Departure: Boston to Santo Domingo
Since our kickoff meeting in September, the members of the Dominican Republic mission trip have been preparing for today's departure. Mertie Potter, a faculty member in the School of Nursing, has coordinated both the academic and logistical sides of the project. Her husband, Fred, has tuned up his camera to document the trip. The seven nurse practitioner students from the MGH Institute have laid the foundations for their scholarly projects. Donald Hess and the two surgical residents at Boston Medical Center have secured supplies for the operating room. And I have...well, so far I've researched when the local baseball team plays in La Romana.
La Romana is our destination, a coastal city east of Santo Domingo. It's the country's third-largest city, but other than that fact, Wikipedia is no help. Unlike most visitors to the area, we are not bound for one of the nearby beach resorts, but rather the Buen Samaritano Hospital and the sugar plantation worker settlements known as bateyes. The plan is for the surgical team to operate at the hospital Monday through Friday. We envision their cases will be general surgery patients with hernias or gall bladders in need of repair. Some of the nursing students will rotate through the hospital providing postoperative care for the patients. Meanwhile, the rest of the team will visit different bateyes around La Romana. The representatives at Christian Medical Mission, who are coordinating the trip, tell us to expect up to 100 people per session in need of blood pressure screenings, eyeglasses, medications, and dental care. Our hope is that, despite the disadvantages of a low-resource environment, we will be able to provide the kinds of interprofessional, collaborative care that even the most sophisticated health systems in the United States seek to deliver.