By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President
April 27, 2023, is World Health Day and the 75th anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). In 1948, many countries of the world came together and founded WHO to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable populations so everyone, everywhere could attain the highest level of health and well-being.
Despite significant advancements in healthcare delivery and outcomes since the founding of WHO, many countries and communities, like San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic, continue to struggle to provide quality primary care due to the lack of adequate health care infrastructure.
San Juan de la Maguana is a small town located in the mountains, almost 240 miles west of Santo Domingo. With a rural population of more than 40%, San Juan’s economy is powered by agriculture and livestock, and is considered the island’s “Granary of the South”.
For an average person from this area, something as simple as monitoring their insulin levels or blood cholesterol can turn out to be a major challenge. Patients have to drive more than 40 minutes to one of the two hospitals which have the capacity to analyze medical samples. And river flooding frequently prevents access back to the hospital to pick up results. A simple task for those who live in urban areas ends up becoming life-threatening for those who live in isolated, rural areas of the island, especially for the elderly, pregnant women and people with reduced mobility who need to monitor their health periodically.
For this reason and more, one of MedShare’s partners, Solid Rock International (SRI), founded The Christian Clinic for Integral Health. The clinic exists to provide people who live in the San Juan community with general health care, including surgery and dental care. Many SRI medical teams work in the clinic to provide specialty surgeries that are not normally available. The main objective is to provide quality health care to all in need, including discounted or even free services to those unable to pay full cost. Solid Rock International additionally supports a second clinic in the town of El Cercado, which serves as home base for the Child Nutrition Program.
In 1998, The Christian Clinic for Integral Health in San Juan de la Maguana faced disastrous flooding from Hurricane George. The entire clinic was covered by over five feet of water and mud that severely damaged the structure and surrounding property.
As a result, the clinic sits on an uninhabitable flood plain with a high risk of future flooding, has maintenance issues beyond repair including a leaky roof, mold growth, and a buckled floor. Additionally, it does not comply with government standards and is at risk of being shut down at any time in spite of being desperately needed to provide care for the community.
In 2014, in cooperation with Dominican non-profit partner ACPSI (The Christian Association for the Promotion of Integral Health), SRI decided to construct a new non-profit hospital that will fulfill the original vision of serving the poorest of the poor while providing opportunities to expand available services to the southwestern region of the Dominican Republic.
Beginning in 2019, MedShare was honored to work with SRI on the construction of the new hospital by providing:
Consultation: SRI initiated discussions with MedShare to validate plans and seek advice on design and procurement of equipment.
Hospital Design: MedShare sent its Director of Biomedical Engineering & Technical Services to the Dominican Republic to conduct a pre-assessment, further refine our scope of work, and advise on hospital design, layout, equipment, and utility requirements.
Equipment/Supply Donations: MedShare has provided over a half of million dollars of state-of-the-art equipment and supplies for the new hospital, including beds, exam tables, operating room tables and furniture. MedShare’s commitment ensured that the clinic received the most up-to-date equipment and will provide training on the proper use and maintenance of the equipment once the hospital is fully operational.
The new facility is a 56-bed, 46,000 ft2 clinic projected to provide over 100,000 patients services annually with close to 40 specialty surgeries. The hospital is planning to offer new services, with some of them becoming available to the San Juan community for the very first time. Some of these new services include:
- Ambulance Services Blood Bank Emergency Care
- Emergency Obstetrics Endocrinology Gastroenterology
- Intensive Care Neonatal Intensive Care Ophthalmology
- Orthodontics Orthopedics Physical Therapy
- Radiology Urology
Access to medical care is something that can be easily taken for granted. In the Dominican Republic, good healthcare is not only difficult to find, but it is more often than not denied to the poor. Seeing this facility first-hand and the joy of the people in this community only reinforced my belief that quality healthcare should not be a choice, but a basic human right. I look forward to returning once the clinic is fully operational and bring others with me to view this “miracle” for this community.