Today was our first day of work, and it was both exhausting and exhilarating.
We began our day meeting with the Dominican students and nurses to organize teams and supplies. We received a very warm welcome from hospital administrators, the hospital director and a senator. The hospital director and senator both emphasized that they believe project such as this are what will improve the health of the community and, consequently, of the country. The hospital director also shared his hope with us that Hospital San Vicente will one day be internationally recognized as a research institution. It is truly inspiring to see the passion our hosts have for their community and country, and truly humbling to realize we are collaborating with them on such a significant project.
We divided into teams of 2-3 Dominican students, a Dominican nurse or medical resident, and 1-2 Emory students and spent the rest of the morning and afternoon in the surrounding neighborhoods visiting Kangaroo families. Some groups were more successful than others in tracking down families, but in total we managed to evaluate 30 Kangaroo babies today. The parents were extremely proud to show us their children, and understandably so—these babies, who participate in the program because they were born prematurely or with low birth weight, were almost all thriving and healthy!
Unfortunately, not all stories are complete successes. One group evaluated a baby who had had multiple complications, including hydrocephalus. Another group went to a house only to find that the baby had passed away at 2 months of age. These stories, along with the many positive outcomes, are what give the program both hope of success and reason to continue.
A few of our group also had the chance to tour the hospital this afternoon. Perhaps the most significant difference they noted between our hospitals at home and the hospital here was the lack of resources, particularly in the ICU. We take monitors and machines for granted, here they are a rarity. It’s interesting to remember that intensive care does not only mean intensive technology, but also (and importantly) intensive nursing attention.
Tomorrow is another busy work day in communities farther from the hospital. We can’t wait to see what it will bring.
Gracias, Catharine, Kathleen and the DR team