USF Health faculty, students team up to give medical care in Haiti

More than 2,200 patients in a small village in Haiti benefited from a two-week visit by USF Health faculty, students and resident physicians as part of a medical mission trip sponsored by Corpus Christi Catholic Church of Temple Terrace.

Haiti 2016 group shot RSS

Front row, Dr. Bryan Bognar, Lisa Martínez Booth, Annie Hendrix ; back row, Julissa Jimenez, Dr. Javier Cuevas, Olivia Booth, and Mary Kay Foody.

A team of about a dozen from USF Health offered medical care and water-quality research to residents in and around Dilaire, Haiti. Providers included physicians, medical students, public health students, pharmacists, EMT techs, nurses and additional non-medical support personnel.

“The trip was very impactful,” said Javier Cuevas, PhD, professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology and associate professor in the College of Pharmacy.

“The first week involved testing water of local wells and treating 52 patients with chronic conditions including hypertension, diabetes and seizure disorders, among other conditions. Patients were given medication and we followed up with them in the second week to determine effectiveness of therapy. We also provided education on skin infections and Zika virus infections to the local health team so they could, in turn, educate the general public and all patients coming to clinic in the second week.”

Haiti 2016 second group shot RSS

From left, Dr. Joao Fontoura, Dr. Richard Roetzheim, Julissa Jimenez, Dr. Chris Richardson, Dr. Pamela Noel, Dr. Waldo Guerrero, and Dr. Javier Cuevas.

The second week was much more clinic-focused, he said, and the group saw 2,213 patients. They also provided education classes on skin infections to all patients as part of our ongoing education program for the town.

While most patients were able to be treated on-site, one needed more specialized care, Dr. Cuevas said.

“We transported one critically ill 1-month-old child to hospital,” he said. “Dr. (Christopher) Richardson travelled with our driver and the family to the hospital along with a nurse due to deteriorating condition of the child. The child was denied admission into the first hospital but was treated in a second hospital.  The latest update we have suggests the child is doing better.”

In total, across the two weeks, the teams provided the following:

  • Patient assessment and doctor visit
  • Minor surgical procedures (wound care, tumor/cyst removal, etc)
  • Laboratory testing including, pregnancy, blood glucose, urine dip-stick, HIV, hemoglobin and iStat for blood electrolytes and kidney function
  • Nebulizer treatments
  • IV fluids and IV antibiotics
  • Injectable antibiotics
  • Full pharmacy
  • Adjustment of drug treatment regimen for patients with chronic conditions seen during week 1
  • Glaucoma testing
  • Two research projects: 1) examining response rates to different anti-hypertensives in this population and 2) examining response rates to treatments for skin conditions (focus on tinea and scabies)

Much of this trip was supported by Chuck Sykes and Sykes Enterprises, which purchased nearly all of the medicines for this mission, Dr. Cuevas said.

Medical mission volunteers from USF Health included:

MCOM students: Julissa Jimenez (MS3); Annie Hendrix (MS1);

MCOM faculty: Bryan Bognar, MD (Internal Medicine); Javier Cuevas, PhD (Pharmacology and Physiology); Richard Roetzheim, MD (Family Medicine); Waldo Guerrero, MD (Neurology);

MCOM residents/fellows: Christopher Richardson, MD (Med-Peds); and Joao Fontoura, MD (Med-Peds).

In addition, Dr. Pamela Noel, an alum of the USF Health residency program (Infectious Diseases), provided care, and Olivia Booth, a master’s student in public health student from George Washington University, conducted the well water analysis as part of the USF College of Public Health project under Dr. Tom Mason.

A smaller team will return to Haiti in September to see an estimated 100 patients with chronic conditions, and a larger team will travel in March 2017. If you would like to volunteer for either of these, please contact Dr. Javier Cuevas at

Haiti 2016 testing well water RSS

Olivia Booth test the water quality of a local well.

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USF medical students Julissa Jimenez and Annie Hendrix examining a patient for aortic stenosis.

Haiti 2016 Julissa with asthma child RSS

Third-year medical student Julissa Jimenez helps a child with asthma.

Haiti 2016 Richardson, Fontoura RSS

Drs. Christopher Richardson and Joao Fontoura prepare med packets for week two clinic.

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Dr. Waldo Guerrero between patients during week two clinic.

Haiti 2016 Roetzheim and Julissa RSS

Dr. Richard Roetzheim and Julissa Jimenez with young patient during week two clinic.

Haiti 2016 Richardson giving IV RSS

Dr. Christopher Richardson starts an IV on child with pneumonia.

Haiti 2016 Julissa training health team RSS

Julissa Jimenez presents information on skin infections and Zika to a local health team.

Photos courtesy of the Medical Mission Team.