A medical team from Shriners Hospitals for Children and representatives from The Carter Center recently returned from conducting their first joint pediatric screening clinic in Haiti. Hosted by St. Boniface Hospital in Fond des Blancs, Haiti, Shriners Hospitals physicians evaluated children from the far reaches of the island nation for orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.
The Carter Center helped organize this medical mission, working directly with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Disabilities of the Government of Haiti for approval. Additionally, they introduced Shriners Hospitals to leadership at St. Boniface Hospital who hosted the screening and promoted its availability to Haitian families who otherwise would not have access to this type of expert pediatric specialty care.
During the two-day event, led by Shriners Hospitals for Children’s Chief Medical Officer Kenneth Guidera, M.D., medical staff met with children and their parents at St. Boniface Hospital. Many families traveled hours to meet with the Shriners Hospitals doctors and were waiting in line when the clinic opened. Children were screened and if necessary, provided treatment plans that included follow-up by doctors at St. Boniface Hospital, in-country physical therapy or surgery by Shriners Hospitals doctors during a planned return trip. Several children with more complex conditions were recommended for treatment at one of the 20 Shriners Hospitals for Children locations in the United States.
“We want to thank the government of Haiti, The Carter Center and our wonderful hosts St. Boniface Hospital for allowing Shriners Hospitals for Children to extend our medical knowledge to the children of Haiti,” said Jerry Gantt, chairman of the Board of Directors for Shriners Hospitals for Children. Mr. Gantt added, “Limited prenatal care and resources for treatment of birth defects in Haiti has complicated many of these cases.”
“This was an excellent first step for Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Carter Center to bring help to the children in Haiti,“ said Dr. Guidera. “It was a great honor to reach into the poorest of countries to treat the neediest of children."
The organizations are planning a return trip to Haiti where they will conduct surgeries and other follow-up care for children screened during the initial event. Shriners Hospitals will also provide additional training to doctors and nurses of St. Boniface Hospital so more treatments and follow-up care can be done in-country by their staff.
“The Carter Center is very pleased to be helping Shriners Hospitals for Children provide life-changing care for children throughout the world,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. “We look forward to the progress of these Haitian children and how their lives will forever be changed.”
Pictured (top right): Team members from Shriners Hospitals for Children, The Carter Center and St. Boniface Hospital
Pictured (bottom - clockwise from top left): Shriners Hospitals Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ken Guidera examines one of the many children seen during the Haiti screening clinic; Gary Bersinski, 2nd vice president, Board of Directors, Shriners Hospitals for Children and patient from Shriners Hospitals screening clinic; Haitian families waiting to see Shriners Hospitals medical team when they arrive; Dr. Peter Diaz, board member Shriners Hospitals and Lee Kirk, administrator, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield prepare for the day ahead