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Construction-focused nonprofit responds to Haiti earthquake

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The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on August 14 left much of the infrastructure in the country’s southern peninsula damaged. A Beverly, Massachusetts-based nonprofit with ties to a major U.S. contractor wants to help rebuild it.

Build Health International has been designing, constructing and maintaining high-quality health infrastructure around the world for more than a decade. The group was co-founded by Jim Ansara, the former CEO of Boston-based Shawmut Design and Construction, after a 2010 earthquake devastated the island. 

Its aim is to deliver sustainable, high-quality health infrastructure such as hospitals and medical clinics in low-resource regions around the world. From the beginning, Shawmut has supported the organization’s mission by providing in-kind donations, volunteers, and industry expertise on projects around the world and the company donated $25,000 to support the most recent relief efforts, according to a press release shared with Construction Dive.

In the aftermath of the latest earthquake, BHI has mobilized its Haitian team of engineers, electricians and technicians and is sending U.S.-based logistics specialists to clinics and hospitals across Haiti’s southern peninsula, where they will further assess damage, evaluate safety and coordinate immediate repairs to ensure that patients can receive treatment as quickly as possible. 

BHI is also working with other Massachusetts aid groups to facilitate the shipment of medical supplies, deploy surgeons and set up a temporary trauma and surgical center at St. Boniface Hospital, which was built by BHI.  

Working in 26 countries

Over the last 11 years, BHI has built over 60 projects in Haiti to strengthen health infrastructure across the country, including the National Teaching Hospital in Mirebalais. Despite the widespread damage caused by the earthquake, the teaching hospital as well as St. Boniface are standing strong, proving that sturdy and sustainable construction is possible in Haiti, according to the release.

Since then, BHI has designed, built and equipped more than 200 health-related spaces in 26 countries, enabling local doctors, nurses and medics to work at their full potential. Working closely with Ministries of Health, partner organizations, and local workforces, BHI promotes sustainable design, and empowers communities, and enables access to dignified and affordable healthcare in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. 

“We are so saddened by the destruction this catastrophic earthquake has brought to Haiti, a country that has already seen so much devastation,” said Les Hiscoe, Shawmut CEO, in the release. “We are humbled to contribute to Build Health International’s efforts to provide urgent healthcare infrastructure relief and repairs to hospitals across the country’s southern peninsula.”

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