Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais

Partners In Health

Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais is rural Haiti’s first teaching hospital. Courtesy Partners In Health.

The opening of the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais -- rural Haiti’s first teaching hospital -- is a powerful sign of hope in a country still recovering from the devastation of the massive 2010 earthquake.

The 205,000-square foot, 300-bed facility will fill a huge void, locally and nationally, for people who previously had limited access to quality healthcare.

It will provide primary care services to about 185,000 people in Mirebalais and two nearby communities.

But patients from a much wider area—all of central Haiti and areas in and around Port-au-Prince—also will be able to receive secondary and tertiary care. And at a time when Haiti desperately needs skilled professionals, the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais—HUM for short—will provide high-quality education for the next generation of Haitian nurses, medical students, and resident physicians.

HUM serves as an example of how public-private collaboration can help rebuild the health sector. -- Dr. David Walton, Director, National Mirebalais Teaching Hospital Project, PIH.

The genesis of Mirebalais

After the earthquake, with critical medical infrastructure in ruins, Haiti’s Ministry of Health asked Partners In Health (PIH), a US-based, non-profit healthcare organization with a long history in Haiti, to dramatically scale-up its existing plans for a small community hospital it had planned to build in Mirebalais, just 60 kilometers north of the capital.

HP had already been in discussions with PIH about potential ways they could work together. “The urgency of the situation escalated plans and we confirmed our commitment to become one of the primary technology partners for the hospital,” says Paul Ellingstad, Partnership and Program Development Director, HP Sustainability and Social Innovation.

“PIH was a natural strategic partner for HP,” he says. “There are many similarities between our principles. HP believes in the role of technology in democratizing people’s lives and helping them to live and work better. PIH’s vision is health equity for all and a belief that modern technology should be made available to support healthcare delivery to the poorest of the poor. We were a natural fit.”

Unique challenges

The hospital provided unique challenges with severe constraints -- including critical factors such as the resilience of the electrical grid. With this in mind, HP focused its efforts on providing easy-to-use, resilient, fail-proof technology that can operate with minimal training, in the most challenging of environments.

HP provided IT infrastructure to support all of the applications needed to run a modern hospital of this scale as well as critical communications systems. HUM was outfitted with a high-capacity server rack that provides connectivity across the campus via thin clients, wireless access points, and VoIP phones. HP workstations are situated throughout the hospital, equipped with 27-inch monitors to enable teaching opportunities in the operating rooms and optimum radiology image viewing. HP also provided for HUM’s comprehensive printing needs.

HP technology is a vital enabler throughout the hospital. The electronic medical record system housed on HP servers allows hospital staff to quickly refer to and update patient records, providing Haitian clinicians with the tools they need to diagnose and treat patients. The IT systems enable staff to access medical information such as the PACS radiology system and a pharmacy and inventory management system. HP systems also provided access to standard office systems such as email, Word, Excel, access to the internet, file storage and more.

Continuity of operations is absolutely vital for any hospital. HP’s solution was designed to provide a high degree of redundancy including dual redundant networks, dual redundant uninterruptable power systems, a virtualized server environment with hot standby services and more.

HP employees donated time and expertise

In addition to providing technology and funding, HP employees around the world contributed their time and expertise to the design, build-out, and installation of the IT systems at HUM.

Alan Nemeth, HP Fellow Emeritus, and Les Fox, HP Distinguished Technologist, both donated their time to oversee the project – and continued to volunteer after their retirements in 2012. Throughout the project, they brought in experts from other areas of HP including HP Technology Services, HP Networking, HP Enterprise Services and Manufacturing.

They ensured that HP had a deep understanding of PIH’s goals and needs for the hospital. “It’s not about computer technology – it’s about how that technology gets applied to societal problems and we were determined to ensure our technology made a real impact,” says Alan.

For example, PIH is committed to sustainability -- and a healthcare system dependent on flying medical students from Haiti to the US, or physicians from other countries to Haiti, is not a sustainable model. After the earthquake destroyed medical and nursing schools in Port-au-Prince, it was imperative that HUM be a world-class teaching hospital with the capacity to train large numbers of Haitian clinicians and ensure that medical expertise can be developed—and maintained—in rural Haiti. HP technology complemented the new hospital’s teaching experience with videoconferencing capabilities that enable staff to interact with physicians anywhere in the world to help diagnose and treat patients. The systems provide for high-quality, hands-on medical training.

“I can tell you with confidence that PIH certainly couldn’t have found a better partner than HP to bring us to a whole other level of technology,” says Dr. David Walton, Director, National Mirebalais Teaching Hospital Project, PIH. “Thanks to the PIH-HP partnership, HUM will improve clinical care and technical capacity, allow for a wider array of diagnostics and therapeutics, and serve as an example of how public-private collaboration can help rebuild the health sector.”

A showcase for what is possible

“We are immensely proud to have played an important role in the development of Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais—it will be a profound benefit for the people of Haiti,” says Chris Librie, Director, Environmental and Health Initiatives, HP Sustainability & Social Innovation. “HP is in a unique position to solve social challenges by uniting the power of its people and technology.”

“We see Mirebalais as a showcase for what is possible – even when you’re operating within severe constraints,” he says. “You can still build a state-of-the-art hospital that delivers leading edge health services. Technology played a vital role in how PIH will be able to deliver on their vision. It stands as a wonderful proof point for how these types of hospitals and services can be offered in other countries dealing with similar situations.”