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#5311: Prestigious Albert Schweitzer Award Granted To Gwendolyn Grant Mellon (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Prestigious Albert Schweitzer Award Granted To Gwendolyn Grant Mellon
for Her Renowned Medical Mission
Updated 10:10 PM ET October 13, 2000

 WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, October 18, 2000,
Gwendolyn Grant Mellon will travel from Deschapelles Haiti and the
Hopital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) which she founded with her husband, Dr.
Larimer Mellon almost 50 years ago, to receive the prestigious Albert
Schweitzer Award for  Humanitarianism. The award is timely due to the
recent release of "Song of Haiti," a true-life love story, adventure
story and biography by Barry Paris describing in compelling detail the
lives of Dr. Larimer and Gwen Mellon and their legacy of remarkable
service amidst the exotic voodoo atmosphere of Haiti. HAS was started as
a small hospital clinic and has grown into a medical center, a model
worthy of duplication in other developing countries. HAS and the
Mellon's tireless work have improved the lives of Haitians in
dramatic ways including:

 Immunizing 95% of children against childhood diseases 
 Eliminating newborn and adult tetanus 
 Virtually eliminating measles 
 Training 1800 volunteer health workers and 200 veterinary aides 
 Establishing 6 community clinics 
 Drilling 100 fresh water wells

In the late 1940's, inspired by Dr. Albert Schweitzer's work in Africa,
Larimer Mellon began studying medicine at the age of 38 at Tulane
University. Larimer and Gwen Mellon made a series of visits to South
America, the Caribbean and Haiti. They found that within Haiti's rural
mid section, a 600 square mile area with 100,000 people, there was not a
single doctor in private practice and only two small government clinics.
They also discovered a unique culture. The charm and beauty of the
people stunned them as much as the poverty and disease. While Dr. Mellon
finished medical school, Mrs. Mellon was left to work out construction
 costs, and the huge number of legal, financial and logistical details,
not least of which was the government's formal approval to build a
hospital on some abandoned Standard Fruit Co. property in the middle of
rugged terrain 90 miles north of Port-au-Prince in the Artibonite Valley
village of Deschapelles. They sold their Arizona ranch and used the
funds for construction of the hospital in the neediest and poorest spot
in the Western Hemisphere. Dr. Mellon's personal funds sustained the
hospital's operation with invaluable help from friends, family and
interested donors. "He loved the ranch, but it wasn't enough," recalled
Mrs. Mellon of her husband who devoted the remainder of his life to Dr.
Schweitzer's ethic of "Reverence for Life." The doors of the hospital
opened on June 26, 1956, Dr. Mellon's 46th birthday, two years to the
day after groundbreaking.Since then, the list of successful projects has
included dam construction, veterinary clinics, well building, even
the repair of a bridge to the local voodoo priest's home. "The whole
point is to improve the quality of life of those we chose to plan and
work with," says Mrs. Mellon. "HAS is an integrated system of health
care, committed to health education, public health, and community
development." In the surrounding communities,HAS has spearheaded
numerous efforts to improve agriculture, reforestation, animal
husbandry, water supply distribution and local economies.
 Currently, the main hospital houses 108 beds with 2 operating rooms,
laboratory and pharmacy, and food services. HAS cares for the medical
needs of more than 400 outpatients per day and 2500 inpatients per year
often in innovative and resourceful ways. 95% of the 600-member staff
are Haitian. Many patients arrive on donkeys which they tether to posts
outside the facility. Some others are carried by family members for
miles on bamboo stretchers.Now approaching 90th year, Mrs. Mellon has
kept the mission alive since Dr. Mellon's death in 1989. "HAS
envisions even greater impact in the future," says Mrs. Mellon, citing
five areas of emphasis:
 1) women's health
 2) expanded community development
 3) equitable distribution of health care to outlying areas
 4) integrated services for AIDS patients and their families
 5) partnerships with agencies in Haiti and globally

 Plans are underway for renovations to the hospital because of the
increasing demands over the past 4+decades. "We are already deep into
plans to ensure the hospital's viability," says Mrs. Mellon. However, it
is with the continuing support of all our friends and donors that the
hospital will be able to provide expanded services as HAS has done in
the past.A successful future may require renovations to the hospital.
Luke Desmone of Desmone & Associates Architects in Pittsburgh, PA has
been assigned to assemble a team of experts to create a Master Plan to
outline the next 40 years of the hospital's future. A capital campaign
will be launched by Linden Partners of Pittsburgh, PA once costs and
conditions for the facility and the surrounding environment are
determined. In Haiti, Mrs. Mellon could easily be called a celebrity of
heroine status, overseeing what could be called the greatest hospital in
the poorest country of our hemisphere. She makes contact with the
patients each day on her way to her office under the mango tree and as
she walks through the hospital corridors. Mrs. Mellon, in
partnership with her husband, overcame the obstacles to founding,
building and running a hospital in Haiti for almost 50 years. She's
endured cut fuel supplies, a confrontation with a machete-wielding mob
of political  protestors, warnings for Americans to leave Haiti for
their own safety, and Dr. Mellon's death. She continues to immerse
herself in the life of Deschapelles, providing leadership to both staff
and community. She has earned the respect, even the reverence of the
people, in part because she views herself not as a savior but as
a neighbor. Mrs. Mellon continues to stay in Haiti.

Tax-deductible contributions may be made in the care of the Grant
Foundation, 1410 Magellan Drive, Sarastoa, FL 34243.