Today is the one year anniversary of earthquake in Haiti. It is also a time when US citizens are trying to sift through and debate what is, quite frankly, an overwhelmingly complex healthcare reform. Boston-based Partners in Health (PIH) breaks down both of these dense problems by keeping things simple – treating those that need help despite difficult circumstances.
Since it was founded over twenty years ago, PIH has become the largest health care provider in Haiti and grown tremendously since last year’s tragedy. When the earthquake hit, PIH expanded out from the rural areas and into the hard-hit city. Its workforce grew from around 4,400 to 5,500. Thanks to considerable donations, much more than it was used to, PIH has helped earthquake victims on a substantial level: from hiring mental health specialists to building a new $15 million hospital near Port-au-Prince. This accounts for rapid growth based on tremendous need – and begs the question (worth asking): where will PIH go from here?
It will be interesting to see. But for now the work being done daily to improve the terrible conditions stands for itself. Thanks to strong vision and leadership in the form of charismatic PIH co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer (described in Tracy Kidder’s 2003 bestseller on Dr. Farmer’s life as a “man who could cure the world”), a community-based model (PIH created Haitian affiliate Zanmi Lasante – Partners in Health in Creole with a workforce composed primarily of Haitians) and a commitment to caring for patients as if they were family members.
PIH’s whatever it takes mentality is necessary for a worldwide health organization dedicated to healing the population it serves – its most fundamental purpose.
In the words of Dr. Farmer: “This could be very simple: the well should take care of the sick.” Here’s hoping that all health care gets that basic.
(Click here for Dr. Farmer’s “This I Believe” recording from NPR: \”This I Believe\” NPR)