Project World Health recognized for 15 years of service to people of Jarabacoa

Project World Health  recently returned from its 15th annual medical mission trip to Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, where USF Health medical student, faculty and community volunteers were recognized for their longstanding service to the underserved rural region.

This year, a team of more than 70 volunteers provided primary care and health education to 2,000 children and adults at 12 clinic sites. This included medical evaluations, medications, fluoride treatments, hygiene products, vitamins, and more.

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Third-year USF Health medical student Michael Cameron and friend

Most of the volunteers came from the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, including medical students across all four years and faculty members from the departments of Family Medicine and Internal Medicine, and from the College of Pharmacy. They were joined by several residents from the Bayfront Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program and from USF’s Med-Peds and Internal Medicine Residency programs, as well as physicians, nurses and pharmacists from the Tampa Bay community.

Over the last 15 years, Project World Health has expanded its services in Jarabacoa and the surrounding regions, offering continuity of care for patients and a sense of follow-up for students. Students have built upon established sustainability initiatives, including an initiative to provide reading glasses to the locals and community-based needs assessments.  They have met with community leaders, such as the dean at a local medical school in the region last year and the governor of the province of La Vega this year, to increase cooperation.

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Med 1 students Alexander Guillame and Shaara Argo administer flouride treatments to children at one of the rural clinic sites.

Collaborating with a physician-established foundation in Jarabacoa, Project World Health has compiled data from the group’s visits over many years to assist with sustainability efforts. Two students developed a medical electronic data system, called MEDS, which streamlined the data collection process and is expected to help the volunteers better serve the large volume of patients.

This year, Project World Health was formally recognized by the largest clinic in Jarabacoa and the local government, for the organization’s 15-year commitment to the rural villages served.  Several volunteers received certificates for five or more consecutive years of participation in the mission; some who started as USF medical students now practice as physicians in the Tampa Bay area.

Individuals receiving certificates were Dr. Jose Colon, Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez, Dr. Ty Jeske, Dr. Daniel Eckstein, Dr. Tony Ombogo, Dr. Daniel Matta, Amanda Pennington Ph.D., Robbie Brauner RN, and Linda Kitko RN.  In addition, a certificate was presented to the USF Morsani College of Medicine. for continuous dedicated service to the people of Jarabacoa.

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The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine is recognized for Project World Health’s 15 years of dedicated service to the people of Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. L to R: Dr. Jose Barboza, Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez, Dr. Hugo Navarte, Dr. Jose Colon, Dr. Juan Dumois and Dr. Gwendolyn Wantuch.

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Med 1 students, clockwise: Kathyrn Kass, Cady Welch and Tess Chase with a family from the village.

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Senior medical student Aly Strauss examines a girl’s eyes.

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Third-year medical student Jason Ricciuti poses with some friends.

Reporting by USF Health medical student Andres Santayana, MS, Project World Health co-president.