Medical equipment replaced by Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg through routine upgrades began a journey to Haiti on Tuesday, and will be used to set up a new hospital in Fond-Parisien through Labor of Love out of Joplin.
Dr. Cheryl Fogarty, an OBGYN in Joplin, has traveled to Haiti as part of a mission team and, through a series of connections, Via Christi made the offer to donate hospital beds, mattresses, baby warmers and a baby scale, operating room lights, office furniture and more.
“We greatly hope that this benefits a wonderful cause,” said Michael Hayslip, public relations director at Via Christi. “There’s no reason these cannot be used for a great cause.”
Cheryl Fogarty’s husband, Rob Fogarty, was at Via Christi as the supplies were loaded and said the donations will make a big difference in care for an area with a high mortality rate for mothers and infants and very little medical technology.
Cheryl Fogarty took her first mission trip to Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake, and has made several trips since.
“When she went down with the medical mission team through Forest Park, she really saw a need to help in the maternity clinic there,” Rob Fogarty said. “There’s no other real options for health care in the region where they’re at. There’s no other options for the women anywhere in that area up in the mountains.”
Fogarty said maternal health care is not a right in Haiti the way it is in America, and that women with high-risk pregnancies or who are in need of cesareans must pay in advance at the hospitals in Port-au-Prince. He said families who can’t pay are not admitted.
“You’re just not going to be accepted at the hospital,” he said.
He said the need has increased since the earthquake, which devastated Port-au-Prince and prompted migration to outlying areas, including Fond-Parisien, which is a couple hours east of the capitol and on the Dominican Republic border.
The items donated by Via Christi will help as the medical facility is expanded, and the expansion will be accompanied by regularly scheduled medical mission trips once the hospital is done.
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“They already have a clinic there,” said Sarah Renn, Cheryl Fogarty’s office manager.
The hospital expansion will include a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and other facilities, which Via Christi’s donations will help furnish.
“They’re going to break ground on the hospital this year,” Rob Fogarty said.
He said the value of Via Christi’s gift is much greater than just the price of the items.
“In a way it’s priceless, because there’d be no other way to supply a clinic in Haiti other than having donations like this,” he said. “It’s a really great start because we were going to have to get beds from some other place.”
Rob Fogarty said supplies of all sorts are greatly valued in Haiti.
“So much here is taken for granted and just thrown away, but you can’t do that there,” Fogarty said.
Renn said she used to work at Via Christi and knew the hospital periodically had auctions for old medical equipment. She asked Pam Newcomer, executive assistant to president at Via Christi, what might be up for auction in light of the renovation of the hospital’s Women’s Center.
“They turned around and said they would donate everything.” Renn said. “We couldn’t believe it at first.”
Hayslip said those at the hospital are glad to be able to help and to live out the hospital’s mission by caring for others.
“Inspired by the Gospel and our Catholic tradition, we serve as a healing presence with special concern for our neighbors who are vulnerable” is the Via Christi mission statement.
“From our perspective, the important aspect is that we are able to help Dr. Fogarty,” Hayslip said, adding that caring for medical needs in Haiti exemplifies that special concern for vulnerable neighbors.