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I had another brief brush with fame by being featured in Virginia Commonwealth University’s student newspaper.  Yippee!

We are in the early stages of setting up our next medical relief trip to Paraiso, in the Dominican Republic.  As noted above, the dates of the trip are from June 1-12, and will be in collaboration with medical and pharmacy students from Virginia Commomwealth University.

If you are interested in participating in this event and/or have any questions about it, please feel free to let me know.

If you are affiliated with academic programs (especially residency programs) and you think that this might be a good opportunity, I’d be very happy to discuss the project with you in more detail


The provider team returned yesterday and, speaking for myself, spent today catching up with sundry important tasks including mail and laundry.

The trip was very successful. I plan to post a summary/wrap-up soon.

So, with two clinics behind us, we have a better sense of how the project is going. The team has come together very well, with the SOMOS students stepping up and working hard to expand the services we provide, the providers working hard, and our pharmacy student, Deborah, coordinating and running a pharmacy that 2 days ago was a jumble of pills and bottles in our luggage. It is always amazing how quickly these teams come together, how the sense of mutual support develops, and how everyone works hard to provide care to our patients.

More housecalls today, and we found a few patients with newly-diagnosed chronic illnesses and were able to set them up with treatment.

Meanwhile, the community development project is working to analyze the results of the community meeting two days ago, and is working to develop the first step toward a meaningful project.

Overall, solid progress in these first few days. Tomorrow, a Dominican doctor (who worked with us in June) will be joining us and will allow us to see more patients in the clinic while continuing the housecalls. Margo, the nurse practitioner who is joining us on the trip for the first time, will be heading up the housecall team–we have a list of patients to be seen based on the results of the conversations with patients today.

Today’s clinic went well. We were able to set up the pharmacy and clinic space from scratch and still see around 115 patients. We are also had time in the afternoon to get down to Esfuerzo and provide housecalls for 5 patients with chronic illnesses who were not able to make it up to the clinic.

Tomorrow will still be a busy day: we still need to secure some meds (and replace some we have started to use up) while still accommodating the clinic and housecalls. We hope to have a Dominican doctor working with us, though, which will allow us to see a few more patients.

The community meeting yesterday went well, and we have a better idea of what this year’s work and project will involve.

We will be on the bus in about 30 minutes to head out for the first real day of work.

Yesterday started early for the team–most of us had early flights out of the US to the DR and were on the road (or in the air) for much of the day. Fortunately, the flights were largely uneventful, and we made it to Santo Domingo with all travelers and luggage safe.

We were met at the airport by Wallace Chavez, the president of the local government association (the Associación de Juntas de Vecinos) and one of his colleagues. Wallace has been a tremendous supporter of the work that we have been doing over the last 5 years, and he arranged the transportation to get us from the airport to the hotel.

After arriving and eating, we started counting pills. The entire team, from providers and professors to undergrads, jumped right in and finished the counting within 3 hours or so. More than 21,000 vitamins, along with naproxen, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Claritin and stomach medicines were pre-counted into ziplocks (complete with labels) in order to make the pharmacy process as smooth as possible on the day the clinic starts.

We are in good shape for medicines, though we do need to get some local meds such as the anti-parasite medications we use to prevent illness in the community. The hope is to secure those meds before the clinic actually starts.

The group turned in a little after midnight, and slept well. This morning, the SOMOS undergrads are going over the plans for a community meeting this afternoon and reviewing the protocol for working with the community this year.

This afternoon, we’ll go out to Paraiso with the undergrads and have a chance to walk through the community in order to get a sense of the community’s organization as well as the challenges and obstacles to health within the community. As DASV providers, we will also be listening in to the community meeting. It appears that this year might be the chance to start putting into action a community-based plan to improve health status in the sub-barrio of Esfuerzo.

Tomorrow is the first day of the clinical work, so we will be back in Paraiso bright and early tomorrow.

Don’t forget: if interested in following us during this medical trip, you can look us up on Twitter (DominicanAidSoc) or on Facebook (Dominican Aid Society of Virginia group). Follow along!

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