Monday, October 20, 2008

Project HOPE Volunteers With U.S. Navy in the Dominican Republic

Ten members of a Project HOPE volunteer medical team were recently deployed for a mission to the Dominican Republic, only one of several countries in Latin America that was chosen for the U.S. Navy’s 2008 Continuing Promise Campaign.

The doctors were housed aboard the USS Kearsarge, as were medical personnel from the Netherlands, Canada, Brazil, and France. U.S. military and uniformed services taking part in the Dominican portion of Continuing Promise aboard the Kearsarge were the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Army, and Public Health Services, along with another non-profit agency, International Aid. In another aspect of the campaign, the Army Corps of Engineers built washed out bridges and playgrounds, and veterinarians vaccinated domestic animals.

Cmdr. David Damstra, M.D. the officer in charge of the surgical team, said that the deployment at the height of hurricane season was “by design” to better assist those Caribbean nations who might suffer from the storms’ impact. “Project HOPE is an integral part of this team,” he said. “If need be, we can give immediate relief by helicopter.

Because Dominican Republic was not severely damaged by hurricanes this year, several secondary sites on the island were established to screen and treat patients. Surgical patients were taken aboard the Kearsarge for treatment.

Three of the Project HOPE team, PACU Nurse Julia Taylor of Tucson, Anesthesiologist Dr. Enrique Abreu of Portland, and General Surgeon Dr. Sharon Weintraub of Baltimore, were aboard as part of the overall surgical team. Drs. Abreu and Weintraub spent the first several days in Santo Domingo, at Dominican Naval Base 27 de Febrero, identifying prospective patients for the surgeries which were carried out on the latter part of the mission. Dr. Weintraub also performed an emergency appendectomy on a crew member.

“I’m very pleased by the unity of purpose during this mission. Everyone has melded together as a team,” commented Capt. Frank Ponds, the Commodore of the U.S. Navy’s Southern 4th Fleet, who is aboard the Kearsarge for the mission. “Sea spray is a great equalizer.”

Cmdr. Ponds said that Continuing Promise is planned as an annual campaign in Central and Latin America, as part of the Navy’s humanitarian campaign, after this year’s success in integrating other services and non-profits.

Other Project HOPE team members include Dr. Hilary Warren, a pediatrician from Boise; Dr. Lydia Segal, a family practice doctor from Washington, D.C.; Rena Rovere, a family nurse practitioner from Albany; Lillian Sanpere, a licensed midwife from Tallahassee; Linda Rothery, a family nurse practitioner from Florida; Maria Morris, a nurse educator from Houston and the project medical director, Dr. Nancy Foote, a family practitioner from Seattle.

-By Project HOPE Volunteer Inga Kimple

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Project HOPE Volunteers Help in Haiti

Just before the USS Kearsarge continued on its way to the Dominican Republic three of Project HOPE's volunteers had the opportunity to join the US Navy in offering aid to the people of Haiti. Haiti was not originally scheduled as a stop but hurricanes forced the USS Kearsarge to change route in order to help the country whose washed out roads had made it impossible to get aid to certain regions. At the time Project HOPE only had three volunteers aboard as all the other volunteers had been originally scheduled to join the Kearsarge in Panama but due to the change they were diverted to the Haiti just in time to join the crew as it departed for the Dominican Republic. Below is an account of the team's work in Haiti.

Happy reading,

Working with the United States Navy in Operation Continuing Promise in Latin America, Project Hope volunteers on board the USS Kearsarge were diverted from humanitarian projects in Columbia and Panama to bring food, water and other relief supplies and emergency medical care to Haiti after the island of Hispaniola was the target of four major hurricanes: Fay, Gustav, Hannah, and Ike.

After an initial rapid assessment of Haiti’s needs by the Navy, areas cut off by washed out bridges and roads were targeted for aid. According to the Navy Officer in Charge, Captain Tim Shope, M.D., many of the villages had no lines of communication open and were accessible only by helicopter. “We evaluated the sanitation, medical, and food needs at each site, which then allowed us to work with the non-government agencies and the other military branches to set up emergency clinics,” he said.

One of the first Project Hope volunteers to see patients was Dr. Hilary Warren, a pediatrician from Boise, Idaho, who worked alongside medical personnel from the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and the Canadian Forces. U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force medical services are also present for this mission, as are members of the Brazilian and Dutch armed forces.

After landing on a mountaintop in a Navy CH53 heavy lift helicopter, Dr. Warren, a veteran of Peruvian and Honduran medical missions, was greeted by the Gros Morne mayor and a large group of enthusiastic citizens, including many children and animals. The colorful parade walked some two miles to a makeshift clinic, where over several hours the three doctors saw 206 patients, while veterinary teams administered basic animal care and vaccinations.

“We used one room of the school and turned around the wooden desks to make examination tables,” Dr. Warren said. “One of the Canadians served as a French interpreter and one of the locals translated Haitian Creole, when needed.

“Most of these people were living in a shelter in Gros Morne because they were displaced by the storms, but in general, although there was some malnutrition, this particular village was in pretty good shape. Because clean water was being provided, there was little diarrhea.”

With the overall hardship in the country, Dr. Warren said she saw many cases brought on by what she termed ‘the pain of poverty.’ “Adults often complain of non-specific pain saying they ‘hurt all over’. This is common in populations that spend their lives in backbreaking farm work, or other chores such as drawing water from wells and carrying it for miles on their heads,” she said. “Life is not easy here and by the time they’re middle-aged, their bodies break down.”

Family Practitioner Dr. Nancy Foote and Family Nurse Practitioner Linda Rothery worked nearby in the village of Terre de Negre. Along with another USPHS physician they established their clinic in a church that doubles as the village school, and were able to see about the same number of patients as the other site.

Both women bring a wealth of experience and compassion to their service. Dr. Foote, a family physician from Seattle spent over two years in the bush in Zimbabwe with the American Friends Service Committee. The Operations Manager, Medical Director, and Chief Education Officer for the Colombia, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago portions of Project Hope’s current mission, Dr. Foote spent most of her career caring for migrant and seasonal farm workers in eastern Washington and most recently worked as a Spanish medical interpreter for the University of Washington Medical Center.

Ms. Rothery, now enrolled in a doctorate nursing program at the University of Florida, is a former care flight nurse who was often sent to rescue injured coalminers in the mountains of Virginia. Upon graduation she plans to serve in international mission work.

After the Haiti mission was complete, Captain Frank Ponds, Commodore of the Kearsarge which is operating under the Southern Command Fourth Fleet, gathered the medical teams together for some well-earned praise. “This mission was seamless with a high degree of professionalism. Your passion and compassion resonates,” he commented.

-By Project HOPE Volunteer Inga Kimple

Monday, October 6, 2008

Project HOPE Volunteers Continue Continuing Promise '08 Mission

Volunteers from Project HOPE are participating in their fourth humanitarian assistance mission with the United States Navy this year. Embarking the USS Kearsarge in Haiti, there are currently 10 volunteers from across the United States aboard to provide health care and health education as part of Continuing Promise 2008 to Central and South America. In all nearly 50 Project HOPE volunteers will join colleagues from non-governmental organizations and Navy medical personnel to provide basic health care, health education and humanitarian assistance to children and adults who often do not have access to care.

Meet the Project Hope Team Currently Aboard the USS Kearsarge

Julia Taylor, PACU RN
Residing in Tucson, AZ, Julia is a former teacher, and civilian computer scientist for the federal government. Julia enjoys reading, camping, and biking. She will remain on the ship most of the time in Dominican Republic, as cases are brought into the operating room.

Lydia Segal, MD
Lydia is a family practice doctor. She is a former journalist, who went into family practice, then integrative medicine, and is back to family practice. She grew up in the Bronx, attended college and medical school in Arizona, and now lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband.

Rena Rovere, MS, FNP-C
Residing in Altamont, NY, Rena is a family nurse practitioner who regularly volunteers with Compassion in Action. She has 25 years as a clinical nurse specialist in the emergency room and has seven years experience as a family nurse practitioner. She enjoys biking, swimming, walking, reading, and is practicing her Spanish. She and her husband have three grown children.

Sharon Weintraub, MD
Sharon is a general surgeon at a hospital-based trauma/critical care/acute care practice in Baltimore. Born and raised in New York, she moved last year from New Orleans where she studied public health at Tulane University. She also worked with Doctors Without Borders last year at a project in West Africa. Sharon was able to perform an emergency appendectomy on one of the crew members assigned to the USS Kearsarge.

Hilary Warren, MD
Raised in Kansas City, Hilary works in a large pediatric practice in Boise, Idaho. After training in the Midwest, she participated on medical missions in Peru and Honduras. The youngest member of our team at 33, Hilary enjoys the many outdoor activities of Idaho, and keeps fit in the USS Kearsarge gym while on board.

Linda Rothery, FNP
Linda is a family nurse practitioner and is currently enrolled in the doctorate program at the University of Florida and is using her Project HOPE experience as an elective independent study course. A breast cancer survivor, she worked in post-Katrina clean-ups and was a volunteer at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece. She plans international mission work after graduation.

Maria Morris, RN, MPH
Maria, who grew up in New York, was a nurse educator at UC-Berkeley “many years ago”. Now she is a student at the University of Texas-Houston in the nurse practitioner program, and has worked in women’s health in the Middle East and in Venezuela. Her husband is a petroleum engineer currently stationed in Saudi Arabia, where Maria spends six months of the year. She and her husband have two sons. Maria makes one of a kind character dolls for fun and speaks fluent Spanish “thanks to my Puerto Rican parents.”

Nancy Foote, MD
Nancy is the Medical Director, Operations Manager, Chief Education Officer, and everything in between for the Project HOPE team. With her great energy and enthusiasm, she makes everything easier. A family physician, she currently resides in the Seattle area. Her areas of service include over two years in Zimbabwe with the American Friends Service Committee, working with the migrant workers of the Northwest, and most recently a position as a Spanish medical interpreter for the University of Washington Medical Center. She has two grown children.

Enrique Abreu, DO
Enrique is an anesthesiologist who belongs to a large private practice in Portland, Oregon. Of Cuban descent, Enrique has cousins in both Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. In the last three years, he has been on eight medical missions, mostly with ROTOPLAST, traveling to Venezuela, Mexico, and Brazil. He is a fluent Spanish speaker who enjoys taking photos with his Nikon, listening to a large variety of music, and at home, kiteboarding.

Lillian Sanpere, LM, CPM
Lillian has a birthing center in Tallahassee, FL where she takes care of pregnant women, births babies and trains new licensed midwives. Born in Miami, she was raised in the Caribbean. While on liberty in Puerto Rico, she was able to visit with her two sisters who she hadn’t seen for several years. Lillian is a strong person who after her last chemo treatment for colon cancer, made plans to walk the Camino de Santiago in the Pyrinnes Mountains in Spain. She walked nearly 400 miles and the following year, walked another part of the trail for over 500 miles.

Inga Kimple, BSJ
Inga is the Public Affairs Officer for the trip. Now residing near Cincinnati, she has lived in eight states and is a semi-retired journalist and freelance writer. When not writing, she spends a good deal of time in the Yucatan, working with the Maya, and in Ohio works with the Hispanic population and as an English as a Second Language tutor. She was on four post-Katrina trips in Mississippi. She also enjoys living near her family, especially her two young grandchildren.