Category Archives: Health

One Voice for Women

Today, on the second anniversary of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, I am partnering with BirthSwell and Circle of Health International to support maternal health services and improve birth outcomes in Haiti.

This is the sound of one voice
One spirit, one voice
The sound of one who makes a choice
This is the sound of one voice

Midwife Karen Feltham is a Clinical Instructor of Nursing at Binghamton University, and a volunteer with Circle of Health International, an organization working with women and their communities in times of crisis and disaster to ensure access to quality reproductive, maternal and newborn care. She visited Haiti shortly after the massive earthquake two years ago to help provide maternity care to women in around Fond Parisien, Haiti (30 miles east of Port-au-Prince), and is volunteering her time and expertise for a return trip this month.

This is the sound of voices two
The sound of me singing with you
Helping each other to make it through
This is the sound of voices two

The Fond Parisien birth center is staffed by two Haitian midwives and serves more than 2,000 women a year. The midwives provide high quality care and effectively manage routine births, but outcomes for mothers and babies could be improved with additional training and support. Birth Centers like the one at Fond Parisian provide a model of care for other areas in Haiti and around the world, where maternal mortality is at the highest rate in the Western Hemisphere, with 630 deaths per 100,000 live births (compared to 11 deaths per 100,000 births in the US).

This is the sound of voices three
Singing together in harmony
Surrendering to the mystery
This is the sound of voices three

The midwives at the clinic provide high quality care for the women they serve, however outcomes for both mothers and their babies could be improved with additional training and support. During Karen’s visit, she will provide peer-to-peer support to the two local midwives, and will work toward three specific goals:

  1. Review existing protocols for managing emergencies and deciding when to transfer to the local hospital. Provide clinical support and skill-building where it could improve outcomes for Haitian women and their babies. Karen says, “The midwives have good skills, but they don’t have an emergency plan. If you take some simple steps – like having all of your equipment in the same place every time, and deciding beforehand who is responsible for what in an emergency, it can make all the difference.”
  2. Run emergency drills using improved protocol for complications most likely to be seen at the clinic, including shoulder dystocia and postpartum hemorrhage.
  3. Improve monitoring processes so that the clinic can evaluate their existing protocols and make improvements based on evidence, not just anecdotal understanding.

This is the sound of all of us
Singing with love and the will to trust
Leave the rest behind it will turn to dust
This is the sound of all of us

Karen is donating her time, but needs transportation to Haiti (about $800 in airfare and local travel) and room and board on the compound where the birth center is located (about $300). The wonderful ladies of  BirthSwell are collaborating with COHI on a grassroots fundraising campaign to support Karen’s travel expenses, and I’ve signed on as a sponsor to help spread the word. While larger donations are of course welcome, the goal of the campaign is to bring in many many small donations, which will add up to help us reach our goal and get Karen to Haiti.

We need your help!

  • Contribute online: Starting with a donation of $10, you can help send Karen to Haiti! Generous items (handmade jewelry, works of art, and more) have also been donated as perks for donors offering $20, $35, $50 and $100 gifts.
  • Share the cause through via Facebook and connect with COHI’s page.
  • Promote the fundraiser via Twitter, using the hashtag #GetKarenThere!

This is the sound of one voice
One people, one voice
A song for every one of us
This is the sound of one voice
This is the sound of one voice*

*The lyrics are “One Voice” by the Wailin’ Jennys. They’re not affiliated with the event at all, I just really love this song and thought it fit beautifully.

Food and Love

When I was about three, I landed in the hospital with an asthma attack. After doctors’ visits and traditional pharmaceuticals, my parents branched out and began investigating homeopathy and other alternatives. At some point, someone ran a cytotoxic screening1 and came up with a long list of allergies, and my parents set to work eliminatingContinue Reading