Mass closes Port-au-Prince hospital damaged in earthquake

The devastated St. Francis de Sales Hospital hosted its final event today: a Mass to say goodbye and remember the 70 people who died when a wing housing the pediatric unit collapsed during the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Bishop Joseph Lafontant, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince, and Archbishop Bernardito Auza, papal nuncio, concelebrated the Mass on the grounds of the crumpled facility.

Plans call for building a modern 200-bed facility on the site, said Anna Van Rooyen, chief of party, health and HIV for Catholic Relief Services. She is working with the hospital staff in the rebuilding effort.

Plans call for construction to begin some time after the first anniversary of  the quake and take at least 18 months, Van Rooyen told CNS.

Despite sustaining serious damage, St. Francis de Sales Hospital remained open and its staff accepted patients immediately after the earthquake. Gallant staff members treated seriously injured patients under harsh conditions in tents set up in an outdoor courtyard for months. Equipment and beds were salvaged from what was left standing.

The hospital closed last month so it could move to a temporary location in Cazeau, north of the international airport and about 12 miles from the old facility in the center of the Haitian capital. Still working under tents, but in a more orderly setting, the staff is treating up to120 patients at any one time.

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