Diaspora

Mobile clinic donated by Rockland-based health clinic heads to Haiti – The Journal News

NEW SQUARE – A mobile clinic donated by Refuah will soon head to Haiti so local medical providers can get needed help to people throughout the Caribbean nation.
The delivery of the 40-foot retrofitted Winnebago and its use in Haiti will be coordinated by Konbit Neg Lakay, a Spring Valley-based nonprofit that supports Rockland’s substantial Haitian population, while partnering with other nonprofits through Rockland County Haiti Relief.
“The Haitian community here in Rockland is part of the Refuah family,” said Alexandra Khorover, chief strategic officer and general counsel at Refuah Health Centers.
The federally qualified community health center operates two clinics in Spring Valley and one in South Fallsburg. In Rockland, Refuah serves a diverse population in and around Ramapo, including growing Orthodox Jewish and Latino communities.
County data show that more than 15,000 people of Haitian descent live in Rockland, but locals estimate the local Haitian-American population tops 30,000. Konbit has been helping recent immigrants from Haiti and Latin America who are arriving via Mexico.
Refuah and Konbit began talking about the mobile clinic donation in the aftermath of August’s devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which occurred as the nation reeled from a presidential assassination and as the COVID pandemic raged.
A U.S. State Department Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory remains in place for Haiti, citing a high level of COVID, kidnappings, crime and civil unrest.
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“The most useful thing we could do is donate a mobile medical van,” Khorover said. The RV contains a reception area and full exam room.  “The doctor can do just about anything they can do in a regular office.”
Refuah runs a small fleet of mobile clinics, Khorover said, based out of the South Fallsburg location. The health agency purchased three new vans this summer, so the one headed to Haiti wasn’t being used as frequently, Khorover said. 
“It’s still in perfect working condition,” Khorover said. “It made sense to get it somewhere it could be the most use.”
Refuah also is providing $15,000 to pay for shipment to Haiti of the van, now being stored in South Fallsburg. The community health center will also include some general medical supplies in the mobile van.
Konbit is asking medical providers and suppliers, many that are based in Rockland, for additional items, said Renold Julien, executive director of the nonprofit community center Konbit Neg Lakay. “Since we have that big truck, it would be great to fill it with all kinds of equipment and supplies,” Julien said.
Konbit has an office and medical providers available in Haiti.
Rockland County Haiti Relief, an umbrella nonprofit, has arranged delivery of donated items collected in Rockland to Haiti, and has coordinated healthcare providers’ trips to the country.
“Our slogan is, ‘we don’t send stuff to Haiti, we bring stuff to Haiti,'” said Julien, who is president of Rockland County Haiti Relief. That way, there’s supervision to ensure resources go to where they are intended.
Upheaval in Haiti continues. Early Tuesday, reports out of Cap-Haitien stated that more than 50 people were killed and scores injured after a gas truck exploded. Amid a nationwide fuel shortage, some reports said the death toll was so high because many were trying to collect spilled gas from the overturned truck.
“Things like that underscore the dire need,” Khorover said.
Nancy Cutler writes about People & Policy. Click here for her latest stories. Follow her on Twitter at @nancyrockland

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