By: Hannah Heitz
The mission of the undergraduate chapter of the Haiti Neurosurgery Initiative (HNI) is to raise money for Emory School of Medicine residents to travel to Haiti, which is certainly not inexpensive. Available funding sources could never cover the prices of flights and lodging, but through HNI’s unique approach to fundraising they have raised $1,300 in one semester alone.
HNI itself was created through inventive social entrepreneurship. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the already minimally available healthcare took a harrowing blow, leaving thousands without access to care. Although there was inadequate neurosurgical capacity prior to the quake, the need for these surgeries only escalated with countless spinal injuries that resulted from the destruction of buildings across the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Dr. Jonathan Riley and Dr. Nicholas Boulis, resident and attending neurosurgeons at Emory University respectively, developed an idea to increase availability of neurosurgical care: send residents to Haiti as part of their clinical rotation. These residents already function in the same capacity in various hospitals across Atlanta, rotating from Emory Midtown, Grady, and the main campus, why not in Haiti? This would provide valuable experience for residents and provide ongoing neurosurgical care in Haiti. This was a risky venture, but innovative and unique with incredible opportunity for success and growth.