A Quiet Opening

This is our fourth operational day, which after a year of planning, feels huge. Liz and I were joking last week that we’ve been throwing “launch” parties for the pilot clinic for about a year (see: C2C at the Institute of Contemporary Art, November 16, 2009), and last week the clinic opened with neither pomp nor circumstance. Truth be told, we’d been working with ICC/Grace Children’s and MSH on an inauguration event to celebrate the resurgence of the hospital as a fully functional healthcare provider in Port-au-Prince. The invitation list included several heads of Haitian ministries (e.g. of health, foreign affairs, finance) and the entire diplomatic corps. Unfortunately, John Steinbeck might as well have coined the phrase “the best laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry” specifically for Port-au-Prince, and after a cholera outbreak and promises of Hurricane Tomas’ deluge, the ceremony was called off. And so the C2C clinic opened quietly. But hey – I’ll take an open clinic any way it wants to come.

We’ve so far seen a daily average of about forty-five women and their babies, and reports from C2C’s Project Coordinator, Handy Tibert, at Grace Children’s Hospital suggest that everyone’s adapting to the space very well, and vice versa. The clinic was committed as maternal care center, and is staffed by two gynecologists, a midwife and two nurses. The pharmacy space should be fully functional by the end of today and the head laboratory technician continues to transition services into the C2C lab. This is all coordinated in conjunction with the C2C program staff but decisions are made and “actioned” by the leadership of Grace Children’s Hospital. This partnership relationship has been interesting. It’s new for GCH to have a partner as hands-on as C2C: the way we explain ourselves seems almost entirely novel in this environment – we aren’t donors, we’re partners; we don’t do anything for GCH, rather we do everything with them. This isn’t a typical aid relationship, but then again, we aren’t your typical aid organization.

C2C is committed to expanding access to critical primary care for maternal and pediatric populations, and the clinic is our vehicle. However, we don’t believe it’s enough to provide “access” simply via the facility. We don’t drop a clinic down, dust off our hands, and say “you’re welcome.” Far from it. In fact, having been in the trenches the past few months, I’d actually say that it isn’t until we drop a clinic that the real work begins. Once the clinic is set up and we begin evaluating the systems it absorbs (e.g. medical record keeping, pharmaceutical inventory management, efficiency/comprehensiveness of lab diagnostics), we start making recommendations for improvements. C2C’s entire bent is monitoring and evaluating the quality of the services patients receive at our facilities. This may only be our pilot, but eventually we want the C2C moniker branded with quality standards – marketing both to patient and partner NGO populations.

We’re in the early, early stages of second site development, and making certain that the emphasis we put on being hands-on around quality assurance is front and center in our preliminary conversations. There’s a sweet spot between micromanaging and donating, and we’re honing in on it. In the meanwhile, check out a few photos taken by Handy’s phone. Not great quality, and we’ll have to get him to take a break from setting up the lab to capture a few real shots.

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.