Bringing Hope and Help to Haiti
October 11, 2017 | Express Scripts
Bryan H. is a senior clinical account executive working to help public sector clients of Express Scripts control drug trend and spend.
During April 2016, I traveled to Haiti on behalf of my church. That’s when I learned about Mission of Hope, an organization that has been providing essential care, such as volunteer-staffed mobile medical clinics, in Haiti for 20 years. After learning about Mission of Hope and the impact the organization has on those living in Haiti, I knew I had to get involved.
Earlier this year I was fortunate to find three of my Express Scripts coworkers and two client contacts who shared my interest in partnering with Mission of Hope. We created a team and made plans to travel to Haiti in 2017. Proving that this was truly a team effort, Express Scripts donated prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplies for us to take with us that Mission of Hope needed to replenish their pharmacy. After 6 months of planning, our team of three pharmacists and three professionals set off to help.
When we arrived in Haiti, we received a tour and orientation. Our accommodations were in dormitory-style buildings with bunk beds and we brought mosquito nets so we could sleep free from their bites.
For four consecutive days, we assisted with the mobile clinic. During our first two days, we set up shop in a village church, while the next two days were spent outdoors providing care under mango trees (warning, watch out for falling mangoes!).
Given that the mobile clinic was 100% dependent on volunteers (except for one Haitian physician who serves each week), our days were long and the work was endless. Breakfast and dinner each day were eaten together outdoors at our campsite. We took our lunch with us and ate in shifts so we could run the clinic continuously from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
We used our limited resources to administer primary care to everyone from newborn children to elders in their 90s. We noted patients’ height, weight, arm circumference, blood pressure and blood sugar results. After being triaged at the nurses’ table, patients saw a physician and nurse practitioner. They then brought their prescriptions to a “pharmacy,” which consisted of three eight-foot-long tables. Medications were dispensed in small plastic bags with directions written on them and handed to interpreters who explained the medications and directions to patients in their native language.
During those four days, we saw 425 patients and dispensed more than 1,500 prescriptions. Everyone we encountered was incredibly appreciative of the care we provided. Thanks to Express Scripts, we had the antibiotics, other medicines and glucose testing strips to treat everything from intestinal worms to diabetes.
During the entire time we spent in Haiti, we never saw a single drug or grocery store. This was especially disheartening considering many of the prescriptions we provided patients were for over-the-counter products most Americans could buy at a dollar store.
As I reflect on my team’s time in Haiti, I know we were able to break through many barriers in order to help people live better lives. By helping all 425 patients and seeing what good can come from volunteering for those in need, I feel even more emboldened to do more. While the people we served didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Creole, there was an understanding that we were there to help each other. While the help I could give was obvious, the help every patient gave me was profound.
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