Friday, December 13, 2013

Healing Haiti

ON THE SAME PAGE: From left, Michelman, Montoban, Roy and John Driscoll, assistant director of Police and Security

It would be one of the first steps toward healing, Ernst Montoban says, if a security officer posted at the entrance of Haiti’s newest hospital greeted patients with a smile and patient, reassuring words.

“We need to start transitioning people’s minds and introduce a new culture to the area,” says Montoban, head of security for Zanmi Lasante, a sister organization of Partners In Health, the Boston-based organization committed to improving the health of those in need. “It may be a slow transition as we get everybody on the same page – but people have a willingness and a desire to learn. We want eventually to get to a place where there is respect, and we are looked upon like the security team here at the MGH is.”

In November, Montoban spent 10 days shadowing MGH Police, Security and Outside Services staff members to learn how he can implement similar policies and procedures in the newly constructed L’hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais, a 205,000-square-foot, 300-bed teaching hospital that currently employs 125 officers at the main site and its satellite clinics. Upon his return to Haiti, Montoban plans to begin the first of many training sessions to help educate and advance his staff. “The culture now is one that is very aggressive and we are trying to show people that they can speak through non-verbal confrontations and without weapons. It’s been so very helpful to come to the MGH. This information will help us to build a foundation in Haiti. Here at the MGH, when someone sees an officer, they feel safe. And the officers speak to patients like human beings, with full respect.”

Harold Roy, of MGH Police and Security, whose extended family lives in Haiti, helped spearhead the project, with the support of department officials. “This really has been the MGH’s vision from the very beginning – to serve the poor here and in other communities,” Roy says. “This is a wonderful experience and opportunity for us to help Ernst and share our knowledge.”

Montoban says that, along with the technical training aspect, he hopes to be able to instill the sense of respect he has seen between the MGH medical staff, security officers, patients and their families. “It is my goal and vision that – 5, 10, 25 years down the road – the reason we are successful is because of the model we are following, the one I learned at the MGH. There is real leadership here, and I am so thankful to have gained this experience.”

Bonnie Michelman, director of MGH Police and Security, adds, “This was set up with us as the teachers, but we enjoyed being students as well. The mission of our department is to deliver protective and supportive services to the MGH community in order to provide a welcoming, accessible and safe environment. I am thrilled our staff was able to share their insights on how Ernst can help make this same mission possible in Haiti through his own security staff.”

Read more articles from the 12/13/13 Hotline issue.


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