Project Medishare. Originally from Brooklyn, Dr. Barthélemy is Haitian-American (both his parents hail from Grand Goâve) and has chosen to support the work we do because he believes in our capacity building programs and the tremendous impact they have in Haiti. Recently, Dr. Barthélemy traveled to Hospital Bernard Mevs to work alongside Dr. Yudy Lafortune, one of only three neurosurgeons in all of Haiti, who has been working and training at the hospital since 2017.
Project Medishare is able to continue our capacity building programs, such as the neurosurgery fellowship program, thanks to dedicated volunteers such as Dr. Barthélemy, who take time out of their busy schedules to travel to Haiti to train and mentor Haitian doctors and coordinate donations of critically needed medical supplies. Dr. Barthélemy urges those looking to make a difference in Haiti to focus on “treating acute problems, such as earthquake recovery, via donations of equipment for the hospital.”
Haiti has long faced a lack of educational and advanced training opportunities to develop the doctors, nurses and medical professionals needed in a sustainable health care system. As Dr. Barthélemy put it, Dr. Lafortune is “the future of neurosurgery in Haiti, embodied in a person,” and describes him as “the product of a program designed to produce the first and only locally trained neurosurgeon in the country.” On his most recent trip, he assisted Dr. Lafortune with ER consultations, head trauma consultations (of which the hospital has seen an overwhelming number in the wake of the August 14th 7.2 magnitude earthquake), hydrocephalus cases and spinal decompressions.
He remarked that this trip was a successful one, and that like most of his past dozen trips, he left with the feeling that even though he went down to teach and mentor others, perhaps he was the one who gained more from them during this experience. “No matter what I do to try to make sure my time there is useful for the people I’m going to serve – I can never walk away without the feeling that maybe I got more out of it.”
Learn more about the neurosurgery fellowship program at Hospital Bernard Mevs here.