Dominican Republic Mission Trip: El Soco-01/11/2017
By Nadia Carter
Today, we served 107 patients at El Soco. Similar to the day prior, we set up in a moderately large church. We utilized the pews to set up our stations: evaluations, pharmacy, dentistry, education, glasses & clothing donations. After, we had the opportunity to receive a tour of Hospital El Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan Hospital). The hospital is a public hospital and is located in La Romana Province of the Dominican Republic. The hospital was beautiful, the decor made it feel more so like a professional office building, than a hospital. The services provided ranged from: Dermatology to Psychiatry, as well as having imaging testing, on-site pharmacy, etc. There is nothing that I can think of in terms of medical specialty that this hospital lacked.
Upon return, some of the members of the mission provided us with a brief history of the mission and the services they provide to the community. The Good Samaritan Mission was started by Reverand Jean Luc Phanord, a Haitian immigrant to the Dominican Republic. He established 21 churches in the La Romana region, mostly in the bateyes. He believed that education was important for the people of the bateyes and established Christian schools at several locations. Most notably, he campaigned in the U.S. for financial support to start the Good Samaritan Hospital, after a pregnant woman died following substandard care at a local clinic. The hospital opened in 1997, it was initially an outpatient clinic but has grown since then. Even during our visit, we were able to see that the hospital was adding another floor to the building. The hospital currently sees approximately 40,000 patients annually. We also learned about scholarship programs for students (approximately $4000 annually). These scholarship programs allow for students to pay for advanced degrees, such as those in medicine and law. One of the mission members, Antonio, was a result of a sponsorship. He told us being sponsored allowed him to move out of the bateyes and receive a good education to get a job to support his family. The mission also provides loans to women in the bateyes, who traditionally are not allowed to work. The loan is approximately $200, and includes teaching about being able to start a business. With the help of the loan and business education, women are able to develop confidence and economic independence to help their family. At the end of the talk, we were given the opportunity to purchase mugs with the mission’s logo for $10, with 100% of the money going to donations for the mission.
Sara and Margie working with translator
Sara with baby
Good Samaritan Hospital-La Romana
Tour of Good Samaritan Hospital-La Romana
By Munirat Adebimpe
When we arrived to Bayete El Soco, we shortly saw some similarities and differences between this barrio and the others that we had visited; the poverty was obvious, but the sense of community and togetherness was palpable. As we set up for the day, children flocked to the playground to play. We saw around 80 patients total for the day, and while each one had important complaints and medical needs, a few were very memorable. A young boy came to the clinic, accompanied by his loving and devoted mother. The boy was 12, but weighed only 30 lbs and was wheelchair bound due to his diagnosis of cerebral palsy which he has lived with for the entirety of his young life. The boy’s mother began to share their history and his current medical need. We diagnosed him with aspiration pneumonia, based on his lungs sounds, increased need for oxygen and mothers reporting regarding her feeding patterns including how the child coughs often when she is feeding him. Immediately we changed his position to high fowlers and were able to see a difference in his demand for oxygen. Over 5 minutes, our young man was more alert and less lethargic simply by repositioning and maximizing his oxygenation. Lastly, although a referral was made for the mother to take her son to the hospital as soon as possible, the most important piece was education. We also provided a course of antibiotics in the event she was unable to afford the medications after the hospital visit. Over the course of this day, and others days, while in the DR, educating the patients about the risks, benefits and proper techniques proved to be most helpful based on my perspective. It also seemed that education regarding their health was something they were not getting enough of even when seen by their primary care physicians or at the hospitals. Overall, this day was full of emotions, in addition to the need to feel confident in my diagnostic abilities in concert with other nurses and doctors.