All systems go at Haiti’s Hospital Lumiere

Hospital Lumiere is located in southern Haiti, north of Cavallion, in the mountains at approximately 1500ft elevation. The hospital, run by missionary doctors and administrative personnel has been in operation since 1976. Having been considered one of the premier healthcare facilities in Haiti, during the 90s and 00s, many of the missionaries serving the hospital were rotated home or transferred and not replaced. Consequently the hospital fell into disrepair and was forwarded for closure in 2010.

However, in light of the infamous 2010 earthquake, the need for healthcare facilities became desperate and a number of organisations began sending medical teams to Lumiere. One of these organisations, the Apostolic Christian World Relief (ACWR) agreed to take over the administration from the Mission of Evangelical Baptists of Southern Haiti (MEBSH).

Today, Hospital Lumiere has been revitalised, now employing 148 people (nurses, technicians, radiologists, pharmacists and support staff) including seven full-time physicians and offering services in areas such as: paediatrics, internal medicine, obstetriques (OB/GYN) and general surgery. The now 120 bed facility serves an area of approximately 60,000 people. It has an outpatient clinic and emergency facility, a four room operating suite and supports family health, pre-natal care and healthcare for patients of HIV/AIDS and TB in the local community.

Supporting communications

Given Hospital Lumiere’s remote location (one hour away from the nearest major city, Cayes), communication is critical to the survival of the facility for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is vital for improving staff retention. The hospital relies on keeping talented physicians and medical professionals to provide high quality treatment to patients. As a lot of the specialist talent the hospital requires is sourced from more urban areas of Haiti or the USA, employees can go many months without communicating with their families.

In 2010, the hospital engaged with NSSLGlobal, global satellite communications service provider, as it needed new, more reliable high-speed broadband and mobile infrastructure to serve its communication and connectivity needs. Initially, NSSLGlobal provided a standard broadband plan providing 1MB/385k. After a trial period, the staff at Hospital Lumiere saw a noticeable improvement.

“It’s important for us to make sure employees do not feel isolated considering the hospital’s location. Providing reliable access to communications is a huge part of this as it enables employees to speak with their families and just feel connected to the outside world. However, being four miles away from the nearest electricity grid makes providing reliable communications extremely difficult. We needed a technology provider that could guarantee consistent levels of uptime and NSSLGlobal has certainly done this.”

Rick Aberle, Administrator, Hospital Lumiere

The second reason a resilient communications infrastructure is crucial is quite simply the practical day-to-day activities that must be fulfilled to run the hospital successfully. For example, particularly when dealing with specialist cases, the medical team will need to draw on expertise from other hospitals in Haiti or the USA. In order to do so, they need the facilities to share files such as X-rays, scans and relevant medical data with specialists at other hospitals for assessment. Having assessed a case, the team can either treat the patient themselves or make a decision on whether to bring in specialist help from other locations.

“NSSLGlobal’s infrastructure allows us to share digital images and documents with specialist consultants elsewhere. Given our location, we often see lots of cases that are uncommon and require very specialist consultation and treatment. Therefore, having access to an extensive pool of talent and resource from outside the hospital, as well as providing the facilities for our current staff to add to their own skills base, is crucial.”

Rick Aberle, Administrator, Hospital Lumiere

In the day-to-day running of the hospital, it is crucial that the systems are resilient and reliable in order to keep the hospital connected and reduce the time spent by technical personnel on attempting to fix the system.

“We had reached the point where our communications was failing at some level on a weekly basis. Since engaging with NSSLGlobal, the consistency of our communications and connectivity systems has been far higher. This has allowed us to focus on other areas of running the hospital rather than wasting valuable time fixing our technology systems. One of the areas NSSLGlobal has particularly excelled is in its customer support on the rare occasion we have experienced problems. The experience and responsive team at NSSLGlobal has helped us get up and running again in a matter of minutes.”

Rick Aberle, Administrator, Hospital Lumiere

A platform for growth

Hospita Lumiere has gone from the brink of closure to becoming a prospering hospital once more. Partly, this is due to investing in a far more reliable communications and connectivity infrastructure, provided by NSSLGlobal. This has allowed the hospital to maintain higher levels of staff morale and retention as well as improve its services by drawing on specialist expertise from facilities elsewhere in Haiti and in the USA.

In light of this success, the hospital has now been upgraded a Premium broadband package providing 4MB/1MB, which will support more advanced communications and provide a more reliable service when dealing with bandwidth-intensive processes such as streaming videos and larger digital files.

“The upgrade will add even more speed to the processes we currently carry out at Hospital Lumiere as well as make new ones possible. By adding better video streaming capabilities, we can allow the physicians at the hospital to have better access to online research and learning resources. This is something that will help us add to our level of specialist skills as well and act as an incentive for staff to stay with us.”

Rick Aberle, Administrator, Hospital Lumiere