Haiti: Providing tender love and care

"As we are nearing the final closure date of the hospital, we, the management team, are trying to make sure we have everything organized and planned for the final days..."

As we are nearing the final closure date of CRUO we, the management team, are trying to make sure we have everything organized and planned for the final days. We have been playing radio spots announcing our closure date, we have gradually reduced staff and beds in each department, we have locked empty rooms and prepared items for donation and even have a large sign saying  “we are closed, thanks for the collaboration” printed to mount on the gate the morning of the closure. However, one thing I did not take into consideration before my arrival was the possibility of abandoned babies. What are we going to do if we have 1 or 2 abandoned infants on the date of our closure? We have a plan for mothers and neonates who are not yet done their treatment, they will be transferred to other facilities but those facilities would not accept an unaccompanied baby. 
When it was first brought up in a management meeting I half-jokingly/half-seriously said I would just bring one home! That option was quickly rejected, for many reasons. I discovered that sadly, this has been a recurrence at CRUO. There was even a case of a little boy who came to the hospital in his mother’s womb and left on his own two legs. Yes, he spent his first 11 months at CRUO before he was placed within in a new home. He was the most extreme case, but it was not uncommon for infants to spend their first few months at CRUO before being placed within child services. An infant could be abandoned for many reasons; parents unable to afford a child, a mother with a history of mental illness or most often the mother has died and no other family member has been found.


Emily wears a very young baby in a sling on her chest
Emily provides some 'kangaroo care' to a tiny baby
Unfortunately, we are only four weeks away from the closure date and this is a current reality for two neonates admitted. Both infants were born premature and have survived the first few weeks of life. Both infants fit into the above reasons for abandonment. In the absence of parents the international staff have stepped in to provide the much needed tender, love and care that infants need to thrive. I have called it our own therapy time, our time to take a few moments to disconnect and just snuggle a baby. Our epidemiologist has created a beautiful bond with one infant and spends hours a day with the infant strapped to her chest. The infant snuggles right up and grabs on tight to the t-shirt knowing that warmth and comfort is on its way.
In the meantime the mental health team is working tirelessly to reunite the infants with a family member. Some success has been made in finding an uncle. We all hope that both infants will be reunited by the time CRUO closes its doors. Until then, we are all very happy to step in for snuggle time.