Haitian AIDS Clinic Regroups
February 3, 2010
The AIDS clinic Gheskio is one of Haiti's few first-class institutions, and its fate following the Jan. 12 earthquake could determine the course for other health care facilities in the beleaguered country. The quake caused an estimated $10 million in damage to the clinic and claimed the lives of three employees, with many more injured or missing, said its founder, Dr. Jean "Bill" Pape.
Haiti's public health care depends on private institutions like Partners in Health and Gheskio, which is supported by Weill Cornell Medical College. Gheskio provides treatment to almost half the country's HIV/AIDS patients. It is such a key player in the health care system that the government has designated it a public utility.
"The earthquake set us back five years," Pape said of the damage. Gheskio's laboratory is closed, research is suspended, and its state-of-the-art computer servers sit in a dark room filled with debris. Yet the day after the quake, many of Gheskio's 401 workers showed up, some walking 15 miles. Roughly 85 percent of Gheskio's patients have been able to access the clinic.
Normally, Gheskio sees 1,200 patients a day at its main clinic and around 300 at a satellite location near the US embassy. Now it is treating 2,000 earthquake victims and determining how to care for another 5,000 newly homeless people who are camping out on its property.
According to Pape, local hospitals did not know each other's e-mail addresses or what services they offered. Thus, many people who presented for care were turned away. "It was complete chaos," he said. Pape said he is organizing an inter-hospital communication system and coordinating efforts to reduce the risk of a typhoid outbreak, which many worry will be the next crisis.
Wall Street Journal
01.27.2010; Ianthe Jeanne Dugan
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.