Dr. Ted Higgins has had a heart for Haiti since 1981. During his fourth year of general surgery residency at Yale, he and his wife, Kim, spent a three-month rotation at Hospital Albert Schweitzer in DesChapelles, Haiti. They were touched by the Haitian people, their culture, and their needs. They were inspired by Dr. Larimer and Gwen Mellon who devoted their lives to transformative work in healthcare, local economies, and access to water.
Through their church in Kansas City, Ted began annual trips to the Dominican Republic where teams provided healthcare to sugar cane cutters and their families in the bateys. Seeing surgical needs of all kinds, Ted began operating in a borrowed clinic in 1992, when the Good Samaritan Hospital was a dream under construction. It’s now a busy hospital with Dominican surgeons on staff; Ted’s recent trips have been to train them in vascular and general surgical techniques.
In 2010, Ted and Kim were introduced to surgery at Haitian Christian Mission. Throughout his annual week-long trips to Fonds-Parisien, Ted and his team operated on about 60 patients. He appreciated the excellent accommodations and support of HCM and saw the need for more surgical capacity. In 2015, the idea of expanding the surgical capabilities was discussed and the Higgins Brothers Surgicenter for Hope (HBSH) began to take shape.
Higgins Brothers Surgicenter for Hope
The Surgicenter is now complete and welcoming patients! A beautiful inauguration ceremony was held December 10, 2016. Partners from all over Haiti traveled to Fonds-Parisien to celebrate with us the completion of this wonderful gift. Minister of Health, Dr. Daphne Benoit-Delsoin came to visit the HCM campus at Fonds-Parisien to celebrate the inauguration and offered her support. We are so grateful for the generosity, love, and prayers that made this new addition to our mission possible.
Surgical space in Haiti is in high demand. Teams from Kansas City and Florida are prepared to travel to HCM and are eager to use the surgical facility so conveniently located one hour east of Port-au-Prince on the main road to the Dominican Republic.
Ted chose to name the surgical center in honor of his father, Edward and uncle, Paul. Both surgeon brothers were inspired by their father and grandfather to carry on a solid medical practice in Cortland, New York. Dr. Edward trained in ENT at Syracuse Upstate Medical Center under Dr. Gordon Hoople and Dr. Paul trained in General Surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Center under Dr. Alfred Blaylock. They served in World War II as physicians – Edward in Europe and Paul in the Pacific – and embraced the international work of medicine. They chose to bring their skills back home to the community where they grew up. In their shared 38-year practice, they were role models to medical students, physicians, and the wider community for their exemplary patient care and civic involvement.
What we do
The Higgins Brothers Surgicenter for Hope provides many opportunities to help the underserved people of Haiti. We presently take a surgical mission team quarterly to Haiti from Kansas City. While there can now operate with our Haitian team of surgeons and nurses handling patients that have been referred for surgical evaluation from all over the country. Many of these patients cannot afford payment of their surgery in Haitian hospitals. We do ask for donations for our services, but all patients needing surgery receive our care whether or not they can provide funds.
Besides helping our Haitian surgical staff with complex cases, we look forward to teams providing teaching opportunities for our 6 nurses handling perioperative care. This training is essential for improving the level of medical care we hope to deliver.
We have a team of nurse midwives that assist with over 700 deliveries a year at Haitian Christian Mission. Our Ob-Gyn surgeon performs C- sections and emergency procedures when indicated. Assisting with the teaching of our nurse midwives and with family planning is also a goal of our program.
Over the past several years we have developed a wonderful teaching relationship with the General Hospital in Port Aux Prince surgical staff. Seven surgeons from Kansas City operated at Higgins Brothers Surgicenter in 2017. Each surgeon was assigned a general surgical chief resident that operated across the OR table for the week. We were able to perform over 400 procedures on 324 patients in 2017. These included general, vascular, obstetrics, gynecology, urology, and podiatry. Follow-up is provided by our Haitian team and our quarterly mission visits.
We need to raise funds to train young talented Haitian students to become nurses, doctors, and medical technicians. A scholarship program has been started to provide funds for these students. The cost for medical school is roughly $5000 per year. These future medical providers will ensure that our facility and the quality of care will be sustainable.
Our relationship with the medical services provided at HCM has grown. Our emergency room/ trauma area is now a 24/ 7 facility with the ER physicians under our employment. They handle many cases that were previously referred to Port Aux Prince, allowing treatment to occur in a more rapid fashion, and in many cases negating the need for transport.
Our staff grew in 2018 to accommodate the surgical demand and 24/7 continuous coverage. The Surgicenter now has a Haitian staff of 25. This includes 2 surgeons, an OB/Gyn surgeon, 2 anesthesiologists, 2 emergency room physicians, 10 nurses, 2 nurse midwives, 2 custodians, 2 administrators and a medical director. Theodore (Kerby) Prophete was named CEO of the Surgicenter.
We had 6 surgeons from Kansas City, 6 anesthesia providers, 25 nurses and nursing student, and 12 nonmedical personel volunteer for a week. During that time we trained 4 chief residents from the General Hospital in Port Au Prince.
For the year, over 600 procedures were performed and 500 deliveries, including quadruplets born in August. Mother and children are all doing fine, and you can read more and see pictures here.
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Future Plans for HBSC
Providing medical care today for those in great need is the short-term goal. Providing training to future physicians to take care of the next generation of Haitians is the longer-term goal that we are providing.
We will need to eventually expand, adding clinic space as well as taking on the responsibilities of running the outpatient medical clinic and the HIV clinic responsibilities. Equipment provided by Hospital Corporation of America, (HCA), has been essential for our growth and development. Individual donations also have been extremely gratifying.
Our plans for the future include funding an annual medical staff for full time support of:
- A 3rd operating room to accommodate the demand.
- A large utility room for instrument cleaning and storage.
- A laboratory for hematology and pathology.
- A radiology suite to develop a program for basic evaluation.
- General surgeon, ob- gyn surgeon, anesthesiologist, medical director, ER physicians, and stipend for surgical residents.
- Perioperative nurses
- $50,000/year.........fuel for generator, shipping equipment, repairs and maintenance
- $100/day.............for surgical volunteers, includes room, board, transportation, and translators at HCM
Our fund raising is important to sustain the project, at an annual total of $250,000 for medical staff. You can support Higgins Brothers Surgicenter for Hope with an online donation today at our online donation portal.
We have a Founder's Club for sustained generous donors committed to our project. This requires a yearly contribution of $10,000 or more over 5 years. These funds will be used to augment the staff salaries so further expansion and upgrades can be done. Private conference will be arranged.
The Higgins Brothers Surgical Center for Hope appreciates any gift you can make. You can be a part of this!