The Journey Begins
On April 25, 2021 a five member delegation from Philadelphia-based charity Blue Sky Surgical, Inc. – led by its President Dr. Anthony Coletta, a noted surgeon and former CEO and Chairman of Tandigm Health, and Blue Sky Vice President Dr. John Sauter, an anesthesiologist – arrived in Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s “second city”, for a three day reconnaissance trip to the New Hope Hospital in nearby Plaine Du Nord. They went there to see how Blue Sky could assist the hospital in caring for its desperately poor patient population.
The Blue Sky delegation was given a tour of the hospital by its founder, Dr. Eugene Maklin. Opened in October 2016 and built with funds provided by an American charity, the hospital proper is a gleaming white three-story building ringed by a reception hall, offices and warehouse located on a former sugar plantation. With a 120 member staff, including several student nurses, it offers a range of medical services that include OB/GYN, pediatric, preventive health and general surgery. Already a godsend to the community, the hospital is now building an imaging center and an expanded laboratory.
Dr. Coletta and his highly skilled surgical teams have been providing much needed medical services in Haiti for over 10 years, most recently at the Double Harvest Clinic outside of Port-au-Prince, the beleaguered capital of the poorest country in the western hemisphere. A typical Blue Sky mission consists of surgeons, anesthesiologists, physician assistants, nurse anesthetists, registered nurses, a biomed specialist and various support personnel.
The mission members work closely with Haitian physicians and other medical personnel. Dr. Coletta and his colleagues have long collaborated with Dr. Peter Pierrot, a highly regarded Haitian physician affiliated with Double Harvest who has proven indispensable to Blue Sky’s success.
Broadening the Mission
With the reconnaissance trip as a first step, Blue Sky has broadened its mission to include New Hope Hospital, looking for a way to help Dr. Maklin achieve his vision of building a first class health care facility that can provide a full range of high quality medical services for the Cap-Haitien community.
It is a sad fact that the Haitian government has long since failed its people, most notably its failure to provide basic health care for its citizens. As recounted in his 1985 book The Serpent and the Rainbow, a Haitian intellectual lamented to author Wade Davis that:
“ My country, my beautiful country, is run by fools. Watch them descend from the heights in their silver cars, hands clasped to teak steering wheels. Mon cher, they smile like satyrs that have deflowered a nation.”
By all accounts, that lament still holds true today.
A Story of Continued Support
With the July 7 assassination of President Jovenal Moise, Haiti is now beset by civil unrest so severe that the U.S. State Department has given the country a Level 4 designation, making that country a “no go” destination for American citizens.
Haiti’s misery has been exacerbated by the recent earthquake and a COVID surge that has overwhelmed its threadbare healthcare system. Due to its escalating infection rate and an abysmally low vaccination rate, Haiti is also subject to a Level 4 COVID-19 Travel Health Notice by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although the current conditions in Haiti have forced Blue Sky to temporarily suspend its in-country surgical missions, it will provide financial support through U.S. based NGOs for the Double Harvest Clinic, New Hope Hospital and others who minister to the healthcare needs of the Haitian people.
The intrepid men and women of the Blue Sky surgical teams, as well as other brave health care professionals from the United States and elsewhere, recognize that the dire conditions in Haiti mean that their services are needed now more than ever. In a country where prosperity is for the few and misery for the many, Blue Sky will continue its good work.
See our full gallery of our trip below.