Free care hurting Haiti hospitals

June 20, 2010 at 10:51 AM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, June 20 (UPI) -- Volunteer doctors and donated supplies poured in from abroad after the January Haiti earthquake, but local doctors and private hospitals say they are closing.

They can't compete with the free medical care, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Centre Hospitalier du Sacre-Coeur/CDTI, a private facility owned by Dr. Reynold Savain and his family, was the most advanced in Haiti, the newspaper said.

After the earthquake, "I gave everything," Savain told the Morning News. "I turned the hospital over to the Americans and some of these big NGOs (nongovernmental organizations such as the American Red Cross) because they said they had money and they would help me. But nobody gave me a dime."

Savain closed the facilities March 31 after three months without paying his 177 employees.

"Healthcare is free now" from volunteers, Savain 55, a radiologist and third-generation physician, told the Morning News. "And so, unless something changes, the private Haitian medical sector will not be able to survive."

Dr. Michel Theard, told the newspaper, "Free care is perfect. You can imagine more and better things now." He sits on the board of the Canape-Vert hospital, a 30-bed private facility that now serves only six or seven patients. The staff has been slashed in half.

"Local doctors gave away free care at the beginning, like everyone else," he told the newspaper. "But they have to survive. They have their own families and their own responsibilities."

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