Wednesday, November 10, 2010


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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bod Me Limbe/Farewell Haiti

My last week in Haiti has been spent in Bod Me Limbe, where Haiti Village Health’s permanent clinic is located. Bod Me Limbe is about a one and a half hour drive from Cap Haitian in Northern Haiti. It is a very beautiful area with a picturesque mountainous landscape that is green for miles. Bod Me Limbe more specifically is located along the edge of the ocean, providing a nice cool breeze with the sound of crashing waves with spectacular views of the distant mountains beyond the coast.

Bod Me Limbe is very remote, so much in fact that many Haitians I spoke with in Jacmel had never heard of it before. The guesthouse has no running water and a generator that only provides electricity in the evenings. Taking a shower out of a bucket was something I had to get used to but eventually I got the hang of it. Otherwise, the guesthouse is quite the comfortable spot. My room in particular opened up to a patio with a view of the facing ocean and swaying palm trees, a lovely sight to wake up to every morning.

The clinic, as well as a school, is located just behind the guesthouse. My days in Bod Me Limbe were spent doing triage at the clinic. I enjoyed learning about how the permanent clinic operated and was happy to see its sustainable format in practice, supported by an all Haitian staff. Patients come to the clinic not just from Bod Me Limbe, but from villages all around, including Titoit, Fage and Noman. Santos, the HVH coordinator for the clinic, informed me that people come far distances from all around in the mountains to have access to the clinic. On their first visit, patients provide information including their name, age and address so that a file can be created for them to reference for future visits. They then receive a card with their name and file number on it so that their file can be quickly located upon their return. Also, a large directory of patient names and file numbers has been created in the event that the patient misplaces or forgets to bring their card. From my experiences with the other clinics, I think the patient records at the Bod Me Limbe clinic are an awesome method because it was often hard to get medical history from patients in Jacmel. The clinic is open Monday to Friday, with a nurse and two health agents in everyday and a doctor three days per week. The health agents are two women from the local area who have been trained in triage and first aid in the event that something arises when the doctor and nurse are not there. They also regularly visit the nearby villages to teach people about the importance of things like hand washing and water sanitization. Overall, I would have to say that the clinic seems to be doing great things for the area and is very well organized in its approach.

Tonight will be my last night in Haiti. I am spending it in Port-au-Prince so that I can get to the airport easily for my morning flight tomorrow. I am staying with Grassroots United, an organization that has worked with HVH in acquiring and moving medications in Haiti. On the one hand, I feel ready to go home because I’ve really come to miss my family and friends, but on the other, I know I will miss Haiti once I’m gone and feel so grateful to have had this experience. I have met so many wonderful people who have unfortunately found themselves in poor circumstances but are still able to keep a smile on their faces. The children most of all have touched my heart, particularly our little helpers in Chabin who were so jovial and thoughtful. I have also had some great experience shadowing nurses and doctors as well as learning triage. All an all it was an excellent trip and I look forward to hopefully coming again in the future!

Madelin Rocheleau

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Chabin Clinic

Yesterday, Haiti Village Health Clinic in Chabin had its final day open for the month of August. In total, our clinic saw 87 timoun (children), 35 granmoun (elderly), 17 fanm ansent (pregnant women) and 151 patients from the general public, totalling 191 visitors.

I really enjoyed my time at the Chabin clinic over the past week and a half. I got some great experience taking vitals, working in the lab and pharmacy, shadowing doctors and medical students, and even had the chance to dress a wound for a lovely Haitian gentleman who had spent some time learning English in Palm Springs, Florida, while training to become a chef. We also saw a lot of adorable babies, timid little children, hardworking parents and grandparents over the course of our clinic. One of our most memorable patients for me, however, was the last patient we saw on the last day of the clinic. It was a mother who had come in with two of her daughters to see our medical staff. Her two daughter were adorable, both wearing frilly pink and white dresses with bows and braids in their hair. As for the mother, she seemed tired and overworked, like she had put in a lot of hard, long days throughout her life. Through a series of questioning and examinations, Catherine and Jude, one of the nurses from Cavalry Chapel, concluded that the mother was suffering from a number of chronic conditions for which we thankfully had most of the necessary medications. She ended up going home with 15 different medications for herself and several for each of her children as well. Although of clinic is only equipped for primary care, this particular case, for me, showed the necessity for something as basic as primary care in an area like Chabin. I’m very glad that we were able to provide this woman and her children with medications that will make their lives at least a little bit easier.

We had some help during our time in Chabin from an awesome team of volunteers who are here in Haiti with Calvary Chapel. Without them, our clinic would not have experienced the success that it did. Their group offered us some nurses, students, a physiotherapist and a pharmacist who were all wonderful to work with. Calvary Chapel also provided us with the tent we used for the clinic, a generator to give us power, and they built all the tables and benches we used to sit and see patients. A big thanks to all those at Calvary Chapel from HVH!

The last day at the clinic ended up being one of the most emotional days for me in Haiti so far. After we were done seeing patients, the other students and I stayed behind to help some of the Cavalry Chapel volunteers disassemble the tent. While we waited for them to arrive, we got to spend some quality time with the children who hang around our clinic every day and help us to pack up. Together, we sang songs, laughed and played throughout the afternoon. I’d managed to pick up enough basic Creole to ask children their names and ages and, along with the help of some older, French-speaking kids as translators, was able to get to know some of them a little bit better. When the other volunteers arrived, we deflated the tent, transforming it into a jumping playground for the kids, which was heart-warming to watch. We then packed the tent into the truck and began loading up the furniture, during which time it began to rain slightly. One of my favourite little boys, Nixon, started tugging on our shirts, saying something in Creole we didn’t understand. We were eventually explained that he was trying to get us to go in the truck so we wouldn’t get wet, which was just about the cutest thing I had ever heard. One of the other volunteers then mentioned that a common voodoo belief was that getting wet from the rain is what causes illness and, seeing the kids trying to cover their heads, we decided to shield their heads with our hands, eventually creating a little house for our limbs which all the children huddled under. It was adorable! Eventually however, after a lot of hugs, included a nice big squeeze from Nixon, we unfortunately had to leave Chabin. As the truck drove off with the children waving us goodbye, I couldn’t help but shed some tears because I immediately began to miss their smiling faces.

Fortunately, the clinic will be opening again next month, and eventually, HVH is hoping to build a permanent clinic in its location so that the people of Chabin can have regular access to it. I’m sure future clinic teams can look forward to having the chance to meet our awesome little helpers who have I feel so fortunate to have met and will never forget.

Next week, I’m planning to pay a visit to HVH’s permanent clinic which has been established up north in Bod Me Limbe. I’m excited to see how the more permanent clinic is run and what kind of medical issues they encounter on a regular basis, so more updates to come.

Madelin Rocheleau

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

New HVH Clinic in Chabin

This week has been off to a great start for our new Haiti Village Health Clinic in Chabin. The clinic opened Monday and has seen 139 patients over the last three days.

The location of the clinic in Chabin is very picturesque. It is nestled part way up a mountain off the beaten path from the main road towards Port-au-Prince. This spot provides spectacular views of the surrounding valleys, rivers and luscious greenery and well as a nice cool breeze that keeps the mosquitoes away, always an added bonus!

The clinic is divided into several sections: general information, vitals, triage, consultations, laboratory and pharmacy. We have some native Haitians working in the first section, taking patients names, ages, hometowns, and contact information. The second station is where I have been positioned along with two other students from Toronto area, Jessica and Elizabeth. The three of us rotate between the lab and vitals. At the vitals station, we take patients’ blood pressures, pulse, weight, and temperature. At the lab, we do urine tests and occasionally help out in the pharmacy. Catherine, along with Wesley, another new volunteer from Vancouver, Ruth, our guesthouse manager and nursing student, and Cassidy, an EMT who has been working in Port-au-Prince, are located in the triage section. There they take the patients’ histories and do some basic diagnostics. More complicated cases are then sent to one of our two doctors, Dave and Mona, for consultations. Patients then proceed to the pharmacy to get their prescriptions filled. Overall, I’ve found the clinic to be very well organized and efficient thanks to these stations, with all of the volunteers put in positions where their expertise can be most useful.

We have also had the opportunity to meet a ton of amazing children during our time in Chabin. All of them have the most beautiful smiles and get super excited at the chance to mingle with the clinic staff after we’ve finished seeing our patients. They love to help us pack and lock up our supplies at the end of the days which is just the cutest thing to witness. Initially, we were locking everything up in a nearby school, so the kids got a kick out of riding our rented taptap truck up the bumpy mountain. Now, we’ve began to put everything in a nearby house at the end of the day for more convenience, and without fail, every afternoon the children are there and eager to assist us in carrying our boxes. They are all too adorable!

Over the next week or so, we hopefully have more successful clinic days to look forward to, so more updates to come.

Madelin Rocheleau

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More news from Jacmel

This week, my fellow volunteers and I spent our time helping out with the Haiti Family Initiative while we wait for our clinic in Chabin to open. The Haiti Family Initiative is a 7 week summer camp program which also occasionally holds free clinics depending on whether or not the weekly team has any medically trained volunteers. Sarah, Catherine and I were able to assist with the clinic this week.

All three of us helped with patient intake, which consisted of taking down patient’s names and ages, history, chief complaint and vitals (pulse and blood pressure readings). Initially, I was paired with either Sarah or Catherine, recording the information they received from the patients as I am not yet in medical school. Eventually however, I was trained on how to take vitals myself and was able to do patient intake on my own, which was very exciting for me as an aspiring med student. Sarah and Catherine also were able to move on to assisting the doctors in patient diagnosis and treatment, which for them was awesome because they were able to use more of their medical expertise. Eventually they were even given their own patients, which was great experience for them.

We also had the opportunity to go on a tour of the local hospital, Saint-Michel. There definitely was a lot of destruction caused by the earthquake but we had the impression that it had once been a very nice hospital campus. There were also some new buildings that had been constructed by Doctors without Borders, which provide beds for the pediatric and internal medicine wards. There were also a lot of engineers and construction workers on hand continuing to repair the hospital. According to those who had seen Saint-Michel right after the earthquake, the hospital has made a lot of progress.

Today, Dr. Mona brought over a ton of medications for the new clinic, so tonight we’re working on taking inventory and categorizing these items so that they will be ready for use in Chabin next week.
That's all for now, more updates to come!
Madelin Rocheleau

Saturday, July 24, 2010

An Update from Jacmel

Bonjou from Haiti!

My name is Madelin and I am a first time volunteer with Haiti Village Health. Two other volunteers, Sarah and Catherine, and I have just moved into the guesthouse in Jacmel with Namita to help her and Mona's efforts in the town. We are all very excited to be here and help in any way that we can.

Being only a couple of days into my stay, I would have to say that my first impression of Haiti is that it is a beautiful island with beautiful people who have unfortunately been condemned to such a dire situation. Despite the fact that the earthquake took place over six months ago, there is still a lot of work to be done. Regardless of their struggles however, all of the Haitians that I have met thus far have been so warm and friendly. Truly an inspiration.

Here at the guesthouse, we are currently in preparation for the opening of our new clinic in Chabin, just outside of Jacmel. Today, we just finished putting together some cards which will be used to give patients access to the clinic. They will be distributed tomorrow morning. 168 cards each were created for pregnant women, children under five and elders, totalling 504 cards. These individuals will receive free access to the clinic. An additional 324 were made that can be purchased for 50gds (approximately USD$1.25) for the rest of the general public. These cards will be reused once they have been brought in by the patients. The clinic opening is currently scheduled for August 2nd.

Tomorrow, we are planning to pay a visit to one of the local tent camps in Jacmel called Pinchinat. These camps have been set up to provide temporary housing to those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. This is sure to be an experience as I’ve heard that the conditions there are extremely grim.

I will be staying in Jacmel over the next month and will be sure to follow up in the coming weeks with more updates regarding our efforts and experiences.

Until next time,
Madelin Rocheleau

Friday, July 23, 2010

Update Volunteers in Jacmel

Well our medical students and volunteers from Canada have arrived to help in preparation with the upcoming medical clinic in Chabin. We have secured a large tent with the help of Calvary Chapel to use until construction of the clinic is completed. These young students will work alongside our Haitian staff to prepare for the opening. A health committee has been formed in the region to educate the residents about the new clinic, and also to ask for their help in planning this health project.

If you're looking for health facilities in Haiti, check out Resource Finder at the link in the left column. This will be updated by Health Facilities throughout Haiti to aid in finding specialists and directing patient care.

Plans for our air ambulance service are underway. We hope to have two full time planes on the ground by mid November offering free service to those in need. The logistics of medical dispatch and education of local health staff is currently being planned.

The depot is quite empty at the moment but we are hoping for a supply from Direct Relief International in the upcoming week. These medicines will be distributed to local NGOs free of charge for use in their clinics.

The clinic is running well under the direction of Mr Santo Pierre. Our chlorine project is underway. Santo identified that some villagers are still unsure as to the benefit of chlorine so our physician will work with the Agence Sante (community Health workers) to increase our public relations campaign as to the benefit of clean water.

I hope to have an update from the medical students on the ground to post next week, along with some photos.


Friday, July 09, 2010

Update....long overdue

Well Haiti Village Health has been busy in country, despite my lack of updates on the blog.

I returned to Haiti in May to follow our programs in Jacmel under the care of Dr. Mona Alexis. She continued her work with the Department of Health and with the refugee camp in the city. We continue to host medical teams doing mobile clinics in the region, and staying our our guest house in Jacmel.

I had the opportunity to work at JPHRO, Sean Penn's refugee camp in Petionville. This camp has over 50,000 people living one huge tent cities. There are several small clinics on the grounds but JPHRO provides 24 hour emergency care to this population. It was a busy day at the clinic, including one woman who had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. JPHRO is well prepared with a referral network and she was rushed off shortly to a nenearby hospital.

On Mother's Day, I enjoyed Partners in Health in a new mobile medical clinic van. Our day clinic was held downtown near the National Palace which had been demolished. I'm not sure of the number of patients seen but it was a long day. It was great to work alongside Haitian doctors and nurses and my Creole is definately improving.

In June, Namita Kumar joined Haiti Village Health as our new in-country manager. She will be supervising the programs in the Southern Region.

So, what are we up to now? As you know, initially our role had been in medical coordination. We still continue in this capacity in terms of facilitating information but we have narrowed our focus.

In 2009 I was approached by Pastor Bob Davisson regarding starting a medical clinic at one of his 52 schools in Southern Haiti. I did a few site assessments but unfortunately funding was not available at that time. We are still in need of funding, but we have volunteers and supplies, and will be opening a new medical clinic at his site. Our first medical team will be on the ground in late July and we hope to continue to host volunteers until the clinic can run independantly. This is similar to the prprogram we started in the north, but will be an accelerated version.

Earlier this year I was asked to sit on a working Committee with the US State Department regarding the mapping of Health Facilities in Haiti. This led to improved mapping through the organization Shoreland. Google's site, Resource Finder, will be the public window to Health Facilities in Haiti. Haiti Village Health will be sending field workers out to teach local health care workers how to enter data directly to the database. Namita and our in-country tech guru Patrice Tellyrand will spearhead this project. MSPP (the Department of Health) gave the official go ahead last week and the site will launch shortly.

We have been working closely with the refugee camp in Jacmel, providing medication and supplies since the earthquake. We have assisted the camp leaders in attending meetings at the United Nations Cluster meetings so that their voice was heard in the decision making process. Together with Calvary Chapel, a Community Center will be built at the local camp. We will facilitate programs operating at the center.

We are currently working with three partner organizations to establish a country wide, emergency air transport service for Haiti. Jacmel is on the list as one of the fixed in country locations. Several volunteer pilots have been to the region and had meetings with the local airport authorities both in Jacmel and in the North. This service is desperately needed in Haiti as road conditions are so poor.

Since the earthquake, we have been involved with the storage and distribution of medical supplies in Jacmel. Currently, the supplies at the depot are limited but we expect a new shipment soon from Direct Relief International. The Aid Matrix Foundation will provide training to workers in inventory supply and management. Calvary Chapel will be constructing a new depot in August with climate control. We are looking for a partner for funding for this essential project to continue.

Our clinic is still operating in the North as it was pre-earthquake. Open five days per week. We also have community programs in worm distribution, prenatal and children's vitamins, clean water and sanitation.

We had been busy in the early days post quake with coordination at the airport. Currently OCHA (the United Nations) and the Clinton Foundation are teaming up to encourage the registration of NGOs nationwide. We have been able to provide information to them, and to facilitate projects linking individuals to organizations.

So, how can you help now?
Haiti Village Health needs funding to continue our projects and to help with the construction of the new clinic in Chabin, and to continue with our support in the north.

We are also in need of volunteers, both medical and non medical to support our clinics in the north and south. For further information on volunteering, please email

I will begin to provide regular updates on our projects, with photos as available.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Tiffany Keenan, MD
Founder & Director

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Update from Tiffany's Trip

Our Bermuda Dental Team and Communications Director are finally back home once again. It is a difficult transition for anyone going from third to first world nation, but the experience and life lessons learned are invaluable.

I've been busy over the last week continuing my work with NGO coordination. While in Haiti, I spent time in Jacmel meeting with the World Health Organization, Ministry of Health and my own workers on the ground to come up with a plan for Haiti Village Health in Jacmel. In the end our motto was "Go big or Go Home". Because of Haiti's centralized system of Healthcare we were running into several hurdles in working with the Ministry of Health. Dr. Delouches greatly appreciated all the work that HVH was able to contribute but as the WHO was stepping up to the table I began to work for other ways to be most effective in networking individuals and getting the job done.

So, after my Jacmel trip, I left Dr. Mona in charge of Health logistics and managament, Fredo in charge of the Guest Hostel and Ruth working as a nurse volunteer and assisting at the guest house.

I drove from Jacmel to Leogane to meet with Jim Luce of Orphans international Worldwide and his team from New York City. I had actually met them for the first time on a layover in NYC on my way to Haiti. We had a great meeting in Leogane which turned out to last the day as several members of the team joined me in PAP. We met with Americares who will be investing 50 million dollars in Haiti over the next 5 years. We also met with JPHRO, Jenkins Penn (yes, Sean) Haiti Relief Organization who are servicing a refugee camp of 50,000 people in Petionville. I also met Adam Marlatt of Global DIRT who is simply doing incredible work on the ground in Haiti getting supplies, people and patients to where they need to go.

From there I came up with a plan for NGO networking within not only Jacmel but throughout the country. I've been working on that plan this past week, and through NGO partners have presented it to NOAH, the National organization for the ADvancement of Haitians and also to a member of the Haitian American chamber of commerce.

As the plan develops further, I still continue to focus on the job at hand. Getting supplies, volunteers and patients to the most appropriate places to receive care.

My last 2 days in Haiti were busy ones. Our first problem came with finding a hotel in PAP. You wouldn't think this would be a problem but it was. And not in-expensive either, $400 for 3 rooms. Oh, how nice the air conditioning felt. My final day we had a meeting with Direct Relief International and the American Logsitics support network. Then I was off to catch my plane to Cap Haitian in the north while the team returned to Leogane. I had planned to spend more time in Cap to visit the clinic but my meetings in PAP took precedence. My HVH clinic manager, Santo Pierre met me at the airport and then we were quickly off on a Haitian mini-bus to the Dominican border.

It was the first time I had travelled to the Dominican. It's funny, typically the north always seemed much more crowded and chaotic than the south but after having seen the devastation of the earthquake the North truly looked green and beautiful. Santo and I talked busy the entire time to the border, where we decided to purchase a truck for our doctor and nurse...which would double as a part time tap tap (cab service) and also a standby ambulance. It seems like an excellent example of a cost recovery program.

The dominican border is interesting if you are travelling by local transport. I got off the Haitian minibus in Ounaminthe, got on a motorcycle with my suitcase sitting on the handlebars and Santo on a second one. At the border, I paid the Haitian departure tax of $10 USD. Then we continued by motorcycle about 500 feet and that was it. I got off, my suitcase was put into a wheelbarrow and Santo and I crossed to the DR border office. They took my passport, entered it into a computer that had an attached internet card, I paid another $10 USD and I was in. I took a motorocyle with Santo to the Dominican bus station and then boarded a proper air-conditioned bus for Santiago. (3 hours for $5). I must admit, it is a fast and efficient way to travel.

In Santiago, my medical student Roosevelt Pierre (Santo's brother) greeted me at the bus station. Well, I had to use some of my basic spanish, find a pay phone and then eventually through the manager of an internet cafe, I found Roosevelt.

He had a friend pick me up in a cab and we went for dinner before heading back to Roosevelt's dorm room. Myself and 4 others sponsor Roosevelt's medical education. In return he has made a commmittment to us to return to Haiti to work for the Haitian people. He has 18 months until he completes his studies and I am hoping to obtain a residency position in the USA or Canada for him. Doctors like him will be the leaders of tomorrow for Haiti.

So, next morning I was up at 0400 for the Jetblue flight from Santiago to Bermuda via NYC.

It was a whirlwind trip, only 7 days on the ground but it provided me personally with direction as well as my staff on the ground. Haiti Village Health has expanded from our initial clinic in the north but we still uphold the principles of bringing sustainable health care and support to Haitians, by Haitian.

I will be returning to Haiti on Thursday for 10 days for further meetings, and will be spending time at my village in the North.

I will keep you posted.
Tiffany Keenan

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Re: jacmel update

Update....Haiti Village Health

Just to let you know, Dr. Mona Alexis will continue to work for Haiti Village Health on the ground in Jacmel.  She still continues to work closely with the Health Cluster system, and also the refugee camp at Pinchinat.  Feel free to email any questions you have about Health care in the Southeast.

Fredo Fiefie will remain as on oursite Guest House manager, and will also be managing our Jacmel Air account.  Again, feel free to direct any questions regarding to the Jacmel Air account and he will provide appropriate referrals to the leaders of the cluster system.

Ruth Pierre, who is a nursing student and also speaks excellent will be available for medical teams as a volunteer.  We are hoping to provide her with on the job training until she resumes school in the fall.

I will continue to work closely with my team on the ground in NGO liason and support.

Most recently I am working on a proposal to present to NOAH, National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians, and Americares(investing 50 million to Haiti), and the ClintonBushFund for a National NGO coordination project.

I feel the importance of NGO coordination cannot be overstated. It was estimated by PEPFAR prior to the earthquake that 75% of Health care in Haiti was provided by NGOs.  We have to channel our resources as much as possible toward a better future for Haiti.

Tiffany Keenan

On Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 9:42 PM, Haiti Village Health <> wrote:
hi everybody,
 The logistic coordonator and the dental medical team are leaving today.  want everyone to be a part of everything that is happening.  

Haiti Village Health
Operation:  Jacmel Airport
NGO Coordination

Dr. Tiffany Keenan
Haiti Village Health, Founder & Director
NGO Coordinator, Jacmel Airport   (Haiti Health Database)
Bermuda 441-599-7709
Haiti 509-3727-5832, 3486-6020
skype  tiffany.keenan.1971
Yesterday the medical team and I (the communications director) flew back into Port-au-Prince, so my time in Jacmel has come to an end. We had the opportunity to take the MAF private jet (as we drove into Jacmel a week ago) and to see the island of Haiti from a birds eye view was as unfortunate to witness as if you were on land. While we flew over I was able to view the many camps, tents, destroyed buildings, rubble and the amount of sanitation that had piled up in the 2 months after the quake.

Once we reached land, my heart began to ache once again having to face the thousands of people who sat along the sides of the city desperately trying to continue their reality of work and survive in the burning heat. As we crossed the place in which a market use to stand, people were now forced to sell their merchandise (meats, vegetables, fruits, clothes) in any place available. It made my reality of going back to Bermuda in a matter of days fearful; there was still a great need. Although I had the opportunity to help with distribution of food, medical services, visits to the orphanages and refugee camps I had the feeling of wanting to give more. We all did. The medical team had expressed to me, during the week in which they had worked at St. Michel's Hospital, there was still supplies needed and how the hospital was still in chaos.

During the day I had volunteered to work with them and I too saw the process and conditions amongst not only the people but as well as the doctors throughout the hospital. As people came in the clinic for medical treatment I watched how it took hours sometimes to even be triaged. With no medical experience myself I was given the role to assist anybody who was in need of information. From 9am to 4pm I grew remorseful by the amount of people who overflowed the waiting room, as I heard children who screamed in pain, and while others constantly asked how much longer would they have to wait. For a person who does not engage in any type of medical services I tried to assist in any way possible regardless the difficulty.

By the end of the day I was both emotionally and physically exhausted but wanted to encourage people to make a step and try to handle the responsibilities of being a true volunteer and helping those in need in Haiti.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

After a week in Jacmel, Haiti and as one of the new Communication Directors to the Haiti Village Health NGO it has been a non-stop adventure from the beginning. At the age of 21 and my first time assisting with relief work I find the mind-blowing experience, fulfilling yet overwhelming beyond measure. I try to recall the days just after the earthquake, while I sat home in Bermuda, watching CNN news obsessively trying to paint a picture which would help me grasp a better perspective of what Haiti must look like. Not imagining 2 months later I would fly into Port-au-Prince along with 2 others and gain the opportunity to view the disaster myself.

For the first few days my eyes were distraught to the many things that they were being exposed to. With thousands of people along the streets as we drove through Port-au-Prince and moving swiftly along to the Southeast, Jacmel which was our destination, I grew speechless. Wondering if the terror of it all would ever end I became sadden to what was being presented in front of me for 4 hours straight. By my first night I knew my main objective would be to do any and everything within power to help the people of Haiti; but where do I start.

Traveling to St. Teresa’s orphanage instantly became an interest of mine. Seeing all the children that ran throughout the rubble from the collapsed buildings bare footed astounded me but they played around it as if it did not exist. As myself and 3 others exited the truck I was startled as one child grabbed my hand, looked up at me and smiled. I immediately noticed that most if not all the children carried a warm, softening look along their faces and became tremendously excited to see each of us. The little one that adopted me into his world quickly took me around the area showing me the place which he now called home. Unable to communicate through words his facial expressions had told me everything that I needed to know about what he was trying to tell me. At this moment I had realized that kids will be kids, they did not choose this world, they was given it. After our tour we decided to complete a small distribution of juice boxes, blankets and snacks amongst the children we saw and give the rest to the nuns for later. As we left they thanked us by waving as the truck pulled away, shouting “Merci”. For the rest of the trip back to the guest house I sat and realized that it was the first time coming face to face with the suffering that had overcome this town and my heart began to ache for them but also encouraged me to continue my mission. Just seeing the looks on all their faces meant they were grateful for the work we were trying to accomplish.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Emergency Stage for HVH

During the first weeks following the quake, as you know Haiti Village Health was assigned to the operating of the airstrip in Jacmel. While the airport became flooded of planes and volunteers it was our responsibility to record the responsive teams that flew in. Here is a brief overview of the numbers which we verified:


week 3: 39
week 4: 80
week 5: 59
week 6: 59
week 7: 50
week 8: 19
TOTAL: 306


week 3: 18
week 4: 76
week 5: 54
week 6: 58
week 7: 45
week 8: 39
week 9: 4
TOTAL: 294

As you can see Haiti Village Health relief staff were exceptionally busy to assure that teams arrived safely throughout the emergency stages post earthquake.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Update, Saturday, back in Haiti

I just wanted to give you an update from Jacmel and also share the article wrtten about my work, and the work of Joseph Barnell, and list other great contacts for telecomms in PAP.

I spent just 24 hours in PAP but made great connections with JPHRO, a relief organization started by Sean Penn and Alison Thompson which provides direct relief to the second largest IDP camp in PAP.  They're doing great work servicing a refugee camp (IDP camp) of over 50,000 people.
They have teamed up with Bill Coltart's CMAT,   who will help provide a staff of medical volunteers and
IMAT, Chris Thompkins 
(I sent Chris and other volunteers to Leogane in days after the quake where they ended up working with CMAT)
I met Dr. Jim Thompson,
The work he is doing in biosurveillance in PAP is amazing, and for only 500K he could get the country connected.  The article on SMS technology for tracking this epidimilogy information could easily be applied to distribution and supply of medication and even medical personnel.
Today we spent time working on our Networking meeting for the Southeast on Monday.  We have invited all NGOs in the area, along with OCHA, the Mayor's office and the Senator's office. 
We sat down tonight with 4 of the large health NGOs in jacmel to plan on how we can improve our own coordination and.
I feel that this is finally starting to come together and will keep you posted on the south, Hopefully we'll get our protype started in the north soon (we've already had a meeting with MSPP there) and with funding, only 750K, we can get all of Haiti coordinated in terms of NGOs.
In a country that has more NGOs per capita in any of the world, why does Haiti remain in such chaos?  Some may complain about the lack of coordination in the Haiti government, or corruption.  I say one of our faults as first world society's is our own lack of coordination among NGOs.
The time is now for change.  I only hope that there is someone out their with funding to help me, and the many small NGOs I've worked with , to make that change happen.


Dr. Tiffany Keenan
Haiti Village Health, Founder & Director
NGO Coordinator, Jacmel Airport   (Haiti Health Database)
Bermuda 441-599-7709
Haiti 509-3727-5832, 3486-6020
skype  tiffany.keenan.1971

Another write-up - Tiffany calls it like it is!

Haiti: Time for an NGO Police?
by Georgianne Nienaber

"Any military commander will tell you that the first step to taking control of an area is to take over the airport."

And so Dr. Tiffany Keenan, an emergency room doctor from Bermuda, did so at the Jacmel airport in the days and weeks immediately following the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. Keenan looks like she weighs about 100 pounds soaking wet, but don't let that fool you. Not only did she coordinate air traffic and relief deliveries with the Canadian military, she also managed to update a database of health clinics in the region--all within five weeks time. As a direct result of her tenacity and take charge attitude, many emergency supply flights were able to land, and she immediately placed doctors and nurses on choppers to assist in areas most in need. Meanwhile, everything and everyone else was bottled up in the Dominican Republic or at the heavily damaged Port-au-Prince airport.

We met her after conversing with Namita Kumar, her logistics coordinator at Haiti Village Health. Kumar was sharing an internet connection with us at a hotel in Petionville while we were uploading some stories and photos. When she heard about an IDP camp we visited that was in desperate need of medical care, she forwarded our videos and photos to Dr. Keenan who got back to us within hours, wanting to meet and share information. Timing was dicey, since we were all moving quickly, but a missed flight left the doctor in Port-au-Prince for an unplanned night. So, we secured a room for her and headed out to dinner to get acquainted.

Canadian-born Keenan is all rapid-fire talk and earnest blue eyes. Taking notes resulted in my pen tearing the paper several times as it skidded across the surface in a desperate attempt to keep up with her enthusiasm, ideas, and heart-felt passion for the Haitian people. She founded Haiti Village Health, in 2006 with the hope of creating a sustainable medical infrastructure staffed by Haitians and not foreign NGOs.

The water glasses had yet to appear on the table before the doctor showed us the most important piece of paper in her possession. It looks like she talks--a maze of ideas and logistics combined with a veritable warren of associations that form her plan for health coordination in rural Haiti. Keenan decries the "band-aid" approach of foreign aid, which may dress the wound, but does nothing to solve the very real problems faced by Haitian society.

A nationally recognized NGO coordinator is one of her dreams for Haiti. This requirement is especially evident in the aftermath of the earthquake. Keenan says that it was only she and the Salvation Army who spoke with the local Senator about relief coordination. After working in Haiti for over four years she says, " It has taken me a long time to realize that for real change to happen in the long run, you must work with the Haitian government."

During the confusion, chaos and ongoing lack of emergency healthcare coordination, Dr. Keenan encountered some NGO missionary groups that she found to be standoffish and has concerns that one group in particular was doing field amputations with no anesthesia. We have heard similar reports, so her account rang true. "There were six hospitals in operation where they could have taken these patients," she said.

The end result is that Keenan now sees a need for "an NGO police."

"We need more coordination. Why set up a new clinic within two minutes walking distance from an existing one?"

The answer is obvious, but this kind of duplication of services and stockpiling of supplies without matching resources with needs is common these days in post-catastrophe Haiti.

She is hoping Haiti Village Health will get government recognition as an NGO liaison--her polite term for the "NGO police."

Keenan is especially critical of NGOs that "overstate what they have done since the quake. They want their names stamped all over this (disaster)." What she says is true. The logos of international "charitable" organizations are more numerous than the number of tents in the IDP camps. Make no mistake about it charity is "corporate business" in Haiti.

Doctors Without Borders has crossed her steadfast path more than once, and it appears that the fiery Keenan is beginning to make an impression.

"I'm a bit of a cowboy, " she laughs.

No kidding.

A Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontiers) representative initially told her that the French NGO was not going to cooperate with the local Haitian hospital. "Then two or three days later, they showed up and said they were going to TAKE OVER THE HOSPITAL," she says.

It did not take much more for Keenan to "get into a heated discussion with them," and within six days MSF was talking with the Community Coalition for Haiti about what Haitians wanted for Haitians. Keenan did not mention whether she rode a white horse and lassoed and hog-tied the French doctors in the process.

This is not the first time the medical aid group has been under criticism while working in a disaster area and ignoring local wishes. After the Indonesian tsunami it was widely reported that MSF urged donors to stop sending it money for Asian tsunami victims, saying it had collected enough funds to manage its own relief effort there and that donors should focus on donating to other MSF relief efforts. Meanwhile other aid organizations were scrambling for donations and rebuilding had barely begun.

When we discussed the video of the forsaken IDP camp on Highway 1, Keenan was incensed. "This should not be happening now!" The camp has no medical care, not enough tents, no food deliveries and little water. The only aid we saw there was a group of latrine builders from the Irish NGO, HAVEN.

It was good to hear Keenan agree with our assessment that aid is not being distributed equitably here. HAVEN was the first aid group we encountered at the Highway 1 camp, even though we had been mentioning their plight wherever we stopped and had stopped back on a regular basis to see how they were faring. HAVEN asked us if we had seen other camps without sanitation and took notes on their locations. It seems that the smaller groups and individuals like Keenan have a much better ability to grasp the enormity of what is needed. Perhaps it is because they are not afraid to move among the Haitian people and go to the locations where desperation is reaching epic proportions.

Keenan minced no words about planeload after planeload of missionaries flying into Port-au-Prince on American Airlines.

"This is nothing more than disaster tourism. Why don't they send money instead of people? Why are missionaries bringing builders? Haitians can do their own building."

Keenan funds all of her emergency relief work in Haiti out-of-pocket. More than once she has been told that her job in Bermuda is on the line because of her relief work. She was $15,000 in the hole until friends and supporters did a benefit for her that she says, "Brought me to about par."

This is a problem faced by doctors who work in disaster situations, let alone those who volunteer time for consistent charitable work in countries like Haiti. Jobs and family harmony at home are put at risk and personal income and savings take huge hits.

"You know that movie with Kevin Costner? Well I keep thinking if I continue building my dream here, it will all happen. I never know if there will be enough money, but I was finally able to buy an old truck for the clinic with the last of the money."

What is her biggest dream now?

If we could get 60 Blackberries, I could link all of the doctors and nurses here. Mobile devices are the key to communication, where travel is so difficult. There is a prototype--it is da-bomb--a digital stethoscope that you can attach to a Blackberry and transmit the information to a doctor here or in the States or wherever. Nurses could use it in rural communities where we cannot send doctors on a regular basis.

Image: Dr. Keenan discussing the possibilities of social networking with bio-surviellance expert Jim Wilson

Keenan recognizes that without a communications network to allocate supplies from central locations, relief workers cannot do their jobs. She sees social networking and mobile technology as key elements in monitoring of disease outbreaks as well.

Dr. Keenan, who has worked in Canada, Bermuda, Congo and Haiti, was first introduced to the village of Bod Me Limbe during a visit to the North of Haiti while working in the Capital, Port au Prince in early 2006. Haiti is a permanent part of her life now.

"I don't have children, so I guess you could say that Haiti is my baby."

After a week of witnessing despair like we have never seen, Dr. Keenan is a breath of fresh air, inspiration, and hope that individuals can make a difference.

You can keep up with Keenan at her blog and on Facebook.

That is, if keeping up with her is even a remote possibility.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday, March 16

As Haiti Village Health's new logistics rep, I spent the first couple of days acclimatizing to my new surroundings, never having done disaster relief work before. I quickly saw the mammoth undertaking that Tiffany and her team have taken upon themselves and I admire them for it. There are a lot of NGOs here in Jacmel and a lot of people who need them. Now it's a question of getting exactly what is needed to the people who need it most. Like I said, a mammoth undertaking.

After a couple of days, I felt like I was getting the hang of what it is I was supposed to be doing. A lot of my work as logistics rep is done on the computer and I was finding myself eager to also get out there and see the people and do what I could for them. So I was eagerly anticipating participating in the flashlight distribution to Camp Pinchinat. Pinchinat is the biggest Displaced Persons Camp in Jacmel, housing over 1000 families. They all live in tents crowded together in a soccer stadium and with no electricity, there were daily fire alarms as people used candles to see at night. So it was imperative we get them these flashlights (donated by the Canadian military) as soon as possible. Jo and I were in charge of doing the distribution, but I quickly learned that it would not be the simple matter of marching into the camp with the flashlights and handing them out. As with any space crowded with people who lack everything, there are some small security issues with Pinchinat. So to make sure we would be able to distribute the flashlights fairly and without causing any problems, we invited 2 of the camp's managers to sit down with us as well as a rep from the Canadian military to discuss the best way to do this. Within half an hour we had a plan and were just waiting on a list of the camp's most needy (women with kids, pregnant women, old people) to distribute to priority tents.

We arrived at the camp at 9am on Friday: Jo, myself, and two of our staff from the airport to help carry the boxes, Gaby and Placide. This was the first time I had gone in depth into the camp and seen just how people were suffering from the quake. The tents were indeed close together, and had nothing inside them except a couple of mattresses. While we were there, camp residents were busy with their daily routine (washing clothes making food, kids running around and playing) in the most unnatural of circumstances. Despite their desperate need for lighting, the residents were respectful of us. Though one or two hanger-ons kept asking us to give them "a flash", and others followed us around as we endlessly made our way up and down the rows, they let us do our job and tried to help us where they could. It was hard work, harder than I expected. With the heat and the extent of the camp, it took a long time to do the distribution. It was also hard because it was the first time I came face to face with how people are suffering and my heart broke for them. It was nice that we could play a small part in making their lives just a little easier and I only wish we had another 1000 of anything to give them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Airport Changes

Well, I'm still trying to micromanage issues from home.  Yesterday our Canadian friends, the military left the airport.   Our staff arranged a small goodbye for them on Friday by having a Haitian Troubadour band perform.  Their departure brings changes to our airport.
The Canadian had been providing security, and were giving the Airport Authority instruction on airport operations.  We will see how this week unfolds without their presence on the ground.
Namita Kumar, my logistics rep from Canada has been doing a wonderful job keeping the flow going on the ground.  My staff still remain Ruth, Fredo and Gaby however on Thursday when the electricity was removed (as the Canadians were closing up) we moved our main operations to the Haiti Village House Guest House located about 5 minutes from the airport.  One staff member still remains at the airport daily, with internet connection being available at the house.
Haiti Village Health had received a donation of crank-handheld flashlights from the Canadian military.  These were distributed this week by team members.  Namita will send an update of her time spent at the refugee camp giving out these lights. 
On the home front, Bermudians Leanna Lambert (upcoming journalist), Dr. Kianna Simmons (dentist) and Dr. Kimberly Rego (physician) are planning their journey to Haiti on March 19th.  Dr. Simmons is hoping to start a regional dental facility in Jacmel as her mother is originally from the area.
Fundraising, the Bermuda Government hosted a "FOR HAITI WITH LOVE" telethon last sunday and the total is up to $100,000.    Haiti Village Health was represented and will receive 1/4 of the proceeds which is wonderful.
Fundraising efforts were happening in Canada as well with a concert night hosted by Susan Butler and a hockey game hosted by Jonathan Cormier with proceeds towards HVH and ORA (a partner in Canada).
Please continue to think of Haiti village Health as our budget has grown from $25,000 annually to $40,000 with extra staff and supplies we've needed post earthquake.
Thank you for your support. 
Dr. Tiffany Keenan
Haiti Village Health, Founder & Director
NGO Coordinator, Jacmel Airport   (Haiti Health Database)
Bermuda 441-599-7709
Haiti 509-3727-5832, 3486-6020
skype  tiffany.keenan.1971

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Update March 10th

Well, it's just over 2 weeks since I returned from Haiti and things are changing every day.  The airport authority has decided to stop international flights when the Canadian Military leaves on Sunday.  This will severely limit the medical teams and supplies that come in to the region.  In one regard we should be thankful we've been able to continue on for two months, but in another, it's unfortunate that "free aid" will have difficulty getting into the country.
My staff on the ground are doing their best to work with the Airport Authority on this issue and we are making appeals to the Mayor's office and Senator to see if we can extend jacmel's time as "International Airport"
Dr. Mona is still continuing her work at the Health Meetings and Namita Kumar, our new logistics rep, has been doing a great job keeping things organized.
More updates on fundraising efforts soon.

Dr. Tiffany Keenan
Haiti Village Health, Founder & Director
NGO Coordinator, Jacmel Airport   (Haiti Health Database)
Bermuda 441-599-7709
Haiti 509-3727-5832, 3486-6020
skype  tiffany.keenan.1971

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Haiti Village Health Gains More Publicity

Doctor's Haiti mission gets a helping hand

By Nadia Arandjelovic

Helping out: Sandys Rotary Club recently donated a cheque for $5,120 to Haiti Health Village (HVH), following a presentation by its founder Dr. Tiffany Keenan, currently an Emergency Room Physician at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. HVH provides health and medical services to rural villages in Haiti. Pictured are Sandys Rotary Club's president James Watlington and Dr. Keenan.

A doctor who built a clinic in a small Haitian village has received a donation from the Sandys Rotary Club to continue her work.
The club gave $5,120 to Haiti Village Health (HVH), a charity founded by Bermuda resident Tiffany Keenan.
Funds were raised through a donation from members, which was matched by Sandys Rotary.
The money will be used to buy a number of portable solar-powered chlorine generators to provide safe drinking water for up to 5,000 villagers in Bord de Mer Limbe in North Haiti.
Dr. Keenan, who works as an Emergency Room physician at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, thanked the club and said: "This donation will provide a long-term solution to drinking water needs for many thousands of Haitians. HVH is grateful to Sandys Rotary Club for their support and generosity."
Haiti is recognised as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Much of its 8.3 million population lives on less than $1 a day.
Dr. Keenan, a Canadian, first visited the developing country in 2006 on a volunteer project. It was then she realised how much need there was for proper medical facilities and even basic sanitation services there.

She began taking medical teams to the village each time with more doctors, nurses and medical supplies. In the fall of 2007 she raised enough money through private donations to set up a permanent clinic.
In June of 2008 she opened the clinic doors to the community and staffed the facility with Haitians, including a nurse, doctor and two community health workers all of whom are volunteers. In May of this year, she opened a similar project in the southern region of the Caribbean island.
Dr. Keenan said: "Before this people had to travel for an hour-and-a-half on foot for full-time services, or two hours by motorcycle or truck to get to the closest hospital."
Forced to drink untreated water from a dirty well, people suffered from stomach bugs, diarrhea and even typhoid, she explained.
Sandys Rotary's donation "is really going to change things" said Dr. Keenan.
"People, especially children, will be a lot healthier when the water project is started," she added.
So far every dollar that is raised for HVH goes directly towards their projects.
Dr. Keenan takes volunteers with her to Haiti three or four times each year a team of 12 can treat up to 200 patients a day. In the past year she has seen progress in the community: "I think you see the big change in the children. They are happier, their energy level is higher."
Though she didn't initially intend to become so involved in the project, Dr. Keenan did so because the work needed to be done.
She told The Royal Gazette: "My life will never be the same and I know Haiti will always be a part of my life. Haiti is where my heart is at the moment."
l For more information or to donate visit

Another Write-Up in "The Royal Gazette"

Bermuda doctor meets movie star Angelina Jolie in Haiti

By Mikaela Ian Pearman

Bermuda-based doctor Tiffany Keenan (left) meets movie star Angelina Jolie in Haiti.

Bermuda-based Emergency Room Doctor Tiffany Keenan got a touch of glamour while treating earthquake victims in Haiti when movie star Angelina Jolie showed up.
Ms Jolie visited Jacmel — a village in Haiti— on Wednesday and was met by members of the Canadian Force and Dr. Keenan.
The actress travelled to Haiti in support of humanitarian efforts being made by the international community since the earthquake devastated the country January 12.
She came on a United Nations aircraft and said: "I think that all the efforts being made to deliver aid to Haiti are amazing. It's beautiful to see the enthusiasm of the people who are here in support of the Haitian people. The co-operation among all the nations who've come here is wonderful and heart-warming."
On Dr. Keenan's blog,, she said: "A great start to the day. Ms Jolie just passed through Jacmel airport. She was greeted by the UN and Canadian military. The Major was kind enough to make introductions for me.
"We discussed my coordination at the airport, and she asked about the need for certain countries to help in certain zones. I told her we had just discussed this in our health meeting.
"She was very pleasant and not at all rushed to talk, but she had an agenda and the UN whisked her away to Pinchinat, the refugee camp. Great to have her bringing more publicity to Haiti. And yes she is beautiful."

Dr. Keenan left for Haiti a week after the hurricane and has not said when she will return.
The 38-year-old, who lives in Paget, set up the Haiti Village Health charity several years ago and has a clinic in the northern part of the island, run by locals.
While she is in Jacmel treating patients, she updates her blog daily.
On Tuesday she said: "Busy day as always. Sorry about the spam e-mail. Meeting tonight with hospital, community coalition for Haiti and MSF. Trying to improve flow there.
"Today flew plane of 6 patients to US coordinated by team Ange. Two young kids with amputations. Very hard to see but they will be fitted with prosthetic limbs. One young boy with fractured tib fib and external fixators. Docs advised amputation but hoping to save his leg at shriners hospital.
"Moved new medical team to Pinchinat refugee camp. Venezuelans starting work as well. Globe and Mail reporters in town. May stay at my new guesthouse. Busy busy. Goodnight."
She also spoke about a possibly of staying in Haiti.
"Our team has grown to eight at present and we still need a few more. One of our concerns is the need for a coordinated effort for future health care in the region. I see myself as having a long term role to play in this situation. I did have a potential job offer from the Director of the Dominican Red Cross. I would love to continue in this role, but it is difficult without full funding and I have my work responsibilities as a full-time emergency doctor in Bermuda."
Earlier this week, Dr. Keenan fell victim to an Internet scam and her e-mail account was hacked with the sender asking for money.
The message said she was in the UK from a week in Haiti helping earthquake victims and her hotel was destroyed by fire. It also said she had no means of paying for the hotel and needed $2,070 in order to return home.

Article Written in Bermuda's "The Royal Gazette"

Bermuda-based doctor ended up running Haiti's airport::

By Sam Strangeways

Emergency room doctor Tiffany Keenan went to Haiti to tend to earthquake victims — and found herself running an airport.
The King Edward VII Memorial Hospital medic has just returned from five weeks in the Caribbean country, where she took charge of Jacmel Airport in the south.
Dr. Keenan told The Royal Gazette: "I thought I would do medicine. The Canadian disaster relief team was volunteering in Jacmel and I thought I would join them. But as soon as I saw what was going on in the airport, I knew I couldn't leave."
The 38-year-old Canadian had been to Haiti many times before the catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit on January 12. She set up a charity called Haiti Village Health several years ago and has a clinic in the north, run by locals.
She arranged to stay with friends from the organisation Joy in Hope Ministries and flew into Jacmel Airport on a private flight a week after the earthquake.
As the aircraft neared land, she saw one of her friends directing planes on the ground. "He had taken over Jacmel Airport," said Dr. Keenan, who lives in Paget.
She explained that the mayor and airport authority ceded control as they were unable to cope with the sudden influx of flights bringing in supplies, aid workers and military personnel.
"It's a tiny airport," she said. "It had previously had two flights a week. We were getting at least 35 to 40 flights a day.
"It seemed completely unreal and we would look at one another at night and say: 'How can we be doing this?' Pure adrenalin keeps you going all day long."
Dr. Keenan, who speaks French and the local Creole, helped her friends at the airport for several days before they announced they were leaving and wanted her to take over.
Along with a midwife friend from Canada, she did just that, spending the next month greeting planes, organising medical evacuations, registering air arrivals, getting vital supplies onto the right trucks and helping aid workers get where they needed to go.
The women had to hire their own security — men with baseball bats — and act as immigration officers, noting down passengers' passport details in a notebook.
Their efforts did not go unnoticed — CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour visited the airport, as did film star and UN ambassador Angelina Jolie.
"I became good friends with air traffic control," said Dr. Keenan. "Those were the guys responsible for getting people on helicopters and up into the mountains. I knew I could go and do the [medical] work but if I didn't stay, who was going to stay and coordinate on the ground?"
As the weeks progressed, the Canadian military gradually began to take over airport operations, working with Dr. Keenan and volunteers she had managed to recruit.
As well as running the airport, she and her team collected data for a long-term health coordination project aimed at assessing the medical facilities of the whole island.
Although she got to treat just one patient while in Haiti this time — a road crash victim from Canada — Dr. Keenan has no regrets about the trip and plans to return there on March 18.
She now has 15 staff working for her in Haiti, as well as people helping in North America and volunteer Lianna Lambert in Bermuda.
"I'm very happy with what happened — this project exploded and it exploded in five weeks," said Dr. Keenan, who is originally from New Brunswick. "I ended up getting involved in so many things.
"For me, this was my dream job, even though it's not true emergency medicine. Taking over a whole airport was never what I planned to do. Even though I didn't touch patients, I know I was putting doctors in the right places to give the best medical care."
• Read more about Dr. Keenan's time in Haiti and her health coordination project at Donations to her charity can be made to Bank of Bermuda account number 010-871135-001.

Monday, March 08, 2010


Well it's March 8th. I'm here in Bermuda and it's been a busy two weeks since I returned home. The work has not stopped in any way, I've just had to add on some emergency room shifts on top of keeping our operations running in Jacmel. Luckily I've got great staff on the ground that are keeping this process going. You'll see we've added some photos and will start to add regular links of up to date information from the southeast region. Information on flights, medical teams, and weekly reports on our situation on the ground. New changes will be coming to the blog in the upcoming weeks as well.

Here in Bermuda, tonight the government is hosting a Haiti Telethon and Haiti Village Health is being recognized as one of the recipients. I will keep you all posted.

I will be returning to Haiti March 18th with a team from Bermuda.

Photos from Haiti

Haiti 7.0 Earthquake

Photos from Haiti

Haiti 7.0 Earthquake

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Funny thing about working in a third world country that you do not have a radio station or television to find out what the weather is going to be. Having no ac or heat in our houses or tents we just have to adapt to the climate.
Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sunday, February 21st.

I'm sitting here on a corner bench table in Nassau, having left Haiti yesterday at noon. I think I left off yesterday morning, getting to the airport early to get a sick missionary friend out of the country.

The next few hours were just a blur. I knew my plane was coming at 1:00 and I had to have my exit strategy in place. Managing 10 staff is not an easy thing, but it definately works better when everyone has a job description and knows how to answer up the chain. We'd met on Friday to discuss the strategy and yesterday I had to put the final plan into action.

Our Project Jacmel Airport staff is as follows:

Director and Founder - Me, Dr. Tiffany Keenan volunteer

Airport Logistics Coordinator - Cesar Espinoza (Calvary Chapel) volunteer

Health Coordinator - Karen Cimer volunteer, and just hired yesterday my doctor from the north, Mona Alexis

Health Volunteer Coordinator - Marilyn Wilson volunteer (based in US)

Airport Registration - Ruth, Fredo and Gaby, Deanna Canadian Military Clerk

Flight and Supply Coordinator - Gina volunteer (Joy in Hope Ministries)

Airport baggage handlers - 4 haitian bulky men

HVH Guest House/Airport go to guy - Evans (whose house burned down yesterday and his uncle was severely burned, I still did hear how he was doing)

HVH Guest House Cook - Genesis (it was her granddaughter that survived after 15 days in the rubble post earthquake)

HVH Guest House Cleaner - Irinese

Tap tap driver - Jacques (this is the one we're renting for $60/day and starts with a screwdriver in the ignition)

I didn't mention my friend Jo Barbosa in all of this. He presently works for Hearts Together for Haiti in the Dominican Republic but he did come over for 2 weeks to assist at the airport, but will be returning to his project in the Dominican.

That actually makes 19 in total. Wow, I didn't know the operation had grown so large.

So I worked on the job descriptions, had everyone sign off on them and tried to wrap things up by 1:00. It was a tight deadline. I wanted to explore depots for medical supplies in town so I arranged for Maggie from Community Coalition for Haiti to meet with Maxo Noel, pharmacist to explore 3 buildings in town. They also met with the supply coordinator from the Canadian military to discuss inventory computerized options.

It was a quick departure once my plane arrived. I said my quick goodbyes to all including Major Kevin Skirrow of the Canadian Forces and Bassin, Airport Director and of course all my Haitian staff. I registered my passport as we all do before departure and headed out to my plane. It was so busy in those last few moments that Jo actually walked to the bathroom with me and we talked outside the stall about a few pressing issues.

Dr. Mona Alexis had arrived and I briefly said to her as I greeted her that we wanted to offer her a new job as Health Coordinator in Jacmel (we had already discussed her taking a break from my clinic in the north and she arranged a locum replacement. I had arranged for her husband Wilson to get a job with Save the Children earlier in the week). So with a kiss on the cheek, i told her to discuss the new job with Karen.

Karen Cimer, a Newfoundlander is a real trooper. We've been working together for over 4 years now at my clinic in the North and I convinced her to come down to replace me when I knew I had to return to work in Bermuda. With only 5 days on the ground, I was handing the reigns over to her and now she's got to train Mona. It looks like we'll be getting satellite internet at the guest house and a generator, so I'll be able to maintain contact with her through skype and blackberry communications.

So, a dramatic ending...but then a delay. Two US Navy helicopters arrived with some top brass so our small plane's departure was delayed until they shut down their engines. I had time to run back inside, grab my memory stick, phone charger and drop off the house keys.

The two pilots picked me up in a columbia aircraft....great plane. Joan, a medical resident who had been working in Les Cayes was also on board. It was just a small 4 seater but a luxury aircraft. I never knew that small planes could fly so high. At one point we were above 16,000 feet and were wearing oxygen. I knew we were climbing high and when I checked my initial oxygen saturation it was only 84%. I guess that's why I was yawning.

We had to drop down because we had ice forming on the wings and then were able to remove the oxygen. We landed first in Provinciales in Turks and Caicos to refuel. It was a brief stop and then off to Nassau. I actually feel asleep for about 30 minutes on the plane. For once, I didn't get out my notebook to plan. I was able to get a good aerial view of the damage in the Leogane region as we flew over. Leogane, Grand Goave, Petit Goave was the epicenter of the quake. Buildings everywhere were crumbled and tent cities could be seen all over.

We landed in Nassau around 5:30 at the Odyssey airport. I had already met Matt, Abraham and Cameron of the Bahamas Habitat crew but it was great to see their staging area and depot at the airport. I headed over to the Sheraton Hotel (who does offer a rate of $135 per night for Humanitarian work) with the two pilots and Joan. We got together and discussed their experience in Haiti. One of the pilots was an incident commander and he gave me a one pointer, that I needed a communications director....
called away...more tomorrow

Dr. Tiffany Keenan
Haiti Village Health, Founder & Director
NGO Coordinator, Jacmel Airport

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Final morning

I was up at 5 o'clock today to the sound of roosters and the darkness. I started my day thinking about the past 5 weeks I've been on the ground and now today I must go home. I have a full time job as an emergency room doctor and must return to my duties.

I currently have a staff now of 10. Its unbelievable how things have changed in such a short period of time.

Last night the team finally had a chance to go for a swim, the first time in 5 weeks. We went to Cyvadier beach just 10 minutes from Jacmel and swam in the dark and munched on chicken from Madame Barbeque. In the dark you may ask?? Yes. We can't leave the airport in the day. Its open 7 am to dusk and we are there.

We did have a special guest at the beach, one of the regional senators is a friend of my Haitian friend so he came to chat with me on the beach as he knew I was leaving soon. He's actually a dentist and has insight to the healthcare system so he will be a valued resource.

Yesterday I sat with the team to work out an organization structure to plan for my departure. Everyone has a role and through the power of the internet and (soon a new satellite system) I will still be connected to my team through skype.

I also met with the Jacmel airport authority. They have requested my help in making Jacmel an international airport. We are compiling details of flights and volunteers to date, and will research interested airlines to put forward to the National Airport Authority to seek approval for International status. I'm not sure how far it will go but to date my team is currently acting in the capacity of immigration as we take passport details of all that enter. Yes, it does sound like I've got my hands into a lot, and it is true, I do. I'm just thankful for my volunteer staff.

I met with the delegate mayor yesterday as well. We discussed the health clinics in Jacmel as he haf not been receiving all the commnications from the Dept of Health. They've been very overwhelmed as you can imagine.

Well must go now, just got a call that one of our missionary friends is unwell and we've got to get her back home to the states. There's an early plane that will get her to santiago and from there to the US.

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Volunteers needed

As you may be aware, I have been working in Jacmel as NGO coordinator at the airport since January 18th. I am working with MSPP (Dept of Health) and the Health Cluster of the United Nations to help place medical teams in underserviced regions of the southeast. If you have friends that would be interested in volunteering in a hospital or at a mobile clinic, please have them email Marilyn at She will send them a brief introduction of our work and a registration form.

The immediate need for disaster relief is waning and we are now in the Early Recovery phase. Our goal is to augment the Haitian Health Care system and to create mobile teams for difficult to reach areas.

To date we have received over 350 NGO flights and 400+ volunteers through the Jacmel airport.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday Feb 18

The day starting when I met my new cook's granddaughter. My creole is getting better and after a few minutes I was able to grasp the real story. Genesis's (my cook) daughter was killed along with her husband in Port au Prince when the earthquake happened. Her grandaughter was also trapped in the house , for 15 days, but she survived. Someone was going through the rubble and found the baby who is only 1 year old. The baby was taken to the university hospital in PAP and remained for 3 days. She suffered cuts and bruises and just has a small scar on her left cheek and back. Physically she seems fine but one cannot even imagine the emotional impact of that situation on a 12 month old.

Genesis is so happy to have her granddaughter with her now but tears started to stream down her face when I asked about her daughter. She said she was only 20 years old and a beautiful, sweet girl.

As I sat with Karen after we said how that was only one story of the over 200,000 that lost their lives. In health care we're beginning to move into the recovery phase but how will the country deal with the long term emotional impact of this earthquake? Psychologists are starting to flow into the region, for both adults and children to help them deal with the impact. It is only the beginning.

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Tuesday and Wednesday February 16 to 18, 2010

Last night I attended my first Health Cluster meeting - about 25
Participants ranging from smaller ngo's to the WHO', Save the Children, and the Canadian DART team, sat in a large circle under canopy of a UN tent to exchange information about needs and strategize about addressing them. The meeting was chaired by the head of the Red Cross and the minister of health. Tiffany's matrix compilation of the needs and conditions of the health facilities and mobile clinics has become a major planning tool, referenced by all in the region.

Tuesday morning saw the arrival of our prime minister, Stephen Harper. The formality at the airport was only surpassed by the security - all the extra guns were out. He had a quick tour of the city before returning to the airport where he met five of the directors of local ngo's. Tiffany was among them, and of particular interest to the PM because of her coordination effort. Explanations of their work in this region were shared and some needs communicated. There were many official photos taken - to follow.

The afternoon was taken up largely with the usual airport confusion. I, Karen, was tasked with ordering medications and supplies from a Direct Relief International storage facility in Port au Prince - for the entire Jacmel region. There is no orientation for this or stats to guide me. This is a far cry away from ordering for a small clinic in Bod me Limbe. Multiply a Bod me Limbe order by thirty, I was told. My order was so large that it prompted an email of shock from PaP and Tiffany explained the need here which further prompted a visit from the organization to see how they can help us more. Going big worked for us.
Wednesday brought a new member to the HVH coordination project. Marlene, from ,New Orleans, arrived for an orientation on becoming the new coordinator of medical volunteers, in the USA, for our region. Interested volunteers will soon find an easy website to facilitate placement and travel to Jacmel. She is a delight and welcome addition and this service will help Haitians and Americans wonderfully.
We took time to celebrate the birthday of one of our key team members, Cesar, at a late night dinner in a local hotel. Our Haitian team members and friends were most of the party and it was a well deserved treat for all- after weeks without a day off; a gift to Cesar ourselves, and the suffering Haitian economy.
And by day's end, all the medications and supplies ordered from PaP had arrived via huge truck and were snuggly stored in our supply depot. And the email was sent to all the local ngo's to come and shop for free.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday Feb 18

I'm sorry I haven't blogged as much in recent days though a few of the other team members are now beginning to send updates. I will be leaving shortly and am trying to ensure continuity of the work I am doing here.

The past several days were busy. First Prime Minister Harpers visit. We had a wonderful discussion with him and a few of the NGOs on the ground.

We had several medical teams dispatched. A large one to Support thre hospital in Bainet just about 3 hours from here. The red cross dominican assisted with a salvation army relief clinic in Decosse just north of the city. The following day they helped at a clinic near the airport. They were also able to arrange transfer of a you baby with hydrocephalus t the dominican republic for treatment.

We have a medical team in seguin at present and another on their way there.

Karen Cimer, a HVH long term team member has arrived to continue my health coordination efforts. Marilyn Wilson arrived yesterday from New Orleans yesterday and will assume the role of volunteer coordinator. I met her husband on his way out of Haiti 2 weeks ago and we had a brief conversation about the importance of a coordinarted response to health care. He said Marilyn may be intereste and I'm so happy everything worked out and we were able to get her on the ground.

She will help coordinate volunteers from the USA and Canada to match our needs here in the south.

Cesar Espinoza from Florida started working with logistics over 1 week ago and I am very happy that he will be continuing for the next several months in that role.

The work at the airport is coming together but I've come a long way in just over a month.

Yesterday I was able to meet members of the organization Direct Relief International. They heard that I was coordinating ngos in Jacmel and contacted me regarding medication shipments. They were surprised with thr quantities I ordered from them. Once we chatted on the phone and after we met in person yesterday in the city they fully understand the need in trying to service all of southeastern Haiti.

I was happy that the Hearts Together Team from Windsor, Ontario had arrived as they were able to assist with the unloading of a full cube van full of medications.

So, that's a little insight to the last few days. We did pause last night after the truck got unloaded to celebrate Cesar's 32nd birthday. We took our truck, a tap tap that we rent for 60 bucks a day and has to be started with a screwdriver to a nice restaurant in Cayes Jacmel, about 20 minutes away. We don't get much of a break here so it was nice to be together outside of the airport environment. Cesar had an enjoyable time and happy birthday was sung in all languages.

On the tap tap ride home someone commented how different life is here in Haiti. I hope from reading my blog that you are able to get some idea of the challenges faced in the disaster relief efforts.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 20l0

A new perspective: working with Tiffany:

We awakened in great comfort relative to our Haitian neighbors. It was the second night in the new HVH guesthouse - rented and furnished by Tiffany and Jo. It will be used to house visiting volunteers and generate income for HVH. We had scrambled eggs for breakfast before taking a tap-tap to the airport

I am new here -HVH team member, Karen from Newfoundland - and tasked with learning Tiffany's job. I may show competence in a small part ultimately. The HVH office and control centre is at the airport. We meet all incoming non-military aircraft, document their mission purpose and & location, assist with provision of transportation, accommodations, translators, food rations and water. As well, we provide a gateway for medical supplies and medications,and give orientation packages documenting the locations and mandates of regional ngo's and the documents required by each group to record health statistics and epidemiological concerns. The HVH airport project is also responsible for all unaccompanied supplies carried in by aircraft, which is then transferred to a central depot. The staff also facilitates flights of volunteers out of Jacmel - on empty planes returning to their origin. So this is the most basic description of the work organization, but there is so much more - the relentless needs and resulting coordination- that constitute most of the day. And night.

The vastness of this work should come as no surprise, when the creator of this coordination effort is considered, but it makes the shock of being cast into it no less jarring. Fortunately, a very competent team is already in place, and teaching me patiently. .
Blackberry is dying - not enough juice tonight - to be continued in daylight.
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Monday, February 15, 2010


So after another day starting at 6am and still going we are in and out of meeting using three phones at one time coordinating shipments of people medicine medical tools supplies staffing medical facilities delivering people servicing food needs connecting planes and trying to communicate with all the non government organizations we are making progress in servicing the people of haiti
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Friday, February 12, 2010

update Friday, February 12th

I was able to steal a few early morning hours away from the airport to catch up on emails.  It's not an easy thing to do.  I actually bought a blackberry just last week for that purpose.  I still can't keep up to all my message but now with the help of a volunteer secretary I'm trying my best.
So, this morning's meeting started with the organization Bumi Sehat.  I first met this organization at the hotel Hosanna where I picked up a pilot that had stayed overnight.  They are great people and come with a full team of logistics, water & sanitation along with health.  They are a global midwifery association that has started operations in jacmel.  They will be receiving a large 44  foot dome tent on Sunday and will set up a birthing center there.  They have Canadian representatives, along with their American counterparts.  Their goal is to establish a long term presence in the area.  I visited their new office in downtown Jacmel and the birthing center is located just behind. 
Together we went to the refugee camp Pinchinat (the one that Angelina visited on Wednesday) to meet with one of the local "leaders" Charlotte, the French and Venezuelan medical teams.  Unfortunately the Venezuelans were not in the camp, but we established a closer relationship with the French and the Bumi Sehat team.  They have already done health assessments in the camp, and have given their number to be used for "on call" deliveries.  Actually while we were visiting the French tent, there was a woman in labour.  They were able to take her to their home birth the baby there.
There is growing concern about prenatal care, pregnancies, and abortions in the area.  I may have mentioned earlier about young girls basically taking over the counter abortion pills purchased from the local pharmacies.  We've had two with massive hemorrhage because of this.  Haiti definately has a long way to come in terms of education.
So, after the refugee camp it was back to the airport.  It was a busy day despite it being a day of mourning, just one month since the earthquake. The country had closed up all shops in a day of remembrance. There were several church services including one in Pinchinat while I was there.  i also saw a peaceful march of people in the city.
The airport however, did not stop.  Planes arriving on a regular basis as always.  I guess the issue with my staff here is that they never get a day off.  And we're not at the point that we can give people shifts.  I'd hope that at least Ruth and Fredo would have a few hours off to attend the services but I had to call them in early to deal with the planes.
I was able to meet the Disaster Response Coordinator for the American Red Cross.  He asked for my input of needs in the area. Both the Canadian and American Cross will have a long term presence here.
In the early afternoon I met with a German organization that will be starting Child Friendly Centers in the city.  they will start with two projects composed of teachers, psychologists and social workers to work with the kids.  I will relay this information to the Health Cluster.
I was happy this afternoon to finally complete our listing of health clinics and needs in the region.  We have about 75 sites registered. We have each site linked to another spreadsheet which gives an outline of the area, needs for specific doctors and schedule for teams.
I was able to get this printed just in time for our 4:30 health meeting.  We had many organiztions in attendance to prioritize health needs in the South East region.  I had the input of another great Canadian contact, Mr. Allen McNicoll who works out of the Eastern region of Fond Jonwell.  There was a new team present from the US and we helped them decide where their team could be most useful.
So now here I am at the hotel as the internet is still down at the guest house.  Jo and I were chatting about our new guest house that should be ready for us to move in on Sunday.  He's been busy all day buying supplies to get the house outfitted.
I feel that things are beginning to get organized, but Haiti is still a long way from the recovery phase.