PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Roof trusses are being installed atop the outpatient clinic building at the St. Francis de Sales Hospital complex here and the adjacent 200-bed permanent replacement hospital being built by Catholic Relief Services. Construction is expected to be completed in October with the hospital officially opening in January. The construction is funded in part by contributions from CHA members. A CHA delegation toured the complex last month when they visited Port-au-Prince at the invitation of CRS.
The delegation attended a Jan. 8 memorial service held in the partially completed inpatient hospital building to honor the patients, staff and visitors who lost their lives when an inpatient building at St. Francis de Sales Hospital collapsed during the massive Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. The epicenter of that 7.0 magnitude temblor was near Port-au-Prince and its force reduced much of Haiti's most populous city to rubble. More than 230,000 people were killed and 300,000 injured. Scores of buildings, including the National Palace, were destroyed leaving upwards of 2 million people homeless. Most of those people have been relocated to permanent housing but much remains to be done to improve living conditions and public health infrastructure in the Western hemisphere's poorest nation.
CHA President and Chief Executive Officer Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, told the audience at the memorial service that the rising hospital complex is a sign of the Catholic Church's unflagging commitment to the people of Haiti.
In an interview last month, Darren Hercyk, a CRS official based in Port-au-Prince, told the Catholic News Agency that the Catholic Church in Haiti has long provided medicine, education and housing. But, even more important, he said, "it provides hope."
In 2011, CHA-member organizations pledged $10.1 million to CRS to support the rebuilding of the hospital complex. CRS is supervising the construction of the facilities. St. Francis de Sales Hospital is sponsored by the archdiocese of Port-au-Prince.
CHA Chairwoman Deborah Proctor, president and chief executive of St. Joseph Health, Irvine, Calif., joined Sr. Carol in Haiti, along with Ed Giganti, CHA vice president for communications and marketing, and Bruce Compton, CHA senior director for international outreach. The CHA delegation met with the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Archbishop Guire Poulard. Sr. Carol presented him with a plaque commemorating the partnership between Catholic health care organizations in the U.S. and the archdiocese in the Haitian capital.
St. Francis de Sales Hospital was founded in 1881; and, throughout its history, it has served poor and vulnerable populations in Port-au-Prince. Plans call for the replacement facility to be a modern teaching hospital. Hospital administrators hope the hospital will also attract Haitians who can pay for their health services and thus help subsidize the cost of providing services to the poor. In addition to inpatient maternity, pediatric and surgical services, the new hospital will inaugurate around-the-clock emergency care and house an intensive care unit. The complex will include a chapel.
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