Like most first-time visitors, Fournier was shocked by the extreme poverty he saw. When his vehicle stopped in a slum in the Haitian capital, little girls rushed to his window, their hands reaching for the disposable cups they spotted inside. Fournier watched them take the used cups and dip them into puddles for something to drink.
Something clicked: The girls' poverty and lack of resources left them susceptible to illness, not their nationality. Fournier thought back to the Haitian AIDS patients he had seen in Miami.
In the 20 years since that first visit, Fournier has been back more than 150 times, bringing University of Miami medical students to teach them about Haitian culture in hopes of encouraging them to pursue careers in global health and change medicine for the poor, says Dr. Barth Green, who co-founded Medishare with Fournier.
"He's a very special person who does believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy," says Green.
Today, Fournier still travels to both Haiti and parts of Miami, continuing his work with the community to which he committed his career. He recently showed off the benefits of a medical clinic embedded in a North Miami high school, and he reflected back on his years of work with the Haitian people.
"When you come from impoverished circumstances, I think you realize there are barriers to class and culture that consciously or unconsciously interfere with the people you're trying to serve," Fournier says. "I used to think that all you had to know to be a good doctor was to know medicine, but you really have to have a bond with the people you're trying to serve."