NPMA’s Fourth Visit to Haiti – Day Three

Wednesday, July 13th, by Jim Fredericks

Having accomplished our goals at the children’s hospital and orphanage, we wet out Wednesday morning to evaluate the results of previous team’s efforts at two other hospitals in Port Au Prince: Medishare Hospital and Grace Children’s Hospital. Discussions with the administrators of the facilities revealed that they were very pleased with the results and very appreciative of the work that previous NPMA delegations had performed.  Doctors have told us all visits that are work is making a difference and helping protect the health of the patients they serve.

Another NPMA visit to Haiti that’s come to a close. Those of us who hadn’t been part of an earlier delegation now understood what the veterans had told us – that the volunteerism would forever change us.  Those we served were very grateful – and we were equally as grateful for the opportunity to serve and support the Pest Management Pledge to Haiti.

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Fourth Visit to Haiti – Day Two

Tuesday, July 12th – by Jim Fredericks

Tuesday morning we loaded up the bus and headed out to St. Damien’s early, but we quickly learned that travel in Haiti is unpredictable. We slowly wound our way up and down the narrow, hilly roads, navigating around people, potholes and debris. We arrived without incident and set to work. The director of operations at the hospital, arranged for us to have a room that we converted into a makeshift workshop that we could use to store our equipment and measure, cut and assemble the screens. 

We quickly set to work dividing up the tasks among the members of the group…some repaired old screens…some measured windows for new screens…some sawed wood…assembled the frames or installed the finished products. A team even set out to install additional rat and fly bait stations and perform simple exclusion with hardware cloth, expanding foam, and caulk.  In fact, we worked so efficiently that we exhausted our lumber supplies by noon! 

Energized by our progress, the team decided to walk to the orphanage to perform the work there while two people went with the driver to find more lumber (not an easy task in Haiti).  Three hours later, the lumber arrived, just as the team from the orphanage was returning from their work. Again the screen assembly line went to work cutting and hammering and stapling. By 5:00 the group had again exhausted their materials, and started the cleanup process.
The results:

  • More than 90 window protected from disease carrying flies and mosquitoes in high impact areas like, delivery rooms, neonatal care mares emergency rooms and surgery areas.
  • 100 rat bait stations installed
  • Dozens of fly bait stations installed
  • Perimeter pest control performed around the hospital and orphanage (including exclusion services)
  • Three Boucard Pest Control technicians trained in construction and installation of permanent screens

We all felt proud of the differences our work was enabling.

 

 

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Fourth NPMA Visit to Haiti – Day One

Monday, July 11th
The group met in the lobby of the Miami Hilton at 6:30 AM. Once assembled, we assessed our equipment and divided up the pest control products and equipment into everyone’s luggage. We stuffed boxes of glueboards, bottles on residual insecticide, pails of rodent bait, cases of rat snap traps, saws, drills, and other pest management equipment into suitcases, backpacks, and bags of every shape and size. In addition to the tools and equipment we prepared a large roll of vinyl screening for the two hour trip to Port Au Prince. Fitting the equipment into our suitcases wasn’t nearly as challenging as cramming it all into the hotel shuttle for the quick trip to the airport. Luckily the driver was sympathetic and helped us jam it all onto the bus.

Once we arrived at the airport, we learned that there was a box embargo which prevented us from using a large plastic container that we had carefully packed at the hotel. Undeterred, we quickly divided up the contents of the boxes into bags and luggage so that each person’s bag tipped the scales at the maximum weight.  With our first hurdles behind us and significantly lighter loads, we breezed through security and grabbed a quick bite of breakfast before we boarded for Haiti.

We touched down on time at 11:00 in Port Au Prince, to begin our adventure. The customs and immigration areas were chaotic, but we managed to locate all of our luggage and navigate through with very few questions.  Things that we expected might arouse suspicion (like nail guns) were treated as commonplace by the Haitian officials that inspected our packages.

Once outside of the airport we quickly spotted Terry Boucard of Boucard’s Pest Control, who had arranged for a driver to pick us up.  We quickly loaded the bus, and sank into its cool air-conditioned comfort. Our cool, comfortable environment was a stark contrast to the reality that we experienced outside of the vehicle. Although the members of our group who had worked in Haiti on previous trips noted that a vast improvement had been made in the city since the last trip, the conditions were still terrible. Piles of rubble and trash lined the edges of the street and people were everywhere. Traffic swarmed with no apparent rules to the road. Many buildings were still in ruins and abandoned as a result of the earthquake, and tent cities still filled the parks.

We traveled slowly to the hotel to check in, have lunch and drop off our luggage before heading out to inspect the children’s hospital and orphanage where we would be working over the next two days.

We arrived at St. Damien’s Hospital and were greeted by Sister Judith, we had a short meeting to discuss what we would like to do and what our goals for the project were. Sister Judith remarked to us that the recent addition of rat control services that had been provided by Boucard’s Pest Control had resulted in a great reduction in rat populations with approximately 100 dead rats being removed from the grounds each day.  We observed that very few rooms had screens, and those that did had missing or damaged screens. Flies and mosquitoes were able to access the rooms through the missing or damaged areas. We devised a plan to repair the torn screens and consolidate them on the upper windows, then construct new permanent screens from lumber and vinyl to protect entire rooms from the disease carrying mosquitoes and flies. We agreed that we should focus our efforts on the areas where we would have the greatest impact: the maternity and delivery rooms, neonatal care, emergency rooms, surgery areas, isolation and radiology.

Our next stop was to inspect and assess a neighboring orphanage.  St Anne Orphanage cares for approximately 135 boys and girls ranging from 6-14 years old. The children slept in 17 converted steel shipping containers and spent their days at a nearby school and playing in the dusty, rocky courtyard that was surrounded by the shipping containers. We quickly determined that the best use of our time would be to install rodent and fly control bait stations around the outside perimeter of the facility. Rats were burrowing under the sleeping quarters and invading the kitchen and food storage areas of the orphanage.   More to follow on Day Two….

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Haiti 3 – Rob’s Reflections

This is my third trip to Haiti since May 2010 and as was the case in each of the last two trips, the airport is the most intimidating and somewhat overwhelming part of the entire trip. Once through customs you are immediately thrust into the reality of desperate people, as sometimes literally dozens of porters attempt to grab your bags and provide services in exchange for a tip.  While it is hard to comprehend why they would fight over the right to carry your bags, to them, it is the reality of whether or not they can feed themselves and their family that day or not.

After checking into the hotel and grabbing a bite to eat,  the NPMA delegation was off to Grace Hospital to evaluate and provide pest management services. Grace is a children’s hospital that specialized in TB. The hospital was literally destroyed during the earthquake and services where now being provided primarily in tents while they rebuilt the hospital.

 You would think that simple items like screens in windows to protect the kids from an epidemic of mosquitoes and flies would be standard in any new construction but in Haiti they are not included in the facilities; I assume, because of cost. The end result is almost heartbreaking. In any given room of the hospital flies, mosquitoes, mice and rats are common place. After an initial evaluation, the delegation provided much needed pest management services and over a two-day period installed screens on virtually every window at the hospital.

 Day two took the delegation to the University of Miami hospital where we were greeted by a large group of American doctors and staff who immediately embraced our efforts with great gratitude. One doctor said that if she makes it home without malaria or diphtheria it would be because of the efforts of the NPMA delegation. The group constructed and installed over 50 screens and provided pest management services for the next 48 hours.

 The last day a small group of the delegation revisited the Haiti community hospital which was the very first hospital visited back in July by the NPMA delegation. It made me laugh to watch Kevin Kordek get great enjoyment as he attempted to teach the Hospital kitchen staff how to set large rat traps without losing a finger in the process. The loud outcry of laugher from the ladies who he was teaching was one of the highlights of the trip.

Four days later, over 75 window screens installed and constructed and invaluable pest management services provided to three more hospitals, the very tired delegation departed for the airport and home. I’m confident in saying that all of us left knowing that the services that we provided and the helping hand giving during our stay may very well make the difference between life and death for a whole generation of Haitians.

 Rob Lederer, Executive Vice President – NPMA

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3rd Haiti Trip – Day 2

                                                                                    9/16/2010

Uniformed Haitian Men – each with a shotgun in hand – guarded the University of Miami’s Haitian Hospital where we spent day 2 of our journey. When the doctors approved our arrival they opened the large metal gates and we immediately recognized encouraging differences in the organization, sanitization, and cooperation (not to mention the higher population of patients) compared to the previous hospital.

We got to work and all 24 enthusiastic PMP’s split up into teams to address the key target pests – mice, mosquitoes, flies, ants, and cockroaches. Our combined expertise made for a productive day! Within the first 4 hours of our arrival we had extensive IPM tactics completed – treated the perimeter of the property extensively, dropped tablets into stagnant water to kill mosquito larvae, excluded the buildings with hardware cloth to seal off holes in the structures, installed rodent bait stations, fly bait stations, Rodent glue boards…and much more! Soon after laying the glue boards we had caught at least 4 mice…within an hour we had excited doctors and hospital staff seeking out our volunteers to show us the progress that we had already made.

Boucard Pest Control’s technician, Sonel – who will be carrying out the pest control needs at this hospital after we’re gone – began his training today as he rotated between the pest management teams. Sonel used to work at the Haitian airport in air traffic control before he came to work for Terry’s family after the earthquake. He was eager and attentive and spent a lot of his training time with Pierre, our only French speaking teammate from Canada.  Sonel told us that he was learning a lot about how to help protect this hospital from pests – his ability to learn quickly and his dedication made our hard work and efforts worthwhile!

Mosquitoes were abundant and obnoxious – after hearing about the several cases of Malaria that had taken place that week, we spent the rest of our day building and installing mosquito net screening for their windows. With limited resources – a combination of duct tape, PVC pipes, and screws we made the most effective mosquito proof screens possible. The installation process was slow – having to adjust to the inconsistent, and often unstable structures – we installed about 10 windows in the last few hours of our workday…but we found a groove and knew we were better prepared for our 3rd day.

Like any American hospital, emotions co-existed here today…we witnessed hardship in the weak, the sick, and the injured mixed with the excitement of new life, health, and gratitude. The difference between our American hospitals and this popular Haitian hospital is that the sick outweighed the healthy in large numbers and the doctors had limited space and resources – not to mention the abundance of pests that contribute to the spread of disease.

The University of Miami has developed an amazing hospital and medical program in Haiti – the volunteer doctors that contribute so many sleepless hours, love, care and hope to the desperate Haitian people that come through their gates was incredibly inspiring. We had the opportunity to meet many of them and heard remarkable stories about their experiences. So many of them expressed their gratitude and excitement for the mosquito netting screens and overall protection from pests – as they showed off their countless mosquito bites. We didn’t know it was possible but they made our trip and experiences even more rewarding!

After the long day we headed to the hotel, exhausted….smelling not so fresh…and ready for dinner.

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NPMA’s Third Trip to Haiti – Day One

Haiti Trip Day 1:                                                                                                                                   9/15/2010
This morning was somewhat a blur…Those of us that flew into Miami last night met in the lobby at our hotel to load up boxes of product and equipment while those that caught red eyes and early morning flights met at the airport. When we landed in Haiti we were bused to the customs warehouse and baggage claim.
We were then greeted by our host, Terry Boucard, whose family owns Boucard Pest Control…they are the only surviving pest control company in Haiti and now run an operation of over 100 employees with a variety of services including waste management.

The drive to our hotel was eye-opening…a culture shock to the many of us that had not seen the lifestyle/poor living conditions of a 3rd world country…as we watched the endless tent communities, and piles of once standing structures now turned to rubble that overwhelm their crowded, filthy streets.

The hotel we’re staying was once a 4 story beautiful resort location that was also a place where many of the privileged locals would come for drinks and live music. It’s located higher up on a mountain with a great view of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake took all but the employee living quarters for the resort, which is where we are staying…(ugh I just killed a bug on my computer screen…the windows don’t shut here and they don’t have screens. Thank goodness Justin sent me prepared with the thermacell mosquito repellant!)

Our first day in Haiti was spent at Grace Children’s Hospital that used to serve as the best Tuberculosis hospital in Haiti. The earthquake ruined their structures and left them without necessary resources…So many died during the earthquake when this hospital collapsed; now patients are treated in tents out in the courtyard. We found storage rooms of food unorganized and unsanitary with obvious signs of rodents, fly, ants, and mosquito activity – Our group of 24 split up into teams to address each of those concerns. The smell of stagnant water was unbearable, the operating room windows did not have any screens to protect them…as we fanned out to put our expertise to work we could see excited children through the windows curious and happy to know we were their to help protect them from further disease. We also had very curious looks by the Haitian community as we crossed the street between facilities. The hospital is actually in the process of rebuilding and is hoping to have several small structures completed and ready to move patients into soon, and we are building more mosquito netting screens for their windows to install before we leave. Our other task – to make our visit even more impactful – is to train some of the Boucard Pest Control Technicians in IPM tactics to prepare them for daily maintenance, control, and monitoring to be carried out 5 days a week. There is also no garbage or waste management to aid in keeping the property sanitary, so this facility will be receiving a dumpster.

By the time we got to the bus to head back to the hotel everyone was exhausted, covered in sweat, and wishing we could do more for these hospitals. We made a huge dent today and will be even more effective tomorrow, with half a day’s work under our belt and being somewhat acclimated to the heat and humidity!

Jen Marlow McCauley

Eden Advanced Pest Technologies; McCauley Services

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Developing the Industry’s Response Plan

In Haiti, you truly respect the scarcity of many resources, including water

A little sightseeing in Haiti

On our last night in Haiti, with disturbing images filling our heads, the group decided not to go out for dinner but instead to eat at the hotel and have a discussion on how to come up with a plan that would truly make a difference in the life of the Haitian people.

The old adage that opened our meeting was “How do you eat an elephant? ANSWER: One piece at a time” put our discussions into perspective. The group was focused on the goal of truly making a difference in the day to day lives of the Haitian people.  We did not want to offer a “band-aid approach” of support – but rather develop a sustainable plan for a better future. While there was some disagreement around the table on the best way to proceed, there was absolutely no debate on the conclusion that we must try and help the people of Haiti.

Two and one half hours later we came up with several conclusions: 1. The largest asset of Haiti is the Haitian people;

2. We need to devise a plan that will invest in the Haitian people and help educate them on the true health related issues of their pest problems so that any plan will be sustainable over time;

 3. We need to work directly with the pest management professionals that are still in business on the Island to address pest  issues; and

4. We should focus our efforts on hospitals and schools.

One of the delegates said it all when he reminded us of the parable that if you give the people a fish they would have enough to eat for dinner; however, if you teach them to fish they would have food for the rest of their lives. We decided we wanted to teach the Haitian people and help train the pest management professionals in Haiti “how to fish”.

We decided to develop a “Scope of Work Plan” to address pest concerns in hospitals and schools. That scope of work will include the following: grounds/landscape management; refuge management; exclusion (cockroaches, rodents, flies, mosquitoes); construction related issues (screens on windows, elimination of holes and cracks in the walls and doors); water management/drainage; food storage, bed netting; and aggressive educational outreach to administrators. This scope will be provided to pest management firms in Haiti and firms will be hired, through NPMA, to address priority hospitals/schools. A team of NPMA members will be asked to oversee the work and ensure that the actual work in the field meets the level of standards expected here in the United States. Additionally, teams of NPMA members will be assembled to travel to Haiti and provide education and training to the pest management professionals providing the service. Our goal is to leave behind a program that will be effective, survive the test of time and create a better, stronger pest management industry than we found when we first arrived. We decided to invest directly in the Haitian people, create jobs, and support our member companies in Haiti.  

Now the hard part. Our goal as an industry is to raise at least $250,000 that will be used to hire member companies in Haiti to provide the services outlined above.

The one thing we know is that the Haitian people deserve a better way of life and while small in scope, the members of the NPMA can make a huge difference and truly help save of the lives of people who do not have the resources to help themselves.

Please watch for more information in the coming weeks about our trip and perhaps more importantly, how you can help us in achieving our goal to help the people of Haiti “learn to fish.”  Our goal is lofty – but in reaching it, we will help tremendously in the protection of public health.

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