San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic

SanJuan dela-MaguanaIn four previous field programs to the Dominican Republic and San Juan de la Maguana (1998, 1999, 2000, and 2002), VHI accomplished 1,444 eye exams, 1,099 eyeglass fittings, and 467 surgeries.

VHI’s efforts in San Juan de la Maguana in 2014 entailed two separate but related trips. The first involved pre-screening patients for cataract surgery, vision screenings, and 100-150 prescription eyeglass fittings conducted at several locations in the rural districts outside of the city. VHI volunteers, including 2-3 ophthalmologists, 2 nurses, 2-3 in vision screening and optics, and 2 translators comprised the team for the January program. The second program accomplished between 125-150 adult cataract surgeries and was staffed by 15-20 volunteers.

San Juan de la Maguana is the capital of San Juan province in the western region of the Dominican Republic, and despite the fact it is the 10th most populated city in the country, a large percentage of its inhabitants are impoverished and lack reliable and affordable health care. Vision health care is almost non-existent for the poorest of the region’s poor families.

VHI staged its 2014 field programs at the regional public health hospital, Alejandro Cabral, in San Juan de la Magauna, and will once again partner with the Diocese of Orlando, Florida and Sister Bernadette Mackay, who requested VHI travel to the Dominican Republic and provide vision health care and surgery to the region’s medically underserved. “Sister Bernie,” as she is affectionately called, provides basic but limited health care services at the hospital (most significant illnesses are referred to doctors in Santo Domingo), and due to a lack of resources and staff, VHI brought a team of ophthalmologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, and operating room personnel, medical supplies and surgical and diagnostic equipment for the surgery program. Dr. LaPaix, a public health ophthalmologist from San Juan de la Maguana, provided post-operative care.

The logistical planning—including recruitment of personnel, shipment of supplies and equipment (a good percentage of which has already been accomplished), and coordination with in-country facilities for lodging and meals—was completed. VHI follows a well-established protocol when planning and implementing its annual field programs, thus providing its volunteers, as well as its donors, the knowledge each field program will be conducted in a safe and sanitary environment, optimally conducive to the achievement of successful clinical and surgical outcomes.

Scheduled trips to San Juan de la Manguana (2016–dates to be determined):

  • Surgical Screening
  • Cataract Surgery Program

Trip dates are subject to change.