When we began working in Hinche in 2006, only one obstetrician and one nurse staffed the local St. Therese Hospital. And, they only worked day shifts. If you were a laboring mother when the hospital was closed, care was not available until 8am the following day and not at all on the weekends. The cleaning lady often caught babies during the night. Since many of the women coming to the hospital at this time were only doing so because they required emergency care, many mothers died.
Over time, as we trained and graduated more students, word spread throughout the community that the hospital was now a safe place to give birth. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, who runs the hospital, we began employing several of our graduates to staff the maternity ward 24/7. We now pay the salaries of 18 Skilled Birth Attendants working there, utilize the hospital as the site of our clinical training, and support the maternity center with further resources and supplies. Mothers no longer have to worry that they will be turned away, that there will be no one to care for them, or that they won’t have access to life-saving medication.
Within four years of working at the hospital, the percentage of women in the catchment area coming here increased from 2% to 28%. Each year, over 2,500 births are attended by our students and Skilled Birth Attendants at St. Therese Hospital.