Hank Patterson, owner of Deck Towel, and his wife, Gail Granowitz, M.D. and a Board Certified Anesthesiologist, traveled to Haiti last month to help with the efforts of Innovating Health International (IHI). IHI is a non-profit dedicated to treating chronic diseases and addressing women's health issues in developing countries. IHI aims to increase access to treatment and education services for chronic diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and injuries. Working with local partners, current projects include a Women's Cancer Center, a large cancer awareness program, opening a pathology laboratory, and helping to build a national comprehensive cancer program.
While working with IHI seems to be undoubtedly rewarding and purposeful, I sat down with Gail to learn more about the non-profit, and her experience in Haiti.
How and when did you learn about IHI?
I have done medical relief work in developing world settings for a while, but a few years ago, I decided to focus on women's health issues, using my skills as an Anesthesiologist. I learned of IHI and their mission, and it fit with what I wanted to volunteer to do. I contacted the organization, and it turns out that they were in need of exactly that!
What types of work did you partake in while in Haiti?
We focus on women's cancer, specifically breast and cervical cancer. We operate every day, doing mastectomies and hysterectomies, and the occasional other case that comes in once people hear that we are there!
How would you describe your overall experience while working with IHI?
I have had a wonderful experience working with IHI, and feel privileged to serve these women. In Haiti, as in many developing world settings, access to quality surgery and safe anesthesia is a challenge, something that we sometimes take for granted here in the US. Most women don't get screened for these diseases for a variety of reasons, so they present late, with advanced disease. Although sometimes the surgery we perform isn't curative, it can often give a woman more, pain-free time with her family.
What would you like readers to take away from your work with IHI?
I am in awe of the patients I serve at IHI in Haiti - against all odds, and often with an advanced and painful disease, these women remain cheerful, peaceful and grateful. It inspires me to do more to help with equity in healthcare, and to focus on education and prevention/early detection of women's cancers.
How can others get involved or support IHI?
I’m happy to chat with anyone interested in IHI; also, anyone can visit their website - https://www.innovatinghealthinternational.org - to learn more about this organization.
Stay tuned for our custom embroidered peshtemal towels featuring the IHI logo, where a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to IHI and their efforts. Do you have a charity, business, or organization you care deeply about? To learn more about our custom embroidery options, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Women’s History Month, from all of us at Deck Towel!