By Thamy Crevecoeur, R.N.
Haiti is my home- the land of my ancestors. Although my family and I emigrated to the United States in 1994, the vibrant memories of my wonderful childhood there still resonate with me. I often hear the loud horn of camionettes in the busy streets of Port-au-Prince and the early country-side alarm roosters’ “cockadoodledoo” in my dreams –drawing me back to the dirt road of my roots. The simplicity of life there brings a peace of mind to me like no other.
Immediately, I was attracted to the profession. However, I did not become absolutely hooked until I found the amazing connection that midwifery has with my roots.
During my senior year in college in 2006, after receiving a fellowship and grant from BC, I traveled to Les Cayes (South of Haiti) and worked at a birthing center, Maison de Naissance, for 3 weeks. This is when I became exposed to Haitian Midwifery. I observed births in the birthing center with Haitian CNMs and interviewed local women about childbearing practices. The information I learned from watching the CNMs was a contrast to what local women informed me about home-birth. I even had the golden opportunity to interview a traditional birth attendant or “fanm chay.” This is when I realized exactly how vast and how deeply imbedded midwifery is in my roots.
Oftentimes the lack of basic resources and bad health outcomes are quite disheartening. The issues concerning nursing staff shortage often leads to low morale and compassion fatigue.
After my time in Hinche, I opted to continue serving my community women in Boston. I currently work in hospital where there is a large Haitian patient population. It feels good to bring a piece of home back to my many immigrant women looking to get decent healthcare, especially when considering the conditions of Haiti post-earthquake.
Although I am now practicing in Boston, I am still called home multiple times a year. As the old adage goes, “Home is where the heart is.” I still travel to Haiti between 3-4x year during my vacation time. I often go back to Hinche, however during one of my recent trips; I travelled with a co-worker to Hôpital Sacré Coeur in Milot. During my stay at HSC, I worked with the Georgetown Medical School team to teach and review the key components of the ALSO (American Life Support Obstetrics) course to nurses, nurse-midwives and resident doctors. I also worked with a neonatologist, Dr. Deb Hoy Jones, to teach TBAs (Traditional Birth Attendants) the life saving skills of neonatal resuscitation in the American Academy of Pediatrics Helping Babies Breathe program.
In Haiti, 74% of all births occur without a trained birth attendant and outside of a medical care facility. The percentage is higher in rural areas. Haiti has the highest percentage of maternal deaths in the western hemisphere. In addition to conducting training classes, Hôpital Sacré Coeur is preparing to construct a new maternity center in Milot as part of the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population request’s for HSC’s expansion.
Newborn mortality is about six times that of the USA. Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) is a program supported by NIH, WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics. HBB has a designated curriculum to train birth attendants in developing countries in the essentials of new born resuscitation. Dr. Deb Hoy Jones is a designated HBB Master trainer. Since 2007, HSC has an 11 bed Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery running at 100% capacity.Boston College, CRUDEM, Gives Back, haiti, haiti earthquake, Haitian-American, Hinche, Hôpital Sacré Coeur, Les Cayes, Midwife, Milot, Nurse, UPENN