A Haitian American Legacy of Caring

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Pictured left to right: First President and Founder of HANA of Florida, Alice Casimir; First Lady of the Republic of Haiti, Madame Sophia Martelly; and HRSA’s CDR Gettie Audain, representing her mother, Georgette Audain, 2nd HANA president and co-founder.

For HRSA’s Gettie Audain, nursing runs in the family.

The daughter of a Certified Nurse Midwife who emigrated to the U.S. from Haiti in 1964, CDR Audain of HAB recently accepted an award on behalf of her mother, Georgette — recognizing her leadership of the Haitian American Nurses Association of Florida (HANA).
From 1987-89, Georgette Audain was the second president of the organization, which she had helped to establish just a few years before.

The organization grew over 30 years to 800 members across five U.S. chapters. Its national and global efforts to provide disaster services and nursing care, outreach and education, continue to aid Haitians “throughout the Diaspora.”

HANA members serve patients “when there is no one (else) there to translate for them, talk to them (in their own language), and care for them,” explained CDR Audain, currently serving in HAB’s Division of Community HIV/AIDS Programs.

It was her mother’s example that led her to serve in Haiti following the disastrous 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 220,000 people, injured over 300,000 more and left 1.5 million homeless.

When she was a child, Audain’s parents insisted that she and her brothers speak only French in their Brooklyn, N.Y. home. She practiced Haitian Creole with patients at a clinic in Miami’s Little Haiti.

That early language proficiency paid off later in her professional life. As a nurse for the Dade County Health Department and Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, aiming “to eradicate drug-resistant Tuberculosis” and prevent the spread of HIV infection,
CDR Audain “worked in the trenches.”

With a Master of Healthcare Science Administration degree from Florida International University, Georgette Audain’s constant willingness “to give of her time, talent and knowledge” gave her “an incredible ability to influence change” as a HANA leader,
her daughter said.

During the awards ceremony — which Georgette Audain could not attend due to illness — CDR Audain acknowledged her mother’s intense pride in HANA’s contributions to the health care system of Haiti, in providing scholarships to nurses there, and for being instrumental in the formation of the country’s first Board of Nursing.

Both mother and daughter are grateful for “purpose-driven careers,” said CDR Audain.