In The New Yorker, Partners in Health co-founder Dahl on impoverished Haiti: “To have seen this and to not do anything, I knew wasn’t an option.”

The New Yorker offers a profile of Ophelia Dahl, the daughter of celebrity parents who want on to help found Boston-based Partners in Healthheader-logo-orange. That group describes its mission this way: “We go. We make house calls. We build health systems. We stay. ”

Development organizations will donate something finite, even if it’s redundant, rather than something essential but ongoing; thus, a community might receive a bathroom, a handwashing sign, or a thousand packets of oral-rehydration salts, instead of salaries for trained nurses, or, say, electricity. “There are endless examples of bigger interventions—like a hospital—in the middle of nowhere, and it falls apart because it hasn’t been built within a community of trained people, or with the normal pipeline for overhead and upkeep,” Dahl said. If a hospital is erected, but there is no running water or sewage system—to say nothing of diagnostic equipment or personnel who can operate it—it is as useless as a bucket of water without soap. Consequently, Partners in Health often helps supply things that fall outside a medical-aid organization’s typical purview, such as bridges and satellite dishes and gasoline. “These things need to be done in order for people to have a reasonable chance of being healthy,” Dahl said, “and not being . . . dead.”


Designed to saves lives: Cholera, Haiti and the MASS Design Group’s latest clinic

The New York Times reports on the latest effort by the Boston-based MASS Design Group,  a cholera clinic in Haiti designed to so that natural ventilation — sea breezes — will lower transmission. Cholera reportedly arrived with aid workers after the island’s devastating earthquake. The story appears in the “Well Design” column, which reports on architecture and health care.

The clinics here are simple, even handsome. Instead of constructing hermetic shields in the form of airtight, inflexible hospital buildings, the architects took advantage of Haiti’s Caribbean environment, exploiting island cross breezes to heal patients and aid caregivers.

It’s not clear yet how well the clinics will work. They open soon. If they turn out right, they could serve as relatively light-footed models for other struggling countries that lack resources for high-end Western-style hospitals.

Building Better Builders from MASS Design Group on Vimeo.

US surgeons, hospitals needed to treat Haitian earthquake survivors

Even if the earthquake had left Haiti’s health care system intact, the hospitals and providers there would be in crisis. The country never had the resources to treat the volume and complexity of the patients now dying at their doors. Massive injuries, a nonfunctioning trauma system and extreme poverty. A nightmare of pain and grief for thousands.(For details see the Globe’s coverage of the scene and the medical teams on the way. NPR also reports.

Partners in Health, with its deep in-country presence, is on the ground. The group is looking for U.S. hospitals to take patients who need treatment right away, according to the Globe.  (PIH regularly bring Haitians to Boston hospitals for complex care.)

At the moment, PIH is most in need of people who can offer surgical skills or supplies. Money is good too. From PIH’s Stand With Haiti page.

We are deeply grateful for the multitude of people who have contacted us wanting to provide medical assistance, medicine and supplies. While we wish we could use all of the support so generously offered, we urgently need the following:

Orthopedic surgeons, trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, OR nurses, post-op nurses, and surgical technicians. Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate any volunteers without significant surgical or trauma training and experience. If your qualifications match our needs, please fill out this form.

Orthopedic supplies, surgical consumables (sutures, bandages, non-powdered sterile gloves, syringes, etc), blankets, tents, and large unopened boxes of medications. Unfortunately, we cannot accept small quantities or unused personal medications. People with private planes willing to fly medical personnel and/or large quanities of supplies are also greatly needed. To donate any of the above goods, please fill out this form.

Help for Haiti and Boston Activism on Health Care Affordability

First Haiti. Boston-based Partners in Health, which runs its hospital far from Port Au Prince, will be working on the earthquake relief effort. For more info on the effort and how to contribute, go to Check the Globe for other local support efforts.  Boston is home to a large Haitian community.

Next, the reformers at Health Care for All are launching a new group this week to work for health care “to ensure everyone gets the health care they need at a price they can afford.”

Massachusetts is a leader in health care, but we can do better.  And we will.  The Massachusetts Campaign for Better Care seeks to redefine the way healthcare is delivered to ensure everyone gets the health care they need at a price they can afford.  We will push for reforms in our health care payment and delivery system that will save money for patients.

All patients should have access to the care they need when they need it.  Patient care should be integrated in a way that keeps people healthy.  Patients should have more time with their health care providers.

We are organizing patients across the Commonwealth to join together with policy makers to demand improvements that make sense and will save lives.

The official launch of the Massachusetts Campaign for Better Care is Thursday, January 14th at noon in Room 222 at the State House.