On March 20th, 2017, CMMB will officially open the Bishop Joseph Sullivan Health Center in Côtes-de-Fer, Haiti. The facility will serve over 50,000 Haitians who currently lack access to quality healthcare.

Many partners will be attending this historic celebration, including the health center’s first and largest funding partner, Mercy Health. In 2013, Mercy Health, then known as Catholic Health Partners, provided a $2 million challenge grant to begin construction on the hospital.

This week, Mercy Health sent eight professionals, including doctors, nurses, and an IT specialist, to the hospital to provide healthcare services and enhance hospital operations. We look forward to future collaborations with the wonderful people of Mercy Health!

We will provide some updates this week about Mercy Health’s mission trip. Below is a reflection from one of the volunteers on her arrival in Haiti, along with some pictures of Côtes‐de‐Fer and the health center. Learn more about the medical mission trip volunteers from Mercy Health here.

Arriving in Haiti

Erin Nester’s first impressions of Haiti:

“Today was more of a tourism day, compared to what we are here for. We got into Port-Au-Prince around 1 pm, and had to go through a few different check points at the airport. Once we got through those checks, I was not prepared for what came next. The language barrier of course made it all even more intense, but I saw physical rage among the locals, fighting over taking people’s bags for them. Luckily, we knew we had help waiting for us, and to not accept help, but to watch an employee very forcefully shove another was eye-opening.

Once we got outside, we walked through a fenced area that kept non-travelers off the sidewalk to let the guests walk through. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I did my best not to make eye contact with the folks on the other side of the railings. I really don’t even know why I did that. I guess I was uncomfortable and a bit afraid.

Fast forward to getting into the cars waiting for us. There were a few gentlemen identified as being “with us”. But there were several others that came up to us and took bags out of our hands, opened the car doors, etc. and told us – “you owe me a tip, $20.” So again, we witnessed arguing between locals – the ones with us and the others who were trying to make a buck, or 20.

After some seriously impressive maneuvering, we made it out of the parking lot. I wish I had taken a picture to show you just how crazy this lot was. Every car had to back up a few feet, pull forward to the right a few feet, then back up again, repeat, repeat, repeat, in order to get out of this lot. Which was no bigger than basically an American gas station. One of my fellow travelers said they call it “the gauntlet”. It’s clear why!

After a very exciting ride, we made it to the CMMB Haiti office where we had lunch, reviewed our plans, and shared some thoughts. We are fortunate to be staying in a Marriott in downtown Port-au-Prince for the night, before our long trek to Côtes‐de‐Fer tomorrow. We’ll then stay there for five nights, and then come back to Port-au-Prince for our last night.

Today has felt like three days. It’s been long. However, I must say that so far, I am very excited about getting to know this group better. I already feel as if they are family. I can imagine this experience is going to be life changing in many, many ways. Stay tuned for more “field stories”, to come later this week.”  — Erin

organizing medicines with mercy health mission team in Haiti

Erin organizing medications.


The first day in Côtes-de-Fer, on the southern coast of Haiti

“We arrived in Côtes-de-Fer on Wednesday around 2 pm, motivated and very eager to get to work at the hospital. But we were first welcomed by Dianne, the Medical Director in Haiti, our volunteer Luca and the guesthouse cook, Ruth, with a great, relaxed lunch that we enjoyed after a tour around the guesthouse that left our guests very impressed. We went right after to the hospital, where Dianne took us on a tour. There we were introduced to all of her staff and told the function for every room. After a short run through the to-dos, the team got onto sorting the supplies brought as donations and subsequently tackling one of the 3 rooms full of boxes with supplies, to separate primary care supplies, from those that needed to be archived. The day ended with another beautiful meal and a late-night conversation with Dianne about the to-do’s that she’d delegate to us and her local team after leaving at 10 am tomorrow.” — Marcia, Volunteer Program Coordinator 


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Dr. Herbert Schumm and Loubens Delice checking out the view from the health center.


Loubens Delice and Dr. Stephen Feagins adjusting some of the hospital beds.


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Erin Nester, Loretta Burgei, and Michelle Wall on the front porch of the Bishop Joseph Sullivan Center for Health.


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One of the courtyards in the new health center.


The team going through boxes of medical supplies and medication in preparation for the grand opening.


BJSH Opens Its Doors


One of our new patients waiting to be seen.

“By the time the sun and the team were up, a group of people were already waiting outside for the hospital to open. After a short reminder from Dianne of all roles for the international and local team, everyone took their post and patients started to come in. With 2 local interpreters, Priscila at the registration and Loubens rotating between the triage room and waiting area, the clinical team (Dr. Feagins, Dr Schumm and Loretta) tackled language barriers and communicated well with the local community.  They also worked side by side with the local clinical team – Dr Ali, Nadia and Sterline (nurse) and Joanne (triage), training them on best practices while learning local ways and using their help to find equipment and supplies needed to provide the services.


The first baby born at the Bishop Joseph Sullivan Center for Health!

Half way through the morning, with 30 patients already checked in and all consultation rooms fully equipped, the first new mother and newborn arrived, right after giving birth at home. After Dr Laguerre performed a minor procedure on the new mom, she was carried to the emergency room and Nadia administered the first IV with guidance from Loretta.

While the remaining patients came through, totaling almost 100 registrations, the non-clinical team (Mark, Michelle and Loubens) continued sorting the boxes of supplies, creating inventories and organizing the stocks. The rest of the of the team joined the processing of supplies when patients left.

By the sunset, after a relaxing time observing the ocean and a walk to the beach, the day ended with a prayer from Father Emmanuel and a lovely meal.” — Marcia, Volunteer Program Coordinator 


We feel as excited as these two patients about the opening of the BJSH!


Stories from the First Days at the BJSH


“The most memorable patient of the day was a mother (a 19-year-old woman) who had just delivered her own baby without any assistance. She twisted a washcloth up, tied it around the cord and then cut the cord. She somehow managed to get a taxi and the driver brought her to the hospital and took very good care of her and the baby through her stay. Mom appeared to be in a bit of emotional shock, so they kept her for a while, gave her some fluids and meds, and baby was perfectly healthy! They walked out of here a few hours after they arrived.” — Erin Nester

“During the debrief today, the most powerful thing I heard was from Mark Rau, who said that previously people who have had chronic illnesses or diseases have not had the opportunity to be fully treated and cared for, because there was nowhere to go that had the facilities and expertise to provide for these patients. Now, that has changed. He said that the new hospital will change (and save) so many lives.” — Erin Nester

Check back soon for more updates about the Mercy Health mission trip!