USF professor helps hospital in Haiti through mammography unit donation

February 15, 2021

University of Saint Francis Biology Professor Dr. Amy Obringer can’t wait for her return to Haiti – and the culmination of a great idea to help a rural hospital’s patients.

Dr. Obringer and three others sent a request in 2018 to Parkview Health’s mammography unit suppliers to seek a donation of a used mammography unit for New Hope Hospital in Plaine du Nord, Haiti. On February 2, when Parkview’s Bryan, Ohio, facility received a new 3-D unit, the old but still usable 2-D unit was prepared for transport to Haiti. Hologic, a company that provides mammography units to Parkview, made the charitable donation.

“On the first medical mission trip to Haiti in 2017, we provided care to patients at New Hope Hospital, which serves the poor in northern Haiti,” Dr. Obringer said. “The first morning, I was approached by a woman with a very large breast tumor. Dr. Kate Heimann of Adams Memorial Hospital and then pre-PA student Cortney Albers examined the woman. There was nothing they could do but tie her tumor with an ACE bandage to help her hold its weight. We provided money for her to get a motorcycle ride to a larger hospital.”

The encounter stuck with Dr. Obringer. A year later, she joined with Marita Dwight-Smith (Director of Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography), New Hope Hospital’s Dr. Eugene Macklin and USF student Tyler Lengerich to request the charitable donation.

After Parkview Physicians Group in Bryan received the new unit, the old 2-D unit was dismantled and will be shipped to Haiti. Later, Dr. Obringer, Dwight-Smith, and others will travel to Haiti to assemble the unit and train hospital personnel to use it.

The unit will travel to Haiti in two separate shipments. North Carolina’s Rise Against Hunger group, which helps support New Hope Hospital, will transport two of the components by cargo ship. The other, which is temperature sensitive, is being stored at USF and will be transported by airplane once travel restrictions are lifted.

“The hospital serves a community of over 250,000 people. Most of the patients are poor and have no means of personal transportation,” Dr. Obringer said. “(The mammography unit) will enable Dr. Maklin the ability to offer confident, informed medical advice to his patients. The mammography machine itself will offer opportunities for breast health awareness education.”

The donation was featured locally in an article in The Journal Gazette.

Photo courtesy Ellie Bogue