Raising the Level of Patient Care for an Entire Country

Houston Heals

Despite enormous challenges, Faculté des Sciences Infirmières de l’Université Episcopale d’Haïti (FSIL) continues to advance patient care in Haiti

The following is a summary of an interview with Dean Hilda Alcindor, BA, RN, FAAN, in December of 2019. KHOU 11 Emmy Award-winning news anchor, Mia Gradney interviewed MBF CEO Andy Mayo and Mrs. Alcindor at the MBF Houston Heals medical missions awareness event at Rice University.

As a Haitian, a nurse, and an educator, Dean Alcindor spoke with wisdom and authority as she discussed her vision that the graduates of FSIL are going to change patient care for the entire country. She opened her time by explaining that access to high-quality health care provided by well-educated nursing professionals is an ongoing problem in Haiti. Well trained, broadly educated, quality nurses are in short supply. The healthcare system is a tenuous subject in many aspects — it is mostly focused on city centers and providing adequate care in rural areas can be difficult. One result has been high infant and maternal mortality rates. “One in five children in Haiti die of preventable diseases,” Mrs. Alcindor stated as she expressed her hope that skilled nurses and the newly graduated will be the champions for these children.

Physicians and administrators at Hôpital St.Croix (Holy Cross Hospital) in Léogâne had a vision to improve medical care in Haiti by enhancing nursing education. Conceived as a part of expanding medical outreach in Léogâne, MBF in partnership with PC(USA) and the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, secured ASHA Grants and support to build the nursing school. The school has a self-governing board and includes representatives from the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti and nursing professors from throughout the U.S. Construction of the FSIL campus began in 2002 and in 2005, it opened its doors to the first class of 36 nursing students. In the 15 years since, FSIL has graduated 201 BSN students and has 100 more on campus today.

FSIL has been ranked as the top nursing school in the country by the Haiti Ministry of Health and serves as a model for other programs. Dean Alcindor noted that FSIL graduates are the best in the country. They are recognized for their excellence and sought after by facilities throughout Haiti. She spoke of, Danta Bien-Aimé, an inspirational graduate. Earning the highest score on the national board exam for nursing, Danta went on to be awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and currently attends Harvard University. She is just one of numerous FSIL graduates using their education to affect change and improve the quality of patient care in Haiti.

Another one of FSIL’s great successes is that only a few graduates have left the island allowing its students to continue transforming the healthcare system in Haiti. Most recently, the school launched a master’s in nursing science (MSN) program. The first such program in the country, it was designed to expand nursing education as a dual Family Nurse Practitioner and Midwifery graduate program. The inaugural class graduates this year. These advanced practice nurses and midwives will be well prepared to address the vast unmet primary care needs within Haiti.

We should be encouraged by and learn from the accomplishments and successes of FSIL. It provides a remarkable model of how to build a country from within by developing the capacity of its people. Undeterred by challenges, our Haitian colleagues press on determined to improve medical care and bring hope for their country.

While Haiti remains one of the very poorest countries in the world with an annual average family income of $450, many of the very brightest students in Haiti are unable to afford any amount of college tuition. Yet, FSIL has progressed steadily from 30% of its budget covered from within the country to today approaching 60%. There is every reason to believe this trend will continue toward full financial sustainability.

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Andy Mayo
CEO
MBF/Center for Global Nursing Development