Posted By: Dr. Mary Blair-Giscombe on February 12, 2013

Labels: Dominican Republic , Health Care Education, Health Systems Strengthening, Volunteers

I have been volunteering with Project HOPE to get a full experience in rural medicine in the Dominican Republic, and I have received just that! Each day has started with a morning devotion and prayer. One of the pediatricians and I see a variety of infections and diseases from morning until early afternoon. We also discuss the changes that are going on in medicine and issues with insurance and affordable health care. Dr. Teresa Manzueta has been supplying me with reading material on malaria, Dengue Fever and the Ministries Clinic Guidelines for common pediatric medicine. Not only have I learned a lot about health care in the country, but I have also been able to practice reading in Spanish. 

Dr. Mary Blair-Giscombe in the Dominican Republic

In the afternoons, I receive lessons on the 5 Star Program, which was established to improve infant morbidity and mortality.Sandra, one of the head nurses, quizzes me on the concept daily. The supervisors and staff members are extremely supportive, and I can tell that their hearts are in this clinic. It is evident that the “Five Star” concept is repeated during each visit for pregnant patients; constant reminders are on the walls of the clinic and each office.  

Child Dominican Republic

I have also been fortunate to participate in the community health program. I joined Miguel and Mariel on two visits so far to local communities that are less fortunate than most of the town. The community of Café Negro was interesting. The families have only a few children, and most are patients of the clinic. Shot records are up to date and the children appear healthy. We reiterated that it is important to provide clean water and healthy food for their children, to monitor standing water in order to prevent mosquito borne illness such as Dengue Fever and to come to the clinic at the first sign of illness. I was impressed at how open the families were to sharing their concerns and issues with us. I also appreciated how our guides included me and my husband in their patients’ care. 

Furthermore, I have learned new skills. I had wanted to learn how to draw blood for the past three years of residency, and I have finally had a chance. Sara, another one of the nurses, along with her esteemed colleague showed me how to draw blood and process labs on the spot. In the spirit of see one, do one, teach one and due to the busy practice, I have drawn several patients’ blood and even tried my hand at a few children. Sara has been extremely supportive and has helped me get over my fears quickly. 

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