The team recently returned from their 3rd dental mission to Los Cacaos, Haiti.
I thought I would share a brief update and a few pics from our dental mission trip to Haiti and the DR February 20-29, 2020.
After a 20-hour journey, with team of four dentists and seven auxiliaries traveling from Wisconsin and Florida, we finally arrived at Sister Maria’s house in Pedro Santana around midnight on the first day.
Highlights of the travel day included a missed flight for half our team in Milwaukee, a near missed connection in Atlanta and an hour long standoff in customs in Santo Domingo. Customs officials in the DR were going to confiscate all of our medications and local anesthetic because we lacked proper documentation.
This would have effectively ended our mission work for this trip. Finally after much discussion, they allowed us to take them through, this one time. Only later, we found that it was because of a phone call placed by a high level government official to Sister Maria and her vouching for us that allowed safe passage with the needed medical supplies.
Arrival in Santo Domingo
Bus ride to Pedro Santana
After our travel day to Pedro Santana, we arrived at the Ag Center in Los Cacaos and worked to set up the clinic. We sorted supplies, set up equipment and tested the vacuum system, plumbing, and pressurized air needed to operate a “modern” dental clinic in this remote region of Haiti.
With new equipment shipped with the container and the portable dental unit we brought from the US, we were able to set up a clinic with five operational chairs.
Thanks to Jim Fitzgerald and his team for doing a great job setting up the week before. It helped get us a running start on the process.
Thanks also to the painting crew to allow us to "borrow” Ruth and Steve, top help with set up and crowd control during our clinic.
Sister Lydia and Sister Valenta were instrumental in screening, prioritizing and organizing patients to help us see the people who needed our services most. Many people were trucked in from remote villages over treacherous roads miles away from the Ag center in Los Cacaos.
Transportation to the Ag Center with the team
Working on the equipment setup
Djimison and Frantz setting up
Kevin and Dr Tom working on the suction pump
60 + People trucked in from Los Botados to see us at the clinic
Some of our team members took in the sights and shopping at the market in Banica. Dr. Paul and I and drove to Los Botados about 45 minutes away to look at the new community center and house. It was built by Jim Fitzgerald’s crew and painted by the “Tigers of the North” staying at Sister’s house during our clinic week.
Both the house and Community Centers were impressive structures and the family was very happy with the result. This three bedroom house that four multigenerational families will share was built for Oskarete(?) in appreciation for donating the land for the Center.
We hope to expand our reach and establish a remote dental clinic in future dental missions.
On the swing back home we were able to visit the local clinic in Los Cacaos and see the progress in the upgrades in the facility and more medications in the pharmacy. We got a tour from the Haitian doctor on duty, Dr. Prophlle Ecclesiaste, who is working to improve the health of people of that community.
The children with Mary Beth at Los Karete
Happy family in Los Botados
Inside the Community Center
The new residence for Oskaete’s family
The hospital in Los Cacaos
Haitian doctor, Dr. Ecclesiaste
The rest of the week was spent in clinic at the Ag Center where a team of four dentists, seven dental support members, three Haitian interpreters and two lay volunteers worked tirelessly in difficult conditions to see as many local people as humanly possible.
During the more than five clinic days, we were able to screen close to 400 patients, perform over 1,000 extractions of diseased teeth, put in dozens of fillings, and treat hundreds of teeth with fluoride applications.
The waiting area outside the Ag Center
The waiting area patients during screening
Dr Jamie and her patient
Dr Paul and MaryJo
Dr Tom and Laurie
Our fine interpreter Stevens with his fan club
Ilona and Ann compiling the stats
Alisen and Dr Chris
With an increase in the volunteer base and fundraising we hope to expand the clinic to two weeks next year with outreach to the smaller communities that have trouble reaching the main clinic in Los Cacaos.