Here are some of the common questions volunteers ask before they deploy:
What is the housing like?
Volunteers room in dorms on the hospital grounds. There are 5 room each with 4-6 sets of bunk beds. Each dorm room has a bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower. You will need to bring your own pillow, a set of sheets and blanket. The A/C can be very cold in the rooms. A mosquito net is advised.
Will food and water be provided?
Boxed breakfast and lunch are provided each day. If you have dietary restrictions, the volunteer coordinators will do their best to accommodate you. Dinner is on your own. Volunteers can go to the restaurant at the United Nations or order pizza from a local restaurant. There are water coolers in the dorms and the office. You will need to bring a water bottle. Should also bring snacks such as granola bars or trail mix to hold you over during long shifts.
Can I use my mobile phone there?
You will have to check with your mobile service provider to see if they provide service in Haiti. The hospital does have a phone that makes direct local calls to Miami area codes and you can receive calls on that phone from anywhere in the United States just like a domestic call. You will receive that phone number upon your arrival at Bernard Mevs Hospital.
Is there internet access?
Yes, the entire hospital campus is wired, though reception and be spotty and the signal is weaker in some parts of the campus than others.
Do I need to exchange money?
It is unlikely that you will need Haitian Goudes while you are there. Dollars are accepted at the United Nations where you will likely eat and by vendors near the hospital.
Where can I get more money if I need it?
You are unlikely to need a lot of money while you are on deployment; however if you need extra cash, there is a bank and an ATM at the UN that dispenses cash in dollars. You will need to bring a debit card and your passport to withdraw money from bank.
How will I get to the hospital when I arrive?
Project Medishare will arrange for a driver to pick up volunteers and drive them to the hospital.
Can I leave the hospital?
Not without a guide. The needs in the hospital are great and there will not be much downtime to explore Port-Au-Prince during your week of deployment. The volunteers coordinators can arrange a driving tour of Port-Au-Prince where you will see landmarks and some of the lingering effects of the earthquake.
Project Medishare is also responsible for your safety and discourages volunteers from travelling Port-Au-Prince alone. If you need to leave the hospital grounds, you will need to sign a liability waiver.
Should I/can I bring medical supplies with me?
Absolutely! The hospital is always in need of extra supplies. In your registration packet from Project Medishare you will receive a list of supplies that are currently needed.
What should I pack?
Your Project Medishare packet will provide you will a full list of recommended items to bring. Some things to consider are: flashlight, mosquito repellent, bedding, snacks, all the clothes you plan to wear (there is no laundry), mosquito net, hygiene products.
What is the schedule like?
On your first day at Bernard Mevs Hospital, you will immediately proceed into an orientation when you arrive. You will receive an overview of the facilities and your work schedule. To get a sense of what the day to day work is like view our video section.
Who tends to volunteer?
Healthcare providers of many stripes are needed. You may find on your deployment attendings residents, nurses, PAs and technicians.
How will I be able to communicate with staff and patients?
The hospital staffs Creole/French/English interpreters. While knowing a little bit of French or Creole would help, it is not a requirement for volunteering. If you would like to learn a few words of Creole before deploying, BYKI offers its Creole mobile app and online course for $7.99 to aid in Haiti relief work. https://www.byki.com/mobile/. There is also a lesson with 62 first responder medical questions. Another good free app is Medibabble, a professional-grade medical translation tool for history-taking and examination.
What are the patient care conditions in the hospital?
Since the earthquake, the hospital has developed from a tent hospital to a brick and mortar facility and functions as a regular trauma hospital. And while the conditions will be significantly more dire than what you may be used to at your home institution, the hospital is well resourced for its Haitian context.
Where can I find current information and news on Haiti in English?
Can I take pictures?
The hospital discourages picture taking without the expressed consent of the patient. Remember to respect the privacy of your patients and express the same sensitivity that you would with patients at your home institution.
If I have further questions, who can I contact?
If you have more specific questions about your deployment you should contact Project Medishare, you can find the most up-to-date contact information in the registration confirmation email that you will received from Project Medishare once you schedule your deployment.