Hospital inauguration signals start of stronger health care in Haiti

GONAIVES—The state-of-the-art facility opens 10 years after a hurricane destroyed the original city hospital.

Providence Hospital of Gonaïves, constructed by UNOPS in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and Population and funded by a $30 million grant from the Canadian Government, was inaugurated on 4 November in a ceremony attended by First Lady Sophia Martelly and Minister of Public Health and Population, Florence Duperval Guillaume.

The original Providence Hospital was destroyed by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004. After Gonaïves was hit by two additional hurricanes in 2008, health services were provided to the community out of a makeshift set-up in a nearby warehouse.

Construction began in 2012 after a pre-investment study conducted by the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Public Health and Population and UNOPS concluded that maternal and child health care should be the primary function of the hospital.

The 200-bed facility, spanning 10,500 square metres, will also provide paediatrics, internal medicine, emergency care and surgery services to residents of Artibonite, Haiti's largest department, expanding modern health care in the country. To support capacity building, the project will provide training to staff in hospital management and the use and maintenance of medical equipment.

The Canadian Ambassador to Haiti, Paula Caldwell St-Onge, said of the project: "These essential services will help reduce the mortality rate among children and improve access for children, women and men to quality, specialized health services in Artibonite."

A range of sustainability considerations were incorporated into the design of the hospital to ensure its long-term operation, including using reinforced concrete to construct the facility in order to strengthen its resiliency against earthquakes and hurricanes.

The hospital also features an environmentally sustainable design that uses locally sourced materials, maximizes natural lighting and ventilation and harvests rain water. In addition to the installation of 1,200 LED interior lighting units to reduce energy consumption, the facility will be equipped with a 4,300 square metre, self-cleaning solar panel system that will generate 200 kilovolt-amps to power the hospital. The system will be installed by UNOPS in the spring of 2015, and is funded by a $2.5 million grant from the Mexican Government.