WOW! What an amazing opportunity that completely opened my eyes, and changed the way I view everything.
There were nine members of the group that traveled there. We had 2 MD's, 2 Dentists, 3 RN's, and 2 extras -I was an extra! (: Because I have aspirations of going to dental school, this was a great opportunity to get some hands on experience all while being helpful too! What made the trip even more fun, was that my mom was able to come too! Our group consisted of a brother and sister, father and son, husband and wife, and mother and daughter! Fun Fun!
Solid Rock International is a Christian non-profit organization that focuses on transforming the body, mind and soul of the poor Dominicans. Based out of San Juan, they are the only Solid Rock International location. There are several different types of missions teams that they host at the compound. They consist of Construction, General Medical, Surgical, and Vacation Bible School/Children's Sports Camp. Our team was designed for a medical missions trip. Because many Dominicans do not have much access to healthcare, or do not have the means to be able to afford basic healthcare and medications, SRI tries to send teams out to the barrios, where we provide them with outpatient medical care.
(Our group, plus some of the translators, and some from the surgical team)
Solid Rock International also has it's own clinic (Christian Clinic for Integrated Health) and pharmacy, where volunteers are able to send medical donations, as well as travel there to perform surgeries. While we were there, there was another surgical team there as well. They consisted of 1 ENT surgeon, and 1 Plastics surgeon. They were also accompanied by several nurse anesthetists and nursing students. I think after 4 DAYS of 9-5/6 work, the ENT had performed 40+ surgeries, and the plastics had performed around 30! WOW!! I had the amazing opportunity to watch a Tonsillectomy, which was so neat, and Dr. Frank was so informative while performing the surgery, and made sure I could see everything and knew what he was doing.
While in the barrios, we traveled to four different locations during the four day span; Los Alejos, Rancho La Guardia, Corozal/Yabonico, and Santa Cruz de Banica. We would pack all of our medical supplies into a trailer, and we would all travel in a bus to one of those locations. They could be anywhere from 1 hour to 2.5 hours away. When we arrived, everyone was so helpful in getting us set up, and we were usually located in a community building or school. Shade! (:
Every doctor had a translator, and we had a triage set up at the front, where the the patients' treatments were determined, as well as weight and blood pressure. The MD's were able to assess any issues and would prescribe them necessary treatments. If a patient had a dental problem, that is when they would come to us! Dr. Stan and Dr. Alex (father and son) are both dentists, and great ones at that! They thoroughly explained everything that they did, and let me help extract some teeth here and there! Overall, I think we were able to extract a little over 120 teeth! We saw a lot of rotted teeth, cavities, infections, and just root tips that needed extracted. It is very interesting how the mindset is so different in the DR than it is in the states. In the States, our mindset is to do everything possible to preserve the tooth, whether it be a filling or a crown. However, in the DR, preserving the tooth is not so much a priority as having it extracted and not having to deal with it anymore. Even if it is tooth # 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11. They seriously are the best patients ever, and would just sit there while we injected them with lidocaine, and yanked and pulled their teeth out. Some patients wanted to see all of their teeth extracted so that they may perhaps get dentures, or to simply just ease the pain of an unfortunate toothache. One patient that we had was a 13 year old girl who had put black nail polish on the top of one of her molars to attempt to help a cavity. Everyday was filled with a new and great experience! Our translators were great, the patients were amazing, and the missionaries that we stayed with were so nice!
(Some of the dental group and translators)
(The location of one of our clinics)
(One of the clinics that we set up)
(Cows in the middle of the road, no big deal)
(Getting the amazing opportunity to help extract teeth)
(My wonderful mom working in Triage)
When we weren't out in the barrios, we were able to play baseball with the Dominicans (who are really, REALLY good), we went out to eat at a restaurant, visited the school that SRI built, visited the market, and visited the new grounds for the new CLINIC!! That's right, a new clinic! Solid Rock International is working on raising money and constructing a new clinic that will be the center for medical treatment for residents in and around San Juan. That way residents will not have to travel all the way to the capital (Santo Domingo) to receive treatment. They already have the plot of and, and are working very hard to get this project started either this or next summer!
If you are interested in helping make a contribution towards the construction of the new clinic, this is the link. It may have you create an account.
I just really, really wanted to share my experience and was a life changing experience it was. Everyone in the group that I went with was so, so nice, and I can totally see myself doing another trip like this again!! If you have any questions about it, or would like to get involved just comment and I can help you out!