WCVB-Boston recently featured Build Health International in their “5 for Good” segment! Read or watch below to learn about BHI’s work to design & construct high-quality, equitable health infrastructure in Haiti and other nations around the world!
BEVERLY, Mass. — More than 3.3 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, a virus that first broke out half a world away. Jim Ansara said it is obvious that health care systems in other countries matter.
“For almost all Americans now, we’re starting to understand that we are not isolated,” Ansara said. “We are part of the world community.”
Ansara, the retired founder of construction giant Shawmut and Dr. David Walton are the founders of Build Health International or BHI. Walton, a Boston physician who has long worked in Haiti, approached Ansara in 2009 to help design a hospital there. That 300-bed teaching institution, the largest solar powered hospital in the Caribbean, would only be the beginning of their work together. BHI has now built more than 150 projects throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa.
The organization is based in Beverly where supplies to build and equip facilities around the world are stored and shipped out. Omar Hernandez is director of engineering.
“We receive all kinds of materials, donated, (we) purchase it,” Hernandez said. “We get it here. We prepare and we send it.”
Ansara said the BHI team recognized the threat of coronavirus quickly. Teams repaired critical equipment in facilities they help maintain. BHI made and sent out hundreds of gallons of hand sanitizer and mobilized to build COVID clinics. Their workers in Haiti built a 100 bed COVID unit, complete with piped oxygen to every bed, in four weeks.
“It’s one thing to do that at the Boston convention center,” Ansara said. “It’s a whole other thing to do it in Haiti, and it’s really a testament to what our Haitian workers have learned and done and who they are.”
Wherever BHI builds, Hernandez said the organization invests in hiring and training a local workforce. “It’s not just to build it,” he said. “How are they going to maintain it? How are they going to keep it? How are they going to provide services for 20, 50, 100 years?”
“What goes on in the poor countries as well as the rich countries really matters and affects us,” Ansara said. “We have to be going forward, when we emerge from COVID, we have to think about global health differently.”