Haiti: How Detroit Helped Prepare Caregivers

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (March 17, 2011) – Editor’s note: This report is part of a week-long series of articles written by Stan Friedman, news editor for Covenant News Service, who spent five days accompanying a five-member medical team from the United States providing care to Haiti residents during a two-week volunteer mission.

By Stan Friedman

Two volunteers who traveled to Haiti to work with Medical Teams International (MTI) say they encountered many issues similar to the ones they deal with every day in their jobs at Covenant Community Care (CCC) in Detroit, Michigan.

Several Evangelical Covenant churches started the Detroit clinic in an impoverished area of the city in 2003. It has since expanded to three sites.

“As in Haiti, most of our patients are uninsured and do not speak English,” says pediatrician Mary Hakim. “Thus, we have the challenges of language and culture differences while trying to give the best medical care to people who do not have insurance.”

They also share the challenge of trying to find resources for their patients who need service beyond their scope as primary care physicians, Hakim says.

The lack of specialists also means CCC and MTI must negotiate arrangements with other organizations. “We have been offered free labs by Beaumont Hospital with whom we have opened a third clinic in Oakland County, says nurse Claudine Mamo. “We try to work out special deals for diagnostic tests for our patients. We can take care of the majority of our patients’ chronic conditions, but when they need more testing and specialized care, it becomes very challenging.”

The relationships formed with patients add to the staff’s desire for getting the necessary care. “We become very attached to them and very committed to find a way for them,” Mamo says.

That passion and experience served the mission team well when they had to struggle to get medical facilities in Haiti to treat extremely sick patients that had walked to the Canaan clinic.

The constant shortage of necessary funding is common to both organizations as well. “Theoretically it should be impossible for us to stay open, but God keeps providing,” says Mamo. “Sometimes that provision comes at the last minute, which makes the accounting for the clinic a real work of faith.”

Most of all, both ministries have the same ultimate goal, says Mamo. “To share the love of Christ.”

To read earlier stories, click on the links below:

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