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Health care in Haiti before the earthquake: A look back at Haiti's Albert Schweitzer Hospital

Even before last month's earthquake, providing medical care in Haiti was a struggle. A 2002 Stanford Medicine magazine article describes the scene back then in one of today's major sites for care in Haiti, Hôpital Albert Schweitzer. An excerpt:

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Chief operating officer Jackie Gautier, MD, a Haitian who formerly served as the hospital's pediatric chief, announces that the hospital's supply of post-anesthesia pain medications is used up with little likelihood it will be replenished in the next month or two.

"Why can't you hand-carry some in on the next plane?" one physician asks. Gautier smiles thinly. Paperwork, not logistics, is involved, Gautier says diplomatically. Later, other physicians explain that while the hospital is entitled to import its supplies and medications duty free, the bankrupt Haitian government or an official might be waiting for an unofficial payment. In any case, the medication isn't coming.

Today, the hospital, which is in a rural area outside of devastated Port-au-Prince, is serving as an "overflow valve" for those in need of medical care, says Stanford surgery professor Ralph Greco, MD, who has traveled there many times since the 1970s to work and train surgery residents.

More about what's happening there day to day on the hospital's blog.

Illustration by Stan Fellows

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