This week, representatives from the AFYA Foundation made a site visit to Blythedale Children’s Hospital to assess various pieces of medical equipment the Hospital is donating for use in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Blythedale, which opened a new 56,000 square foot replacement inpatient facility last December, has a surplus of equipment that is no longer being used in the new building. Equipment, ranging from cribs to wheelchairs, will be matched with children with special needs in Haiti and adapted for their use.
"This is an exquisite opportunity to make a one-on-one match with the children who will receive this equipment,” said Danielle Butin, AFYA’s founder and executive director. "This donation enables us to be able to provide and build access for these children that otherwise would not exist.”
The children who will receive the wheelchairs and equipment live at Zanmi Beni, a new orphanage just outside of Port-Au-Prince for abandoned physically and developmentally disabled children. These children were living in the pediatric unit of the capital’s city’s General Hospital, which was badly damaged in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation in January 2010. The unique medical and developmental needs of the children of Zamni Beni were likely neglected during Haiti’s tumultuous rebuilding period.
"With such limited resources available in Haiti, children have been using equipment built for adults. This, unfortunately, is simply not conducive to healing,” said Blythedale Children’s Hospital Chief Operating Officer Maureen Desimone. The Hospital’s donation is right in line with Blythedale’s mission to improve the health and quality of life of children and fulfills an urgent need, she added.
"We are delighted that this equipment will see a second life and benefit so many children,” Desimone said. "Many of these items have been uniquely adapted to match the highly specific needs of a pediatric patient.”
Members of AFYA’s assessment team visited the Hospital, armed with photos of children with complex medical needs and their measurements. Once the team has determined exactly which items are needed, they will send a shipping container to Blythedale which will be filled and sent directly to Haiti.