There is no doubt that health is a most precious gift one can have, no matter how much wealth you have. People who have helped protect and maintain health have always been appreciated. This explains why healthcare workers are in demand in most developed countries and immigration laws are sometimes bent to entice the best of them from poor countries. Haiti is no exception. Since the mid-1900’s, the US has managed to grab the best healthcare professionals from Haiti to the point that there are now more Haitian doctors in the US than in Haiti.

Make no mistake. The reason they want us here is that they value our contribution. The US educational system must invest millions of dollars to take a student from first grade to a doctorate level. They have us ready to serve without investing a penny.

Although much attention has been given to the medical doctors, the credit should be shared among all healthcare workers. It is like a pyramid from the home attendants at the base to the scientists at the top. It takes the whole pyramid of healthcare workers to provide good care. In big cities like New York, the home attendants have made an invaluable contribution to the healthcare system. Most of them are overqualified for the work they do with all their affection and skills. The elderly and disabled patients who have benefited from their good services are sometimes so grateful that they consider them as part of their family. The nurse’s aides who must make sure the patients in hospitals and nursing homes are clean and well fed are essentials to the healthcare system. A big debt is due to the army of dedicated nurses who must make sure that the doctor’s orders are safely executed. Without good nurses, there is no effective medical care. There are no hospitals in big metropolitan areas where you don’t find nurses at different levels. I don’t want to leave aside the other allied healthcare professionals of Haitian descent like the microbiologists, the lab technicians, the X-Ray technicians and others who are part of the medical team.

When it comes to the medical doctors whom I have the privilege to represent, they have been major assets to the healthcare system in the US, from the general practitioners to the University president. The Haitian physicians are found in Undeserved communities where the services are well needed. Without their contribution, those patients would develop major complications and end up in hospitals where services are very costly. The general practitioners are the gatekeepers, the front-line soldiers who deserve much credit. The Haitian community is fortunate to have its own health care workers who understand the culture, speak the language. This cultural approach is a major contribution that is sometimes underestimated.

We find Haitian physicians in almost all medical specialties and subspecialties in the most reputable university hospitals. There are clinical instructors, professors, medical directors, scientists, researchers, deans of medical schools, etc. We find Haitian physicians in CDC (Center for disease control), the NIH (National Institute of Health) and other major federal agencies. We even have a Haitian physician as the president of a major university.

Besides their scientific knowledge, the Haitian Healthcare workers have the empathy, the courtesy and the finesse that make them stand out. I think it is Haitian spirit we have inherited from our motherland.

We should be all be proud of the contribution Haitians have made in the US healthcare system. 

J. Roosevelt Clerisme, M.D.


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