Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Project Hope Medical Volunteers See Patients in Dominican Republic

A team of 10 medical volunteers from Project HOPE contributed their time and skills in October, in the Dominican Republic, as part of Continuing Promise 2008. A humanitarian initiative with the US Navy and other humanitarian organizations providing health care and health education to communities in need in Latin America.

Temporary clinics were set up at several locations in the country, including in Dominican Republic Naval bases and sports complexes. Each morning, hundreds of people lined up, some before dawn, to be screened and treated. Dentists, ophthalmologists, and optometrists treated some people on site.

Other personnel included pediatricians, dermatologists, general surgeons, family practitioners, nurses and nurse practitioners, medical educators, a midwife, and for four-legged patients, veterinarians. Several of the HOPE volunteers were also fluent in Spanish, which greatly facilitated the treatments.

Project Hope volunteer Maria Morris, a nurse educator and current student in the University of Texas-Houston Nurse Practitioner program, had the opportunity to teach CPR to medical students at the Universidad Autonomo de Santo Domingo, the oldest university in the Americas. Speaking to about 100 students in the university physiology classes, plus an interested number of doctors, Maria was able to give the latest live-saving techniques, using both adult and infant dummies.

“Many had no experience in modern CPR so this was a good class for them. After giving them some basics, they practiced on the dummies for most of the time,” she said. “This is valuable knowledge that they could take away from the lesson. We did several scenarios, such as choking and being injured in a car accident. The students were so enthusiastic about learning; it made it fun for everyone.”

Licensed midwife Lillian Sanpere of Tallahassee, Florida counseled several pregnant women who came to the Bayaguana Sports Complex for treatment, about healthy eating and good prenatal care. “In general, they seem to be well-cared for and like most women, just want some added assurance or vitamins,” she said.

Because volunteers were living and at times working on the USS Kearsarge they had to quickly became accustomed to life aboard the a ship, including climbing steps and ladders to various levels, sleeping in narrow berths, and getting their ‘sea legs’, often during the choppy seas of hurricane season.

Linda Rothery, a family nurse practitioner, summed it up this way. “I never thought I would ever get to do something like this. I’m so glad I came. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”

-By Inga Kimple

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