Costanza, Dominican Republic Eye Care Mission Report May 17-23, 2014
This was my third trip to Constanza in the beautiful North Western mountains of the Dominican Republic. I accompanied a Medical team from the South Shore Hospital, South Weymouth, Mass, which included three medical doctors, a Pediatric nurse practitioner, nurses, assistants as well as in-country Peace Corp volunteers. As the only optometrist, I was fortunate to have the help of optometric technician and aspiring OD, Matt Bruns.
We were officially welcomed at the Sunday morning Church Service, followed by the perfunctory Sunday tour of The Constanza Hospital.The Hospital appears to be better equipped and more efficiently run than on previous visits. The improvements in care at the hospital are quite tangible, as a result of recent equipment donations and upgrades. Accommodations were comfortable as always at the “ Hotel Constanza” and we were well fed for the duration of the trip by the Sisters at the local Convent.
We held clinics over four days in the outlying villages and districts. The clinics were set up in such a way, that patients were first triaged and then directed to the appropriate medical station. There was a high demand for eye care as expected. A second OD would have made a significant difference to the total number of patients who needed eye examinations.
I examined a total of 165 patients over 4 days of clinics. We dispensed 139 pairs of plus prescriptions, 15 minus prescriptions and numerous sunglasses. 10 pairs of high minus astigmatic glasses and bifocals will be made up by my lens lab and shipped down to Constanza. One surprising anecdote on this trip was that the vast majority of astigmatic refractive errors were against the rule.
Pathologies encountered on this trip included glaucoma, chemically scarred corneas ( primarily from insecticide exposure), cataracts, pterygia, keratoconus, and foreign bodies. I have 12 patients from this trip who along with 35 others from previous missions who are awaiting cataract extractions. We are anticipating that an ophthalmologist will be going down to the area in January 2015 to perform the necessary surgeries.
All in all it was another productive mission. The trip would be better served by more than one OD and hopefully, this can be addressed on future trips. I look forward to the Ophthalmologist taking care of our awaiting cataract patients in January.
Derek Feifke ODBurlington MA