tree on roof
A tree fell on the roof of Hopital Albert Schweitzer's COVID-19 Treatment Center, pictured here. (Photo courtesy: Hopital Albert Schweitzer)

By Sam Bojarski

Nine of Haiti’s more than 2,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases were being treated at the Hopital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) COVID-19 Treatment Center in the central town of Deschapelles, when Mother Nature reared its head. 

In the early morning hours of June 1, high winds caused a large tree to fall on the center, one of only a handful of COVID-19 treatment sites in central Haiti. One staff nurse who was injured in the incident was treated in the hospital and later released. HAS also reported that no patients were injured. 

As of June 2, Haiti’s Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP) had recorded 2,507 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 48 deaths due to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus. In addition to the nine confirmed COVID-19 cases being treated by HAS, the center was also treating four suspected cases as of the beginning of June.

“This is a huge blow as the team and staff at HAS worked so hard to remodel this building in record time to get it up and running to treat COVID-19 patients,” said Jean Marc DeMatteis, CEO of HAS, in a press release. “We will not be deterred from fulfilling our mission, however. As we cope with the challenge of COVID-19, this serves as a stark reminder that the arrival of the 2020 hurricane season may complicate response efforts all over Haiti,” he added. 

DeMatteis told the Haitian Times in an interview that HAS is currently in the process of preparing for hurricane season. 

“That includes tree trimming, assessing and reinforcing any vulnerabilities that we see, so that’s an annual process for us,” he said.

He also said that the dedicated COVID-19 building has the capacity to treat 40 patients, while HAS can scale up and treat 150 patients on its Deschapelles campus, if needed. 

Since Haiti recorded its first coronavirus case in mid-March, health care organizations have worked to increase capacity for treating COVID-19, in coordination with the government. Partners in Health (PIH) is one of the major health care providers in central Haiti. The organization currently operates COVID-19 treatment centers at the University Hospital in Mirebalais and in Hinche, with a total capacity of more than 30 beds. 


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Sam Bojarski

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America fellow. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and...