Hospital Albert Schweitzer (HAS), in rural Deschapelles, has been blessed to be supported by St. John’s Church for many years. Perhaps it was as many as 20 years ago that Roy Black, who was then the head of, I believe, the “Mission Committee,” asked me about HAS, and since then, HAS has had the joy of being supported by St. John’s.
After reading about Albert Schweitzer work in Africa, my mom and stepfather, Gwen and Larry Mellon, decided to devote the rest of their lives to creating a hospital in a place of need. On June 26, 1956, after having completed medical school and internship, on Larry Mellon’s 56 birthday, they opened the doors to a state-of-the-art, fully equipped hospital, serving a population of then about 200,000 people. And this will be HAS’s 65th birthday.
The Hospital was originally staffed with doctors and nurses from the US and Europe. As they began taking care of the people in the area, they soon learned that people were coming from afar, spending the night on benches, waiting for the hospital to open. They began to reach out into the area with Public Health clinics. The hospital continues to provide basic services of Internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, at-risk OB, and a malnutrition ward for young children. Their original aim to have the hospital staffed by Haitians is now a reality. HAS’s CEO, COO, all full-time doctors and nurses, and most of the support staff are Haitians. The hospital continues to be a shining light in this area of Haiti, even through this time of political unrest and the emergence of a COVID Variant, which happily so far affects mostly the larger town and cities.
Although the link between Hospital Albert Schweitzer and St John’s began with me, over the years, many parishioners have traveled to Deschapelles with me, strengthening [erspma; relationships while witnessing first-hand the work that continues to this day. Travelers include former Rector Jonathan Folts, Karen Kaestle, Jim Myslik, Peggy Tuttle, Kathleen Maher, Dan Taylor-Stypa, David Evangelisti, Terry Parkinson, and former member Roger LeCompte.
Hospital Albert Schweitzer depends on outside support to be able to continue to provide medical care in this rural area. During this time of political unrest and the emergence of a COVID Variant, they remain especially grateful for the financial and also prayerful support from St. John’s Church.
By Jenifer Grant