October's Fall Break meant relaxation for some but not a group of eight junior nursing students who were providing healthcare to Haitian migrant sugar cane workers and their families in La Romana, Dominican Republic. The students traveled to care for those in the poorest areas (bateyes) of the Caribbean country along with two faculty: Tamara Kear, PhD, RN, assistant professor and Kimberly Connolly, MPH, RN, clinical assistant professor and director of the College's Center for Global and Public Health. The trip was part of their clinical practicum.
This was Dr. Kear’s third trip to La Romana, but the inaugural experience for Villanova’s College of Nursing. Support for this experience was provided to many students through the Connelly-Delouvrier International Scholars program.
La Romana is an industrial town on the southern coast of this developing nation and is surrounded by mountains and sugar cane plantations. Migrant workers and their families come from Haiti to harvest the sugar cane and seek a better way of life. Despite this quest for a better life and education for their children, these individuals have little to no access to healthcare.
While in the Dominican Republic, the healthcare provided to the Haitian people was coordinated through the Good Samaritan Hospital. Good Samaritan is local hospital that provides care to the underserved in the La Romana area and over 200 Haitian batey communities.
The junior nursing students were the nursing component of a healthcare team that included two physicians, a dentist, and six interpreters. Three days were spent delivering healthcare in the rural batey communities to 283 patients. This work included performing assessments; distributing medications; providing teaching on heat related illnesses, dental care, and hypertension; fitting people of all ages for reading glasses and sunglasses; and giving flip-flops to those who did not have shoes to wear.
"Through the guidance of Dr. Kear and Professor Connolly, our group developed a better understanding of poverty and international nursing while greatly improving our nursing skills. I now have an even greater passion for nursing, a newfound interest in pursuing international nursing, and an increased sense of dedication to serving those that are less fortunate. It was such a grounding week, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and to learn so much from such dedicated faculty members," says student Sarah Nicol from Albany, NY.