Haiti: MSF reopens burn care hospital in Port-au-Prince

For several months, the hospital served as a COVID-19 treatment center

Medical staff care for a burns patient at MSF's Drouillard hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in February 2020.
Johan Lolos/MSF
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Port-au-Prince, Haiti, September 15, 2020—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has resumed admissions at its burn care hospital in the Drouillard area of Port-au-Prince after transforming it into a COVID-19 treatment center from mid-May to early August.

Since August 27, more than 30 burns patients have been screened at the hospital, of which 10 have been admitted. "The kinds of burns we see are all too common in Haiti," said Torianne Mason, coordinator of MSF's Drouillard Hospital. "Many of our patients come from urban areas where precarious living conditions increase the risk of domestic accidents."

MSF's Drouillard hospital is the only specialized hospital for burns in Haiti. When it served as a COVID-19 treatment center, an MSF mobile team supported other medical facilities in Port-au-Prince to care for burns patients.

After a burn, a person must come to the hospital as soon as possible and not apply any products to the wounds. Upon arrival at the hospital, the patient is cared for by a team of surgeons, doctors, nurses, mental health workers, social workers and physiotherapists.  "Depending on the depth and extent of the burns, we may need to do skin grafts and perform regular dressings and other care until the wound heals," said Dr. Erneau Mondesir, the hospital's medical director.

After discharge, MSF continues to provide care for patients through outpatient consultations. Psychological and social support are often needed, as patients can find it difficult to accept themselves and adjust to life after a burn, Dr. Mondesir said.

During the nearly three months that the hospital served as a COVID-19 treatment center, 333 people received medical consultations, and 192 were admitted with severe symptoms. After a peak in admissions in May, the number of patients hospitalized at the COVID-19 center stabilized and declined in July.

"As a medical and humanitarian organization, we adapted our activities, in consultation with the health authorities, to treat patients with severe cases of COVID-19 during a critical period," said Aline Serin, MSF head of mission. "The reduction in COVID-19 admissions and the increase in the capacity of other medical actors allowed us to refocus again on caring for patients with severe burns, which remains a very important medical need in Haiti."

As the COVID-19 epidemic continues in the country, MSF continues to apply infection prevention and control measures to protect staff and patients in its health care facilities. People with COVID-19 symptoms can continue to come to MSF's Martissant Emergency Center, where MSF medical teams can assess their condition and provide appropriate advice.