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Grommet Spotlight: Containers to Clinics - Helping in Haiti

Today's Grommet - hand-embroidered nightgowns made by the Haiti Project - got us thinking about a Grommet we featured over the holidays, Containers to Clinics. You might recall that founder, Elizabeth Sheehan, visited us to tell us how about her creative solution for converting shipping containers into healthcare clinics to serve people around the world.

And then, the earthquake hit Haiti.

Containers to Clinics was one of many organizations to offer help. We'd like to share a letter we just received from Elizabeth about her organization's plans to visit Port-au-Prince next week and bring one of their clinics to the country in the next few months:

Hello Daily Grommet Community,

Greetings in the New Year from Containers to Clinics (C2C). I wanted to update you on our C2C model and our work to bring sustainable healthcare services to women and children in underserved communities in the developing world.

At the end of 2009, C2C was pursing the opportunity to deploy the prototype container clinic to a community in the Dominican Republic. We conducted a feasibility assessment outside of Baní, DR, in September 2009 and began working with the Ministry of Health (both national and provincial) in an effort to support their health sector reform implementation and the extension of health posts to rural areas. Despite efforts to advance our options to pilot the C2C clinic model in the Dominican Republic, the MoH was not able to commit to a reliable and comprehensive supply chain for pharmaceuticals.

As our discussion entered into the New Year, the devastating earthquake struck Haiti and C2C was approached with a number of opportunities to deploy the prototype unit to Port-au-Prince. As always, our commitment to sustainable health systems informed our choices. Piloting the clinic in Port-au-Prince presents a different set of challenges, but also an opportunity to make an important contribution to the post-earthquake health crisis.

Our focus is and has always been on maternal and child health and primary and preventive care. Together with Americares, C2C will launch the pilot clinic in Haiti in May 2010.

While the Haitian Ministry of Health has experienced significant setbacks in the weeks and months after the earthquake, there are aid and relief organizations working to increase the MoH’s capacity and autonomy. C2C is collaborating closely the Health Cluster in Port-au-Prince to ensure that our efforts are responsive, collaborative, and aligned with the MoH’s reconstruction plans.

Americares will provide essential support to C2C’s pilot deployment. Americares will supply all pharmaceuticals and health commodities to the clinic for a period of three (3) years. We recognize that a fee-for-service model is not feasible in Haiti under the present circumstances, but this pilot program will allow C2C to refine our operational model, to learn about ways to improve the facility for future fabrications and – with a robust M&E protocol – we will seek the inputs and learnings that will enable us to fabricate and deploy additional clinics in the second half of 2010 and in 2011.

C2C designed the prototype clinic with the support of a broad stakeholder group, including leading public health practitioners, medical doctors, and international development specialists. The prototype clinic consists of two 8’x20’ shipping containers which have been retrofitted to allow for two patient consultation rooms, a pharmacy, and a laboratory. The mechanical and electrical systems have been designed for maximum versatility, so that this pilot (and future clinics) can be constructed to “plug in” to a variety of water and power scenarios. 

 C2C would be grateful for any support that can be given to our clinic production roll-out in Haiti.

 At C2C, we believe that the high quality health care in both rural and resource-challenged areas is possible and that the lack of adequate delivery systems deprives people of access to healthcare – both treatment and education.

The health situation in Haiti is both grave and urgent and we are confident that the container clinic model is well-suited to disaster relief environments, because we offer a facility that can move with changing migration patterns and demographics. C2C is creating job opportunities for Haitians – we are not importing western medical or management personnel

We will be in Port-au-Prince from March 14th through March 19th to assess the optimal site for the clinic.  I appreciate any financial assistance you're able to offer.


Elizabeth Sheehan

 You can follow the progress of Containers2Clinics on their trip down to Haiti right on their blog: http://www.containers2clinics.org/


  • Hisham K Says:

    Just got back from Haiti last week and couldn't agree more! We managed to hand out over 1000 dental care kits. Included in the kits were a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and a toy for each child. Many of these kids have never seen a toothbrush, so their faces glowed like they had just been given a treasure box! A focus on education can go along way.......check out the pics at http://reflectiondentistry.blogspot.com/

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