Give a man a fish, the old proverb says, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
That’s the idea behind Holy Name Medical Center’s work with the Hôpital Sacré Coeur in Milot, Haiti, the subject of a One on One with Steve Adubato program premiered at the Teaneck hospital Wednesday night.
Dr. Dave Butler, an OB/GYN in private practice and the chairman of the CRUDEM foundation, first visited the hospital in Milot in 1992 and has traveled back to Haiti multiple times a year since to bring medical supplies and treat patients there.
“Preventive medicine doesn’t exist there,” said Butler. “Part of our goal is to educate Haitian physicians.”
The 25-year-old local hospital he says, needs updated equipment and personnel training to cope with the health care challenges in the area.
And the issues in Milot became more urgent after the earthquake that ravaged Haiti in 2010. The hospital went from 63 beds to 400, and the impoverished town lacked the resources to care for the patients coming in with cholera and amputated limbs after the disaster.
After the earthquake, Holy Name helped raise funds for an oxygen-generating machine, a basic supply that American hospitals take for granted but that Sacré Coeur lacked. CEO Michael Marion made the trip to Haiti to oversee the machine’s installation.
“Once there,” he said, “it hooked me. You realize you can make a difference and a little bit goes a long way.”
Since the trip, he and Holy Name have been involved with CRUDEM in organizing physicians around the country, including a dozen of their own, to travel to the hospital and work with local doctors.
“We did not choose Haiti; Haiti chose us,” Maron told an audience Wednesday night, explaining the decision to work in Haiti out of so many international and domestic issues.
“The minor sacrifices we make for Haiti will only make us stronger and better caregivers here,” he added.
Maron approached Steve Adubato to cover the effort on his program in hopes that the publicity would attract help from others, and the result is a moving documentary featuring discussion with doctors who have visited as well as footage from their trips.
“It is out hope that people will not only get information, but choose to get involved,” Adubato said.
Contributions, which can be made at CRUDEM’s website, will go toward staffing the hospital, buying medication, and fueling the generators that power the hospital, which is located in a rural area without electricity.
Their hope is that the long-term effort will create more sustainable medical services in Milot, and a local hospital, with modern equipment and training, not dependent on outside charity.
Meanwhile, Holy Name doctors will continue to work with local physicians to supplement their training and create a more sustainable medical practice in Milot.
“If I can teach them, that’s going to be more valuable than me doing a thousand cases,” Butler said. “They’re the ones that need to be there.”