World Physical Therapy Day
Before the 2010 earthquake Physical Therapy was not widely known or available across the island of Haiti. Given the nature of the injuries there were hundreds of PT's flying down to Haiti throughout 2010 to provide rehabilitation for those injured in the earthquake.
It was a catalyst to introduce Haitians to the profession of Physical Therapy. Within a few years a university was opened in Port au Prince and a college just outside of Cap Haitian.
That year, 2010, we had a missionary physical therapist Julie, working at Bethesda and began to introduce our staff and patients to the benefits of PT.
During her time she saw stroke survivors, who would normally have been kept in bed, learn to walk again, children with special needs, who would have normally been kept hidden away, learn how to sit up and move and interact in the world around them and earthquake survivors, who had lost everything, regain movement, function and have their quality of life improved through coming to physical therapy.
Julie left at the end of 2010 but God has big plans for the future of PT at Bethesda.
God called Julie back to Haiti in 2016 with her family. At that time Dr Rodney shared his vision - to have a permanent Physical Therapy department, run by Haitian's for Haitian's. The PT department started in a small room with no running water and temperamental electricity, there was limited space and resources and equipment. Work began on a new building in summer 2017, God provided the funds needed and on January 2, 2018 the new PT building was opened! The very next day Bethesda received their first PT team from the SouthWest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. The team brought in supplies and equipment and spent the week treating patients and providing education sessions for Haitian PT's. Over the next two years SBU would continue to send teams, resources and equipment as well as providing professional support to the team on the ground in Haiti when needed.
In February 2018, Altidor, joined Julie in working in the PT department. Word spread and more and more patients were coming to Bethesda for PT, often passing other clinics and hospital's along the way. They began a Monday morning exercise class for stroke survivors, Tuesdays and Thursdays were when families brought their children with special needs for therapy while moms, grannies and caregivers sat together able to share experiences and support one another. Within 16 months there were just too many patients coming for Altidor and Julie to treat and the best bit almost everyone was getting better!
In May 2019 Echebert joined the team, and still more and more patients came through times of political unrest, fuel shortages, violence and covid. No matter what was going on in Haiti patients continued to come to Bethesda for Physical Therapy. Julie left in 2021 and Madame Junel joined the team. In just 5 short years Dr Rodneys goal had been achieved - to have a fully run Haitian PT department run by Haitians - for Haitians. God has been so good.
Where are we today?
Today the 'new' building is too small and the Haitian team is working like crazy everyday!
Since January 2017 there have been more than 12,000 patients visits to Bethesda for Physical Therapy. In the first seven months of 2023 our Haitian staff have seen more patients than they did for any other full year before now! Here is a little glimpse of what that looks like on a day to day basis for our patients who come.
▶Stroke survivors are being supported and their quality of life is being improved through exercise.
▶Children with special needs are learning how to develop - some are learning to roll over, some sit up and some are learning to walk and their families are being supported as they come for therapy.
▶People who have been in road accidents are getting taught how to resuse their arms and legs after having broken bones, rods, frames and screws in them!
▶Older people with hip and knee pain are being educated on how to manage their pain and given exercise to help them keep moving.
▶People with chronic back pain are getting better!
Instead of staying home and staying in bed - which was the mindset before PT came to Haiti, thousands and thousands of patients have attended PT at Bethesda and had their quality of life dramatically improved! None of this would have been possible with God leading and guiding every step of the way.
We are excited about what He has for the future of Physical Therapy at Bethesda! 😀
⭐️⭐️If you are a Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist or Speech Therapist and would like to be involved in the future of what therapy looks like at Bethesda then please send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love you to get involved. ⭐️⭐️