Retired pro hockey player Mike Fisher, his country singer wife Carrie Underwood and HCA Healthcare were an unlikely trio, but a common mission to give back led the three to Danita’s Children, an organization that provides a home, food, education and pediatric care to thousands of children in Northeast Haiti.

Danita’s Children, like HCA, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, is also commemorating a milestone this year – 20 years of serving the Haitian community. And last Thursday night at Carrie Underwood’s event benefitting the charitable organization, Fisher’s opening video recognized HCA for its support of Danita’s Children.

Caregivers from HCA Healthcare and its affiliate The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial Medical Center were the first U.S. team to help prepare and perform pediatric surgical operations in the newly constructed operating room (OR) in the Danita’s Children Medical Center.

Peter Lindquist, DNP, director of nursing advocacy and leadership at HCA Corporate and board member at Danita’s Children said that the organization finished construction of the OR in seven months and worked with the Nashville, Tennessee-based healthcare system and its affiliated caregivers at TriStar Health to prepare for the first surgeries.

“This is a part of the country where no healthcare services like this are offered,” Lindquist said. “A very sad reality was that before this OR opened many of these children in this region of Haiti had no access to safe surgical care. The health team at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial spent countless hours prepping, making sure equipment and supplies were in Haiti, having conference calls via FaceTime with the leadership at Danita’s Children Medical Center and handled many more tasks to make this a reality.”

“Danita’s Children needed the talent, the expertise and a healthcare system like ours to partner with to complete these surgeries, and that’s exactly what we did,” added Lindquist, who also joined the TriStar health team in Haiti, after having lived in Haiti for months to oversee the construction of the operating room and ensure the hospital operated at a standard equal to the States.

Led by Tom Rauth, M.D., HCA Healthcare’s National Medical Director for Children’s Services and practicing pediatric surgeon, a team of six from The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial, including Lindquist, Bryan Sabbe, M.D. pediatric anesthesiologist, a pediatric nurse anesthetist, circulating nurse, scrub tech, and recovery room nurse, recently traveled to Haiti for a four-day medical mission trip.

“This was a proof of concept trip to learn what resources it will take to keep the operating room going,” Dr. Rauth said. “We traveled down there with safety at the forefront of all of our decision making. Our goal was to safely perform these operations and determine steps necessary for this hospital to advance the services it offers this community. This trip was a huge step in the right direction.”

On September 28, four operations were performed by the HCA/TriStar medical team in the OR of Danita’s Children Medical Center. The patients, who were seen in follow up and safely discharged before the caregivers returned to the U.S., ranged in age from 4 to 11 years old.

“We traveled to Haiti to teach this village to fish, so to speak,” Dr. Rauth said. “I operated with a Haitian surgeon, a young man who was in the first graduating class of general surgeons from a hospital in the central part of the country. He took a seven-hour bus ride on the day of his graduation so he could operate with us and learn,” he explained.

The healthcare team also had Haitian nurses and pediatrician at Danita’s work with them to learn how to safely recover a child waking up from anesthesia and safely perform post-op-care.  The long-term goal is to help impact the training and the experience of nurses and physicians in Haiti. That’s one of the missions of the work that HCA/TriStar is doing with Danita’s Children, Dr. Rauth said.

“Following Dr. Rauth’s example of having Haitian surgeons work alongside ours is one of the goals of Danita’s Children – to empower/mentor Haitian healthcare workers to be able to provide a high-level care to their own people.” Lindquist said.

“I can’t be there every month,” Dr. Rauth added, “but perhaps with the more than 20 children’s programs and over 30 (and growing) affiliated pediatric surgeons across HCA, we can use our scale to make this a reality. That’s one of the great things about HCA Children’s Services.”

Visit here to watch the video on the newly constructed operating room at Danita’s Children Medical Center. The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial Medical Center, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare, is based in Nashville, Tenn. 

Images in Haiti courtesy of Lacey West/Danita’s Children

HCA 50th Anniversary
In 1968, HCA Healthcare was conceived by two physicians and an accomplished business leader — Dr. Thomas Frist Sr., Dr. Thomas Frist Jr., and Jack Massey. This year, HCA celebrates its golden anniversary and the culture of caring established by our three founders 50 years ago. To help us celebrate our 50th year, we’ll share stories here that reflect HCA’s mission – above all else, the care and improvement of human life – and our pledge to improve life and make history for the next 50 years and beyond.