Tenet Saves Lives in Haiti
Tenet Healthcare, a massive public company operating over 100 hospitals and outpatient facilities in 11 states, has shown it understands its mission of healthcare providers: to help the sick, the injured, the needy. When Covenant Children, Inc. went to Haiti in May, it was intended to be a scouting mission to determine if we could help that blasted country, either through our orphan initiatives or our music outreach programs. And of course we accomplished that. But while there, fortune led us to three children in urgent need of medical attention, attention that was simply unavailable in Haiti at any price.
We met Islove, a beautiful 10 year old girl, Marck, a newborn, and Adriano, a five month old baby boy. Each was in dire need of medical care: Islove had collapsed one day and, over the course of a few hours, became completely paralyzed with an undiagnosed disease; Marck was born with a congenital defect in his corneas and Adriano had a heart defect. Their outlook was grim. Islove's paralysis could eventually make her unable to breath, Marck, without corneal transplants would be permanently blind and Adriano's heart defect prevented normal growth (at five months, he weighed 7 pounds) and would lead inexorably to his death.
When Covenant Children, Inc. CEO Ardith Grandbouche met these children, she knew there was nothing she could do for them; indeed, nothing anyone in Haiti could do for them. So she borrowed a cell phone and called Karen Webb, Chief Medical Officer for a number of Tenet Healthcare Systems hospitals. Karen, after hearing Ardith's report said, simply, "We can take care of that." And she did, with near miraculous efficiency. First, Islove needed a diagnosis. Karen and Ardith arranged for Islove to be carried from the dirt floor of her corrugated metal shack to the facility where we were staying and which had a computer with a working video camera. From her end, Karen arranged for Doctor Gazala Hayat, a neurologist at St. Louis University School of Medicine to examine Islove via Skype! Her illness was diagnosed as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, sometimes treatable with gamma globulin, a very expensive medicine unavailable in Haiti. Learning of this, Miami Northshore Hospital, a Tenet facility and its medical staff arranged to purchase and ship the medicine to Islove in Haiti, Karen arranged with an emergency field hospital set up in Port au Prince to administer the drug, and Islove is on the road to recovery, undergoing physical therapy post hospitalization, all through the kindness, ingenuity and grace of Karen and the employees of Tenet.
But remember, we met two more needy children, Adriano and Marck. Karen contacted St. Christopher's Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and described Adriano's problem, a congenital malformation of his heart, to its CEO, Bernadette Mangan. It could be diagnosed in Haiti, but no hospital there has the ability to treat the condition. Bernadette echoed Karen's initial response Ardith, "We'll take care of that." Bernadette and Karen then enlisted Achintya Moulick, MD, a pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeon at St. Christopher's, to do the operation and Bernadette, on behalf of Tenet, agreed to provide the surgery, related and follow up care for free. Understand this is a gift of anywhere between $75,000 and $200,000 that means the difference between life and death for Adriano.
And Marck, the newborn with corneal defects? Through Karen (again), Dr. Sean Edelstein, Assistant Professor Cornea, External Disease, and Refractive Surgery at Saint Louis University School of Medicine will be performing the sight saving surgery on Marck at neighboring Cardinal Glennon Hospital. Dr. Edelstein and Cardinal Glennon agreed to provide the surgery, related and follow up care for free, a gift amounting to nearly $35,000-50,000 in cash and immeasurable for young Marck.
Tenet has provided all medical and follow-up care for these children, leaving only the cost of transportation, visas and the like to be paid by contributions to Covenant Children, Inc., an extraordinary act of kindness, generosity and social conscience on the part of Tenet and its incredible employees.
What's next? Tenet has indicated a willingness to undertake more of these humanitarian projects and Covenant Children, Inc. is investigating the mechanics of organizing a pipeline, not just from Haiti, but from all the areas Covenant Children, Inc. reaches, from Africa to New Orleans.
Baby Marck, the boy who was born blind, has had his first surgery at Cardinal Glennan Children's Hospital in St. Louis, and can now see. Sean Edelstein, M.D., Assistant Professor, Cornea, External Disease, and Refractive Surgery Department of Ophthalmology Saint Louis University School of Medicine performed the somewhat complicated surgery of transplanting a cornea and performing cataract surgery on Marck's right eye. He's now recuperating at home with this wonderful host family and in the next few weeks will have his second surgery. Imagine: blind from birth and suddenly the world is opened to you. It's an extraordinary gift to this young man.
We're grateful that your generous donations to Covenant Children, Inc. allowed us to make all the arrangements and to be an integral part of these life changing stories. Thanks to each of you and special thanks to the host families and to the physicians, hospitals and staffs that have donated so incredibly generously for the welfare of these children.