Lending a Helping Hand in Haiti: INSTALL Members Support Build Health International

April 15, 2016

When Build Health International (BHI) needed a helping hand in Mirebalais Haiti, they turned to the expertise of INSTALL. The global non-profit builds healthcare facilities by blending North American design and system aspects with systems, materials, and building techniques appropriate to the resource-constrained environments where they operate.

Haiti is home to BHI’s Mirebalais Hospital which serves as the primary care option for nearly 185,000 residents in the surrounding community and sees upwards of 700 patients per day. While it first opened in 2013, the facility recently underwent a large expansion that saw the construction of a new national pathology and microbiology reference laboratory. That’s where the INSTALL story begins.

How INSTALL Helped

INSTALL, the International Standard and Training Alliance, provides unparalleled training to floor covering installers across the United States. This level of expertise cannot be found anywhere else in North America, and for a country like Haiti, it is essential to bring in experts from organizations like INSTALL to help with vital public works projects. There is no room for error in places like Mirebalais.

When BHI asked for support with the new pathology and microbiology laboratory, INSTALL was more than willing to lend a helping hand by recruiting six trained installers who travelled to Haiti for a total of six days. There, they helped manage the flooring installation process and worked to install thousands of square feet of material. The installation team included:

  • David Young (INSTALL Local 2168, Boston, MA)
  • Steve Seda, Michael Mayshack, Princeton Mayshack and Glenn Baker (INSTALL Local 2287, New York, NY)
  • Megan Dant (INSTALL Local 68, St. Paul, MN)

Overcoming Obstacles

Overseeing a construction project in a third-world country, especially one that is still recovering from a large-scale natural disaster, involved overcoming several obstacles.

Getting the right product shipped to the construction site was the first challenge for project managers. As it takes roughly eight weeks to get items shipped to Haiti, communication on site and to the teams providing supplies needed to be impeccable.

With multiple moving parts, including language barriers, shipping logistics and a lack of product and installation knowledge there was a lot that could go wrong. The Mirebalais project also featured multiple projects happening intermittently, which can often lead to problems and miscommunication.

BHI reported that all teams collaborated well and overcame the primary obstacles quickly and easily. The result is a facility that is completely unique to the country and one that will help researchers create a healthier, happier population.

“When the INSTALL team members arrived in Haiti, they were taken aback by what was happening around them,” said Liz Cherchia, project engineer at Build Health International. “It started off a little slow as they had to search for and coordinate materials and tools they needed. But the team rallied, dug into the work and did an amazing job.”

Paying it Forward

Not only did INSTALL members help manage and complete the project, they passed their knowledge along to local workers. Build Health International contracts local craftsmen and workers to help build the local economy and leave a lasting positive impression on the community. While the flooring installation at Mirebalais required professionals to be brought in from the United States, the INSTALL team made time to train the local workers and pass along advanced technical skills they received through INSTALL training.

About Build Health International

Build Health International’s mission is to build facilities that make it possible for global health organizations, in partnership with the public sector, to deliver quality and accessible health care to those who need it most. The global non-profit works with organizations that provide free or substantially subsidized health care. Its priority is to serve the poorest among us, while working in close partnership with effective NGOs and the public sector.

Build Health International is always looking for volunteers to support its projects. For more information on the organization or on volunteering, visit http://www.buildhealthinternational.org