Dear colleagues and members of the AMHE,

It is reassuring to know that the spirit of Fellowship is still alive
and well in the Haitian-American medical community. Last night, I was
somewhat impressed by the level of interest displayed at the General
Assembly of the New York chapter of this time-honored professional
organization, AMHE.

It is also important that we acknowledge the steadfast commitment of
the first female president of the NY chapter, Dr Micheline Dole who,
by her own design, created a new vision for this old, time-tested
organization. In most of her opening remarks, she always points to her
fear of AMHE not doing enough to insure a generational shift for the
organization to continue in its mission to promote a community-minded
approach at healthcare. By her own initiative, a small number of young
Haitian-American medical professionals are now attending conferences
and meetings. To her credit, she does it all by using her personal
human resources from her large network of friends and family members,
for she has no concrete supporting staff to perform all the duties of
an effective Chapter President. Kudos to Dr Dole..

We are indeed a great organization with an enduring legacy having
withstood the ups and downs of a mostly troubled time in our 40-year
history. However, we fell dangerously short of our potential as an
organization within reach of close to 1000 Haitian-American
professionals. We shall forever be grateful to our predecessors for
keeping AMHE viable for so many years, but we must also change some
elements of the original guiding principles that were applicable then,
but seriously restrictive in our ability to move forward in this
rapidly changing healthcare industry of tomorrow. We should embrace a
less hindering approach in our quest to strengthen the community bond
with AMHE. The idea of establishing a closer link with our sister
organization, the Haitian-American Nurses Association, is definitely
the right strategy at a time when the nurses are becoming the true
backbone of the new model of coordinated care in America.  In my
humble opinion, we should continue to restructure AMHE by making the
following changes:

Inclusion. For the past 40 years, the membership of AMHE has been kept
homogeneously Haitian, a sort of a great alumni association. While
less than 10% of members were graduates outside the State University
of Haiti, the AMHE is still not pursuing any active campaign at
outreaching the large pool of Haitian-American graduates from other
medical schools. Presently, the number of Haitian-American medical
graduates from the U.S., Mexico and other Caribbean regions by far
surpassed the aging Haitian medical school graduates. It is time that
we begin to roll out the welcoming mat to the next generation and pass
the baton to our sons and daughters in the medical profession as part
of a new Haitian-American Medical Association (HAMA) dba AMHE. HAMA
will also attract a large body of mid-level professionals, including
nurses, NPs, PAs and other medical paraprofessionals (optometry,
chiropractors, podiatry..etc)

Corporate Structure. When this professional organization was conceived
in a different era, it was severely resource-constrained. At the time,
building a corporate structure was terribly expensive for a burgeoning
association , therefore it was relatively inexpensive to continue
operating on a pro-bono basis without even an official headquarter.
Such “mom and pop” organizational approach should now be reassessed in
2013. After 40 years, it is time that AMHE moves from “basement
gaterings” to “board room executive meetings”. It is important that
the top executives of AMHE start engaging into brainstorming sessions
to find ways of elevating this organization to another level of
operation so we can become more visible to the public at large. With a
potential membership of 2000-3000 physicians and other caregivers of
Haitian descent, we can really become the most powerful Caribbean
Association in the U.S.. It is no longer a dream, it is plausible

Leadership structure..Once we open our doors to newly-registered
members, our important leadership positions such as Central Board
members, Chapter leaders need to have a paid supporting staff to help
ease the burden inherent in their managerial responsibilities. Also,
it is important that we nominate leaders who can make a difference,
not to continually anoint friends with a honorary title for
self-serving purposes. For that, all paid members must have a voice in
the election or selection process via certified proxies. Of course,
once we can establish a constant flow of operating capital through
sound accounting infrastructure that will explore large grants ,
automated dues collection and even collective investments, our leaders
will have to be partially compensated if they are to be accountable
for the good or bad performance of a particular chapter in terms of
growth or loss in membership.

Political activism. While I understand our predecessors’ intent at
“staying away from politics” for fear of alienating members with
sensitive issues with past political despots in Haiti, such policy in
the context of the present U.S. healthcare dynamics is definitely
suicidal. We are at the crossroad of great changes in American medical
practice. As an organization, we need to organize in order to attract
attention. We need to be part of the political process. If we continue
to stay on the sidelines, we may as well convert AMHE into a nice
social organization with a glorious past, not one with the potential
for future greatness.

Lesly Kernisant, M.D., FACOG
Executive Director of Clinical Operations
AdvantageCare Physicians, P. C.


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