Healing work in Haiti
Recorder/Paul Franz Nurse Practitioner Lauren Fox in her West County offices. Purchase photo reprints »
SHELBURNE FALLS — The first time nurse practitioner/homeopath Lauren Fox of West County Physicians went to Haiti was six months after the catastrophic earthquake hit Port-Au-Prince, a city of about 6 million people.
“People were in emotional and mental shock,” she said. “They needed physical help. People were still walking around in a total daze. Some had lost their homes or their family. Some didn’t even know where they are.”
“It has evolved since then,” Fox said.
Fox has been to Haiti three times since the 2010 earthquake, as a volunteer with Homeopaths Without Borders (HWB), a group that offers both homeopathic treatment and training in the use of homeopathic medicine.
Fox spent a week in early September both treating patients and helping train the first group of 15 students who are to graduate from HWB’s “Fundamentals Program,” a curriculum in homeopathic therapeutics. According to Fox, the students include nurses, medical students, pharmacists and a couple of community workers. She said the students spent 90 hours in a classroom and under supervision in a clinic setting.
“We’re going to move this teaching project to another part of the island, in the mountains where there is no medical practice whatsoever,” she said. “The whole project is to get them to be teaching and to do clinics and run study groups.”
A nurse practitioner for 40 years, Fox was also a home-births midwife for about 20 years. She has been a practitioner of homeopathy, an alternative medical treatment, for 30 years.
“It’s a systematic form of medicine that uses minute doses of natural substances that encourage the body to heal itself,” says Fox. “It’s safe and effective for all ages. It also can be used to stimulate the immune system, she said. “It’s easily learned.”
On her website, Fox explains: “The more individualized this medicine is, the more likely the person will respond with a lasting healing response. ... Guided by sound medical knowledge, the remedies can be utilized together with conventional treatments and drugs.”
Although Fox is busy with her practice in Shelburne Falls and in Florence, she says she treated about 100 people in Haiti over four days in September, at a temporary clinic she and others set up in a remote, hilltop church.
“Before the earthquake, there were 300 hospitals and clinics in Port-au-Prince,” she said. “Now there are about 100. Not to mention all the people outside of the city that have no access to health care.”
When Homeopaths Without Borders sets up temporary clinics, people learn about the clinics through word-of-mouth.
“The last time, we were in a school with a big courtyard,” she said. “There’s no advertising, but the word got out to the neighborhood and they all came. They waited out in the hot sun for hours just to see us.”
In these makeshift clinics, a dispensary is set up, and the available homeopaths, like Fox, have about 15 minutes per patient. With the shortage of medical providers in Haiti, those seeking help even include gravely ill people, with malaria or with the AIDS virus.
“Their main complaints are headache, muscular/skeletal problems, eye problems, digestion, reflux,” she said. “They are chronically malnourished,” she said. “Many have severe anemia.”
Fox said that HWB organization has several obstacles to overcome in Haiti. One of them is to find a pharmacy to partner with, so that homeopathic remedies can be shipped to Haiti. Fox said the group has to bring their supplies whenever they go to Haiti.
Another challenge is fundraising. Fox says she and other educator/supervisor homeopaths get small stipends from grants, “but when the grants aren’t there, we’re all volunteers,” she said. “There are transportation costs (within Haiti), we have to feed the students — because they’re struggling ...then pay for getting ourselves there.”
When asked if conditions in Haiti have changed since her first visit, Fox says conditions have improved, but more improvement is needed. “The roads are better,” she said. “There are more repaired houses. The rubble is much less, and there are many, many, many less tent cities. When I first went, they were everywhere.”
“It’s a lot better, but there’s still a long way to go. There seems to be less aid coming in than when I first came.”
She said the two planes per day that come to Port-au-Prince are half-full. Right after the earthquake, she said, “They were packed with people.”
When asked what keeps her going back to Haiti, she replied, “The beauty is in the people, in their smiles, in their gratitude. There’s something extraordinarily charming about many of the Haitians that I’ve met,” she said. “The children are just pure joy, and I have something that I think could be useful to them.”
Fox said she is going back to Haiti in February. If funds for a new program have been raised, she may be working with child-birthing attendants, to teach them homeopathic remedies for use during pregnancy, labor and postpartum. She said the infant mortality rate in Haiti is very high.
More information can be found at:
You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
or (413) 772-0261, ext. 277