After researching and meeting with several communities, Community Empowerment began working in Villa Verde, a community on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Villa Verde has strong community leaders, whose dedication to their town drew in CE.
“The people of Villa Verde have fought hard to make their community healthier,” said Jacqueline Langman, Program Manager for Rush Global Health. “They brought public education to their children. They spent night after night digging and constructing their own piping to bring running water to the community, all while continuing to work their normal day jobs. Despite their relentless spirit, they continue to face barriers. For example, they have had 25 recorded cases of malaria within the last year, and this is in a region where malaria was thought to be completely eradicated.”
Our first primary care trip was completed in fall of 2018. Over 850 patients were seen. Consistent, quality and affordable healthcare is sparse. In many instances, patients have been unable to pay for their medication.
“CE will be able to provide more stable relationship between the community members and healthcare providers” said Jessica Vlaming, Director of Clinical Education, Rush Physician Assistant Program. “While there is an occasional mobile clinic that comes to Villa Verde, they desperately need regular access to healthcare, more health education and counseling, and the opportunity to receive better continuity of care.”
The patients were typically families with a wide variety of diagnoses, from abdominal pain and dermatologic conditions to hypertension, diabetes, and congenital disorders. In 2019, CE plans to work with community leaders to finalize objectives and goals for the clinic. There is a need for additional services, such as dental, optometry and mental health. Furthermore, the community is without clean water. The rampant malaria is a result of standing water. CE is working with the community leaders and government to resolve the water issue and assess future needs.
Vlaming, who was on the first trip, noted how the new community leaders worked to make sure the clinic run smoothly:
“Our partners from Peralta worked closely with the Villa Verde leaders to efficiently run a clinic. They did a fantastic job of directing flow and making sure that we could see as many patients as possible, while also keeping an eye on our team. They clearly knew the other community members very well and were instrumental in helping out with patients who were more acute or had disabilities. On our last day, I had a long discussion with one of the community leaders to debrief on the previous week. She said they felt that they really felt heard, and received so much education, which is not common for the sporadic and rushed medical care they typically receive.”
CE looks forward to growing and expanding its relationship with Villa Verde. Stay tuned for more updates in 2019.