Tuesday, February 26, 2013

MACLA Medical Mission Part 2

The first day of the MACLA mission was a short one. We each picked out two sets of scrubs (to which I whimsically referred for the duration of the week as, “fancy doctor outfits”) and spent some time to getting to know the medical team and the facilities. The portion of the hospital we were to occupy consisted of five operating tables in three different rooms as well as a recovery room with four beds and two additional rooms containing eleven beds where patients were prepared for surgery and seen by doctors and physical therapist when they finished.

Fellow volunteers Alyson and Dustin

After our orientation, a group of MACLA people informed us that they were heading to Juan Dolio, a public beach on the south coast about half an hour east of the capital. Having never been before, I seized the opportunity, and soon found myself eating lunch there with a group that included a handful of other volunteers along with Katrina, a resident at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Danielle, a fourth-year medical student, and Kevin, a GIS specialist whose dad founded and runs MACLA.

Volunteers Dana and Jose with medical student Danielle

Despite the restaurant’s awful food and trademark Dominican service (we couldn’t get anyone to even acknowledge us once we’d been served), it was nice to be at the beach and get to know each other. I hadn’t had much opportunity to hang out with volunteers who have gotten here since I arrived in the country. I was also excited to learn more about our visitors from MACLA. While we ate, a group of about ten more of them arrived and went straight to the beach.

Occupational therapist Eileen with volunteer Ashley

The rest of the afternoon we spent lounging on the beach and dipping in the sea. Unbelievably, we were hassled over and over for bringing our own rum and coke and even forced to dump out some ice that somebody went and bought at the nearest convenient store about 20-minute walk away. I tried to imagine the same scenario playing out amongst Dominicans at any other beach without resulting in fisticuffs. It was impossible. I resolved to never again visit that particular beach.

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