As we started our second day journey in the Dominican Republic, we had an enlightening experience at a local private hospital. Dr. Daniela Mayer, a physician in emergency medicine and the director of the facility, took time out of her busy day to guide us around the clinic and explain the Dominican Republic’s healthcare system. Dr. Mayer is not a native to the Dominican Republic but has been in the clinic for 10 years and is very familiar with the system along with the American healthcare system. The Dominicans have free healthcare in the public hospital setting but require insurance or must be able to pay the fee for service in a private hospital for non-emergency services.
Although the term “free healthcare” strikes as a benefit to the Dominican people, it does not go without sacrifice. The public sector can only provide services for what is purchased for the local people. This can be a disadvantage medically to the local uninsured population, who are unable to pay for services, because if supplies are not available, then proper treatment is compromised for ill patients. We were astounded by the stories and roles of healthcare workers in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Mayer was more than willing and ready to answer our questions. She was free-spirited and elaborated on issues of our concern in a non-judging demeanor. Even more so, as the majority of us are nursing students, we were impressed by the doctor-patient care.
Our day continued on to a delicious lunch served at a local restaurant named Coma en Familia. They served a variety of foods that included fried chicken, Cajun chicken, beef, rice, beans and salad. As lunch wrapped up we set out for the afternoon time at Dove Missions for the children.
BINGO! With only two hours in the afternoon, we made the decision to play Spanish/English Nutrition Bingo with the kids. Most of them were girls and their ages ranged from six to 12 years. The children were so excited to play bingo with flat white beans as their place markers. The game became competitive, and the excitement grew as voices rose, shouting “Bingo!” Needless to say, some were just yelling “bingo” for fun. The idea to give t-shirts (donated from Barton College) as prizes for the winners came from their very own teacher, Teresa. She is patient, helps coordinates the activities for the children, and supports us in our planned activities.
The day came to an end at the Center. However, more fun awaits as we take on a full day tomorrow with outdoor sports and relays!
By Gloria Casarez, Nursing Major/Gerontology Minor and Rachel Kennedy, Nursing Major/Honors Minor
(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.)