Our last day here in Puerto Plata was very eventful. We started off by going to to a local private clinic/hospital. A doctor kindly showed us around to all parts of the hospital. Surprisingly, it was very well-kept and clean. It was in much better condition than the public hospital. The reason being is because you must have insurance to get medical attention here – hence better doctors, better conditions, etc. Mrs. Ruwe asked the doctor what the impacts and complications from chronic diseases are in the Dominican Republic. The doctor explained that many people suffer from diabetes and heart disease. It is very hard for them to continue to take medications because of the prices.
Next, we took the van with Martina to the second part of the barrios. Much like the other one, there were beaches full of trash, sewage throughout the street, and no running water. It was a very sad experience to see so many people living in that condition. There were happy children running around waving and wanting to play with us! They kept yelling how the “gringas” were here to see them. Everyone we walked by smiled and waved. They were so happy for us to take pictures of them. I never saw any toys that the kids were playing with. The only thing we saw was a little boy who found an old baseball bat and was hitting rocks for something to do.
After saying our goodbyes to all the children at Dove Missions, we took a trip to the local public hospital. Their hospitals are nothing like what you would expect to see in the United States. Starting from the outside, it is less than appealing. On the inside, people share one single room with about 11 other people all sick with different illnesses. It is not always possible to isolate patients with infectious diseases.
Right now, the hospital has 124 beds and the government is reducing it to 45 beds throughout the entire hospital. The pediatric unit is funded differently so they get somewhat more help than the adult ward. In the hospital, you don’t see any hand sanitizer, bathrooms, or even sinks for hand washing. There is also no running water, air conditioning, monitors, or working ventilators. The Emergency Room was moved to what used to be a hallway.
Since resources are so low, each family must bring sheets, clothing, and food for the patient. The hospital must also determine who to give IV fluids and oxygen to based on their need of care. Each patient must have a family member to help care for them. Due to the lack of space in the maternity ward, after delivery the patient is only allowed 24 hours of recovery in a hospital room. When asking a doctor what their greatest need in the hospital, she couldn’t say one specific need because there is a need for so many different items. She also mentioned how the hospital may often go weekends providing care without any gloves.
To end our day on a positive note, we took a trip up the mountain on the cable cars to see the city from up above. We then took a stop to get last minute souvenirs at the local store. We ended our evening going out to eat at a beach side restaurant and celebrated our driver Juan’s birthday!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JUAN!
By Ali Greene and Natalie Rabil
(Follow the experiences of our students as they have been serving in the Dominican Republic during spring break. Visit the blog at the Barton College School of Nursing.)