MSH Contracts Officer and Family Help Local Hospital after Earthquake in Haiti
After hearing reports that the Hôpital de la Communauté Haitienne (HCH) in Port au Prince was struggling to care for the surge of victims arriving in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, Annouck Hudicort, a contracts officer with the MSH’s SDSH project Santé pour le Développement et la Stabilité d’Haïti (SDSH) Project—Pwojé Djanm) in Haiti, and her family decided immediately “to go help at the hospital—in any we could see fit.”
Annouck’s sister-in-law Brigitte, a doctor, went to the hospital soon after the earthquake hit to care for the wounded. Arriving home exhausted the next day, she described how the hospital could barely respond to all the people needing care. There were only four available doctors—one alone gave care to 230 patients that day. The quake killed the hospital administrator and her 3-year-old baby at their home. And, many of the nurses were away dealing with destroyed homes, injured or deceased family members, and other personal responsibilities. HCH was in dire need of help.
Annouck, her husband, and a couple of relatives went to the hospital straightaway to offer assistance. Annouck first helped to organize volunteers, register patients, and provide translation services for some doctors and patients. She also took over management of the stock room. “It was crucial to make an accurate inventory [of medicines and medical supplies], to ensure there would be optimum use of the little stock left to work with,” said Annouck.
Medical supplies quickly ran low and there was nowhere to turn to resupply desperately needed medicines. On January 14, a truck arrived from the Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM), led by MSH and John Snow, Inc., under its USAID-funded project, with the first post-quake assistance to the hospital. The truck carried vital supplies: serum pads and injectable antibiotics as part of an “emergency kit” to help get the hospital through the first days of the crisis. Said Annouk, “we were nearly down to zero and this very first batch we received through our PFSCM colleagues helped carry us through…” In the following days, more supplies would come from World Vision and UNICEF.
Annouck spent the next 10 days working 15 hour shifts—through some 70 aftershocks—receiving, controlling, and distributing medication and medical supplies. Meanwhile, her husband, Jean Claude, ensured the resupply of fuel and picked up supplies and arriving volunteer medical teams at the airport. With the influx of medical personnel and supplies, HCH was eventually able to get back on its feet and care for the injured.
By that time, the SDSH project was operating again in a temporary office and Annouck returned to her job as a contracts officer, assuring that SDSH partner institutions could resume normal operations within the early weeks after the disaster—continuing to supply basic integrated primary health care services to mothers, children and vulnerable populations alongside the emergency interventions for quake victims.