September 9, 2013
Author: Amy Huang, UIC Med-Peds physician
In Guaymate, electricity for the entire municipal is rationed. Usually electricity goes off around 8am, and comes back some time in the evening. Certain days people can enjoy the luxury of uninterrupted power, but other days there is no guarantee that the electricity will be turned on before bedtime. Without electricity, there is also no running water (no power for water pumps), no TV, no radios, no way to charge your cells or laptops, and no refrigeration. Things we take for granted in the U.S. suddenly become unattainable.
As we sat eating dinner in the dark for the second straight night, our hostess Nelisa asked us what we have enjoyed the most about our trip. The repetitive answer that went around the table was the overwhelming warmth and spirit of the community. People are welcoming and motivated. They are full on energy. For me coming back to Guaymate again has been rejuvenating.
Today we visited the local public clinic in Los Cocos. We met with a doctor in her “pasantia” – a year of service after medical school and before residency. Again I was impressed by the infrastructure of the Dominican health system. The clinic provides prenatal care, well-child visits/vaccination problems, and HIV care. They keep records of residents of Los Cocos with chronic medical problems, and sends their health promoter to check on them if they do not follow-up regularly. The DR Health Ministry has set up this national pharmaceutical management system called SUGEMI, which provides free contraception and HAART to the registered patients.
With each day, we learn more and more about the Dominican health system, and our ideas for potential intervention keep expanding. As the team sat in the dark reflecting on our thoughts and strategize on upcoming meetings, I couldn’t help but to appreciate the simpler things in life: companionship and the sense of community.