DR Salud Health Outreach Trip Provides Access to Care in the DR

3This past March, medical, pharmacy, and physician assistant students from University of Florida College of Medicine (UF) had the privilege to participate in the DR Salud Health Outreach Trip in the Dominican Republic, providing access to care to the underserved population. DR Salud is an interdisciplinary medical service trip that aspires to provide UF students with an opportunity to obtain a truly global perspective on health and medicine. Through our affiliation with Dominican medical students in San Francisco de Macoris, we held four full-day clinics and one half-day clinic in a rural mountainous and suburban communities. We also toured a local public hospital to better understand the state of the country’s health care. Together, we provided not only wellness and prevention services but also much needed medicines, public health and hygiene resources; half of which were pediatric. Each clinic held six stations: adult medicine, ob/gyn, pediatrics, surgery, public and pharmacy. This upcoming year, DR Salud has decided to try and add a dentistry station after identifying a need for oral hygiene care during this trip. At each station, UF medical students worked closely with the patients to conduct histories and physical exams before presenting on their patients. Though Spanish fluency is beneficial, every station had a bilingual Dominican medical student acting as a translator to facilitate communication.

2One of the most common issues we saw was severe lack of dental hygiene, especially in pediatric patients, to whom we applied fluoride varnish treatments. We would not have been able to serve these patients without the help of The Henry Schein Cares Foundation (HSCF), who generously provided us with health care kits full of medical equipment such as ear speculums, tongue blades, lancets, hand sanitizer, glucose meter strips, urinalysis strips and more. Because of these health care kits, we were able to supply the proper care for the immediate needs of several hundred Dominicans. Our biggest impact from HSCF took place at our elementary school clinic. We served several hundred children from an urban city in the Dominican Republic. Those hundreds of children were each given a yearly dental wellness exam, as well as much needed fluoride varnish treatments, dental care education, and supplies like toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Over the course of the trip we helped roughly 1,200 patients which included 600 children, 100 adult males, and 500 adult females spanning a wide range of ages, socioeconomic statuses and medical conditions. Though the sheer volume of patients we saw helped us develop an appreciation for normal physiology (as we practiced listening to heart sounds, listening to lung sounds and performing abdominal and HEENT exams), we were also able to experience unusual pathologies, such as a large hemangioma on a young boy, a case of Charcot’s foot on a diabetic woman, and several types of lesions and rashes we had only previously read about in textbooks. Other common conditions included parasites, diabetes, a variety of skin rashes and sexually transmitted infections. Patients without particular conditions mostly sought vitamins and general health counseling, which we provided to all patients.