Health Care In Haiti…

My very talented friend Tiffany Parsons recently had an article published in Transformed Magazine! She shares our personal story & work in Haiti –  as well as other information from my Thanksgiving blog! I feel incredibly humbled by her kind words and SO GRATEFUL she was willing to share her personal story! She gives all of us a reason to be thankful for the blessings we DO HAVE!

Here is the Link: http://transformedmagazine.com/justice/health-care-in-haiti/

Here is a cut/paste copy of the article:

HEALTH CARE IN HAITI

JAMIE-LEA | 06 JANUARY 2012 | JUSTICEZFEATURE 1 | 0 COMMENTS

Denied. It’s only one little word, but it sure stung. I was a 29-year-old white female in overall good health. I had no health concerns, no history of surgeries and was on no medication. I was, however, what I considered to be overweight. Little did I know, I had a BMI of 41. This classified me as “obese,” therefore giving the private insurance company for which I had applied for health insurance reason to deny me coverage.

I was in shock. Weren’t they obligated to give me health insurance? Sure, they could jack up the price if I was obese, but they couldn’t simply deny me coverage, could they?

Yes. They could legally deny me coverage, and they did. To add insult to injury, they included in my denial letter a quote of coverage for the rest of my family. They quoted us $320 per month to cover my tobacco-chewing 28-year-old husband with high cholesterol and my two healthy toddler daughters.

My inability to qualify for private health insurance was a determining factor in my decision to return to work after my husband lost his job and golden employee-sponsored health insurance.

We were unable to afford the monthly premium. Once my husband started his own business, our income surpassed the limits to qualify for state health insurance. To our delight and relief, I was able to quickly find a job and regain health insurance coverage for our family through my new employer.

My home isn’t the only one where health care has been a touchy subject. Health care has become a political and social hot topic. Americans are up in arms across party lines in regards to health care reforms, either ongoing or recommended. After my aforementioned experience, I have to say I, too, was discontent with our health care system. During those weeks we went without coverage, I lived in constant fear of a bone fracture or car accident or even the smallest cold that would have meant hundreds of dollars in medical bills. After being denied and then struggling to find affordable private insurance, I was completely convinced that our health care system was “broken.”

After reading Jody Castillo’s blog, I quickly realized how blessed we are to have health care, even in its broken state. Countries like Haiti are fighting for health care at all, while we fight for reform. Jody is an inspiring sister in Christ. As a registered nurse, mother, wife and missionary of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, she blogs the words of her heart as she shares Christ with Haiti. As I read through her thanksgiving of health care, I soon realized that I had great cause to be grateful for a health care system I considered in need of change.

As a mother of seven children, some with special needs, Jody knows all too well how Haiti’s health care system works: If you don’t have money; you don’t receive care. If there is an emergency, there must first be payment before services are rendered. One of Jody’s youngest sons began having seizures last summer, which resulted in an emergency flight back to the states.

There was no seizure medication or MRI equipment in Haiti to help her son, leaving them no hope but to seek refuge in the health care of the states. Once returned to the states, her son was immediately hospitalized and started on anti-seizure medication without pause.

Haiti is said to be the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and most areas lack even the basic necessity of health care provision. Most areas that do have health care available are unable to take in patients incapable of paying for services. Jody and her family had the fortune of being able to come back to the states and receive the much-needed treatment for her son.

Children in Haiti simply don’t have the opportunity to receive health care. The mortality rate of children under 5 is grim. Though statistics in Haiti are hard to come by, the World Health Organization (WHO) is especially concerned about the ongoing outbreak of cases of cholera in Northern Haiti. The recent rainy season has made some roads to health facilities inaccessible. The WHO issued a Health Cluster Bulletin in November focusing on plans of action for the region.

Cholera, an infection of the small intestine, is characterized by watery diarrhea and vomiting. It’s contracted mostly through the consumption of unclean water. As you can imagine, a small child could especially be vulnerable, easily becoming dehydrated with such symptoms. Oral Rehydration Treatment, IV fluids and antibiotics are used to treat cholera. Given that the simplest things such as clean water and IV fluids are hard to come by in Haiti, the disease continues to plague the people.

Shining light in the darkness, Jody’s passion is medicine and children. She is excited about a clinic that she’s been able to open in her Haitian town where she can attend to patients’ basic medical needs such as stitches, wound care and fluids in a clean environment. Healthy Happy Hearts Pediatric Clinic is a medical ministry of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission that is able to work on the front lines. Imagine as a mother being unable to provide help for your ill child. I can imagine that in Haiti where such simple basic needs are hard to come by that the Healthy Happy Hearts Clinic must be a beacon of light and hope. It’s a way to share Christ in a real, tangible way.

In stark contrast to Haiti, in the United States we are able to take our children to the doctor for congestion or a low-grade fever. Our children do not and probably never will know such diseases as cholera. While without insurance, I never would have hesitated to take my daughters to the Emergency Room if they had injured themselves. Despite my fears of medical bills, I never worried that my children would go untreated. I had no worry of lack of medical care. Only months ago my youngest child pulled a cold iron onto her head, slightly cutting her head open. I was able to call and consult my doctor’s office. Free of charge, I spoke to a nurse and decided to take her into the emergency room. There I saw two doctors and a nurse. Though no X-ray or stitches were required our co-payment of $75 was.

To think that I complained of that meager $75 co-payment now slightly sickens me. The Lord has softened my heart and opened my eyes to the unbelievable blessing we have here in the United States called health care. If my child needs stitches or has a fever, I can have them seen immediately. Within seconds an ambulance could be at my door with medications and safe and clean instruments to use. If my child develops a fever in the night or begins to have a seizure, a medical center is only miles away. That medical center is open 24 hours a day and is clean and available to serve me and my family, whether we can afford it or not.

Sadly, that is just not the case in Haiti and other countries around the world. What we consider commonplace, an MRI or X-ray, is not available to every one of God’s children. How blessed are we that we can consider reforming our health care instead of building our health care system.

Next time you take a trip to the doctor, have an X-ray, your yearly pap smear or that dreaded mammogram, be grateful. Be grateful for a clean facility and well-trained staff, for God has blessed us with their services.

Want to know more about Northwest Haiti Christian Mission and Jody’s Healthy Happy Hearts Pediatric Clinic? Check out their website at http://www.nwhcm.org/. And follow Jody as she shares her heart and the love of Christ with the Haitian people in her blog. You can pray for Jody and the NWHCM team and can donate to their ministries on their website.

Love Tiffany.

Tiffany is a Versailles, KY native and resident. She shares a crazy and love-filled home with her husband, Christian and daughters, Eden & Isla. She’s a self-proclaimed “name nerd” and dreams of writing a baby name book one day. She enjoys blogging, crafting, and traveling. Though she committed her life
to Jesus at a young age, she’s thankful for her recent “life interrupted” that’s allowed her to know Him more.

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