Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria and Social Doctrine

The two girls pictured to the right had surgery at OSF in Peoria several years ago. Both are 27 years old now and are in Haiti.

One girl is Jenny and the other is Heureuse.

Jenny teaches at a school for children that are deaf. Heureuse lives in a slum with her children aged two and four years.

I have written about both girls in the past.

I examined both of them last week in Haiti and both need heart surgery. OSF is refusing them care. Written communication several years ago from OSF’s lawyer, Doug Marshall, stated that OSF would no longer care for Haitian Hearts patients. Thus, Jenny and Heuruese will not receive the care they need and deserve from OSF. Their chances at long term survival are minimal.

We have buried a couple of young Haitian Hearts patients in the last couple of years and most likely will bury more.

When I talked with Bishop Daniel Jenky about Haitian Hearts several years ago, he was very afraid to support the Haitian kids and go against OSF. Simply put, I believe that Bishop Jenky was concerned about alienating the Peoria area business community and did not want to hurt his Diocesan Capital Campaign in any way. He did not want to embarrass OSF.

The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services did not seem important to Bishop Jenky or to OSF. The Directives state that collaboration amongst Catholic health care providers is very important for the good of the patient.

Neither the Catholic Diocese of Peoria or OSF offered the Haitian patients any alternative. Haitian kids would have to suffer more.

I was totally astounded by the actions of OSF and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and I still am in disbelief that their respect for children lives in the Haitian Hearts program seems to be nonexistent.

The Catholic Post is the paper of the Peoria Diocese. Bishop Jenky is the publisher. The September 23, 2007 issue has an article entitled: Educators Urged to Teach Social Doctrine.

A speaker named Jan Rosenhauer spoke to principals of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Peoria at King’s House. She made some very dramatic statements about the church’s social doctrine.

Some excerpts from the article:

“In her address, Rosenhauer described the roots and foundation of the church’s social doctrine, including Scripture and the teachings of popes.

“Among the key Scripture passages is the parable of the Last Judgment in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew. In that parable, Jesus says we will be judged based on how we responded to the poor, needy, and suffering in our midst.

“It’s clearly a profound message about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. There aren’t a lot of other places where Jesus is so explicit about how we are going to be judged.”

“The Eucharist commits us to the poor,” she said, quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“As we receive the Eucharist and become more and more connected to Christ, we become more and more conformed to Christ’s life and how He associated himself so closely with the poor in so many ways in his life,” said Rosenhauer.

“The first and most fundamental theme, said Rosenhauer, is the life and dignity of the human person.

“This idea of the dignity of the human person changes everything—it’s a whole different world view,” she said.

“When teaching social doctrine, Catholic educators need to connect the “tradition of action” with the “tradition of thought”, said Rosenhauer.

“Within the social doctrine’s “tradition of action” there are two kinds of good work: the works of charity or service, and the works of justice.

“Charity addresses immediate needs, but working for justice means striving to address the underlying causes that create the needs that charity addresses…”

Bishop Jenky, OSF, and the OSF legal team in Peoria need to read this article in the Catholic Post and put the “tradition of thought” regarding sick and dying Haitian kids into the “tradition of action”.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mauricio Arrives!

Many people have wondered about Mauricio.

Mauricio is a 10 month old baby boy from Port-au-Prince who weighs 14 pounds and suffers from a severe congenital heart disease.

He arrived in the United States on Saturday night and is scheduled for surgery this Friday.

Please keep him in your prayers.

Pharmacy Window in Soleil

Thursday, September 20, 2007


This is an eight day old baby from Soleil who is perfect. He may have a big head, but he is still perfect in my book.

His name is Bernardin.

His mother, who wears layers of cotton flannel shirts, is unable to give their address in Soleil. They live somewhere near a church. They also live somewhere near 200,000 other people in the slum of Soleil.

Tears run down mother’s face as she states that Bernardin’s father forced her to take medicine while she was pregnant to abort Bernardin. His father has another woman and did not want another baby to take care of in Soleil.

However, the home made Soleil abortion medicine didn’t work. Bernardin was born and is fine…except for a big head. He has hydrocephalus.

Bernardin most likely needs a shunt. His mother has no money, and more importantly, if Bernardin had a shunt placed, who will be responsible for following him? When shunts go bad in Haiti, the baby goes bad.

Bernardin needs to be adopted out of Soleil where he can receive proper medical care and follow up.

He survived an attempted chemical abortion. He lives in horrid Soleil with an abused penniless mother.

He is eight days old.

Will anyone out there give Bernardin a chance?

Don't Let This Baby Fool You

Don’t let this Soleil baby fool you.

He may appear unhappy, but a bath with decent water is everybody’s dream in Soleil.

As we all know most of Haiti’s trees have been cut down. The trees are turned into charcoal to provide a fuel source.

When the trees are gone, and most are gone in Haiti, the topsoil is thin and the rain water is not absorbed into the under ground aquifers. An aquifer is an underground water source that supplies water for wells and springs.

Haiti ranked last in the world in the International Water Poverty Index. That doesn’t sound good.

Greater than 60% of Haitians have no access to clean water. That number is probably higher in Cite Soleil where people have to run between bullets to obtain a gallon of water.

Water borne diseases kill many people in Soleil. Especially babies.

Don’t let this baby fool you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Haitians and Mannequins

Medical schools in the United States purchase expensive mannequins so medical students and resident physicians can examine them.

The mannequin is programmed so that the student or resident can hear different heart sounds and attempt to learn their significance.

One hundred years ago in the United States, rheumatic fever was a disease that destroyed many people’s lives because it destroyed their heart valves. Now rheumatic fever is almost gone due to our standard of living and the availability of antibiotics in our resource rich country.

However in Haiti, rheumatic fever is common place and destroys many young lives. Unfortunately, Haiti is a good “laboratory” to study rheumatic heart disease. Haiti doesn’t have mannequins with funny sounding hearts…it has real people with funny sounding hearts.

Erline, pictured above, is a patient of mine in Haiti. She is 39 years old and has multiple valves destroyed from rheumatic fever. She is in chronic congestive heart failure.

Erline is not a mannequin that can be folded up and put back in the closet after you listen to her abnormal heart. She is a human.

For example, Erline has a very loud systolic murmur over her right upper sternal border. The murmur originates from aortic valve which is calcified, stenotic, and destroyed. Also, her heart is very irregular and after a compensatory pause, her systolic murmur becomes louder. This gives even more evidence that her pathology lies in her aortic valve (and not in her mitral valve because of unequal pressure gradients).

Interestingly for all of us except Erline, she has a diastolic murmur down the left sternal border which means that her aortic valve is leaky and insufficient also. She has the “diastolic blow” of aortic insufficiency which is consistent with her blood pressure of 160/60.

What mannequin in the States could teach us so much?

Problem is, what do we tell Erline? How do we help her? Do we tell her that we give better exams and care to our mannequins than we do to most Haitians?

Erline has a lot more to teach us than just her heart exam. We just are not listening closely enough.

February 22, 2008--

Erline died at the end of 2007.


Malnourished in Soleil...Why?

Pediatric Clinic in Cite Soleil

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hope in Soleil

Babies and Bullets in Soleil

This baby is in the malnutrition clinic in Cite Soleil. He is doing well.

On December 29, 2006 many MINUSTAH bullets missed him as they were shot from the white tanks on the main road near his home in Soleil. His family's two room flat was riddled with bullets as MINUSTAH's tanks fired indiscrimately at the "bandits".

Mother and Baby in Soleil...They Sure Look Human

Twins in Soleil

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cite Soleil Baby


Heureuse came and visited today in Port-au-Prince. She brought her three year old daughter Nehemie with her. Nehemie’s father is dead.

Heureuse has a younger sister named Elsa. Elsa has allowed Heureuse, Nehemie, and Heureuse’s baby boy to move in with her in a slum in Port-au-Prince called Carrefour.

She normally doesn’t complain of anything, but today Heureuse broke down and cried and said that she cannot take care of her daughter and needs her adopted by a blan (foreigner). Heureuse has no money, of course, and doesn’t know where to turn.

Also, Heureuse had heart surgery at OSF in Peoria several years ago and needs repeat valve surgery. OSF is refusing her further care.

When Heureuse dies from medical negligence and poverty, that will leave Nehemie and her little brother buried in the Carrefour slum with Elsa.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Saint Jude and Father Jean-Juste

He lived for many years in exile as a street priest in Miami. Father Jean-Juste had fled Baby Doc’s henchmen to stay alive.

In the early 90’s after he returned to Haiti and was living underground, I briefly talked to Father. His hair was black then but his thoughts about Haiti were the same as they are today.

Over the years my wife and I became good friends with Father Jean-Juste as we attended mass at his parish—-St. Clare’s in Port-au-Prince. St. Clare’s is located on top of a hill looking out over a huge plain with the mountains in the distance.

Father Jean-Juste’s mass was a dynamic process. He worked hard during the mass. He needed to. Sweat broke out on his temples and forehead as he begged, pleaded, and invoked God’s good will for Haiti. He prayed with fervor. His homilies were broadcast on the radio for the entire country of Haiti to hear. Nothing was hidden from anyone.

During mass Father Jean-Juste pointed to the saint’s picture above the altar and beseeched Saint Jude Thaddeus in his baritone voice, begging the saint of desperate, forgotten, and lost causes to give Haiti some respite and some justice.

At the conclusion of a mass several years ago, Father brought a seven year old girl named Raphaella to the altar. Raphaella had been badly burned by a propane gas explosion that left her grossly scarred and disfigured from the flames. Her face, chest, and arm were involved. Raphaella sang a song in a quiet shy voice into the microphone held by Father as she pleaded for medical help from the poor parishioners.

We watched the faces of the people in the pews…they were calm and full of respect for their priest who has no fear in asking that just and deserving options should be offered to those who need it...even in Haiti.

When each mass was over, Father seemed emotionally and physically spent. But he was still relentless in his push for his people. Five to ten people would be waiting in the front pews after mass to ask Father for some kind of help. They needed "aid" to bury their relative who had been murdered in the slum or they needed some other type of help. He listened patiently, putting his ear close to them as they quietly spoke to him. This gesture offered them some privacy while they talked. It also showed his attention to detail and to the fact that "tout moun se moun".

Night and day he worked both upstream and downstream in Haiti’s river of injustice.

All this occurred while his feeding programs, set up close to the church, were feeding thousands of happy children each week. It was startling to walk to the feeding area down the path from the church and see the window that was smashed as Father was drug out of it during one of his arrests by the Haitian police several years ago. Glass was still on the ground and we had to wonder about the shots that rang out and the pandemonium that must have existed as three children in the neighborhood were hit by police bullets while father was being arrested.

After interacting with the kids in the feeding program and returning to church, Father’s fatigue was again evident as we climbed the narrow twisting metal steps from the area behind the altar to his little ante room in which he received people on the second floor of the church. I am sure many important discussions regarding the future of Haiti occurred in this small area right outside his tiny bedroom.

I always wondered where his security detail was. Of course, he had no security detail except a few elderly church ladies and some young men that helped him with St. Clare’s and the feeding program.

Father’s courage and honesty were obvious and contagious. So was his perseverance. But he always had to be careful what he said and where he went and how he documented everything. He took nothing for granted. He knew he was a marked man.

Finally, as the world knows, he was thrown in prison again in 2005 on trumped up charges. Would he have run for president of Haiti? Who knows. But the big guys were not going to wait to find out. Father needed to be in prison.

The United Nations and the Haitian National Police (HNP) guarded the prison. The church ladies brought him food. For some reason we worried less about Father in prison than in his little room at Saint Clare’s.

While incarcerated Father became ill. Most of the Haitian State and Church leaders stayed away from him. Cancer in his blood began to consume him. The Haitian State doctor said he was fine… but he wasn’t. The world and main stream media tends to forget about the sick Jean-Juste’s when they are hidden away in a deplorable jail in a dilapidated neighborhood in a country that doesn’t mean much to anyone...unless you are Haitian.

Eventually Father made it out of prison and received proper medical care.

Who can anyone really dispute what Father Jean-Juste does or says? Where is he wrong? He only wants the best for Haiti and its people. He should be in the Haitian picture as much as anyone. He should not be drug through sharp glass windows, thrown in prison, and given medical treatment not suitable for animals. The anxiety of his poor parishioners at Saint Clare’s was high because the only priest they really trusted was taken from them.

Recently Father returned to Haiti. The people of Saint Clare's are happy again. The HNP have shaken his hand and said they will protect him.

So what will happen? Will anyone listen to this priest? Will Haiti’s Catholic Church allow him to function as a priest and sweat again during his honest homilies? Will his opponents stop injuring and harassing him? Will his cancer give him many more years to plead to St. Jude for the good of all of Haiti?

Just because Father is back, the slum violence has calmed, and President Preval’s government seems to be somewhat functional, this doesn’t mean that the Haitian people are not starving. Babies are dying everyday of preventable illnesses. The slums and rural areas are miserable. The roads and other parts of the Haiti’s infrastructure have crumbled. The water is dirty. Men and women sit around the country unemployed but are more than willing to work, even back breaking work, if offered a just salary.

It would be wonderful if Haiti’s rich and powerful citizens at home and abroad, and the Bishops and Monsignors of the Catholic Church in Haiti and the Americas, would embrace Father Jean-Juste and what he espouses. Respect for the dignity of all Haitians needs to be given by the international community.

Simply put, would more Haitian babies live or die if Father and his passionate cry for justice were listened to and his fervent prayers to Saint Jude answered?

(To see an excellent account of Father Jean-Juste's return to Haiti see Bill Quigley’s article published on IJDH.)

(Picture of Father Jean-Juste by Joe Zelenka.)