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

1 comment: