Group of volunteers on the AdventHealth Global Missions trip to the Dominican Republic, Feb. 10-18, 2020, donned t-shirts with the words love, joy and peace, three key spiritual indicators from Galatians 5:22-23.

February 25, 2020 | Altamonte Springs, Florida, United States | Ingrid Hernández, AdventHealth News

A team of AdventHealth Global Missions volunteers traveled to the Dominican Republic last month to provide primary care services to about 2,000 patients. Medical school graduates from two residency programs were among the group: family medicine residents from AdventHealth Winter Park and DO (Doctor of Osteopathic) family medicine residents from AdventHealth East Orlando.

“Family medicine is a specialty that has a wide scope of practice, but more importantly, it’s a specialty that can adapt to communities’ needs,” said Alexander Fishberg, MD, associate program director for the AdventHealth Winter Park Family Medicine Residency. “More than many other specialties, family medicine works in rural and underserved communities. Mission trips are important in their own right, but they also allow us to show that, if you care, you can make a difference anywhere.”

Mission trips are not a requirement for AdventHealth’s family medicine residents but are sought after, nonetheless.

Team member Aby smiles as she holds two young girls inside a Seventh-day Adventist church in the Dominican Republic during the AdventHealth Global Missions trip to provide primary health care to residents in February 2020. [Photo: AdventHealth News]

“These trips are influential in creating the next wave of physicians that are mission-minded,” said Shelby Houmann, communications specialist and event coordinator for AdventHealth Global Missions. “That’s not something that is easy to teach.”

More than 20 volunteers total participated in the Feb. 10-18, 2020, trip. They included eight family medicine doctors, four in training and four attending, in addition to nurses, pharmacists, project managers and leaders. The team volunteered in the community in and outside of the capital of Santo Domingo, including the town of Samaná which is in the northeastern part of the country.

Joshua Smit, MD, and Bianca Stewart, MD, both second-year family medicine residents, learned about the mission trip through Dr. Fishberg. They spent their time in the Dominican Republic triaging and assisting patients, and offering medical treatment or suggestions for additional medical care within the local infrastructure. Stewart said she appreciated the opportunity to work with a diverse group of volunteers from clinical and non-clinical backgrounds. Smit liked connecting back to his “why” for getting into medicine.

A patient in the Dominican Republic gets her blood pressure checked as part of the primary care services provided by an AdventHealth Global Missions-sponsored trip in February 2020. [Photo: AdventHealth News]

“As we’re trying to get through our residencies, some of us can develop tunnel vision and forget why we got into medicine in the first place,” he said. “Mission trips allow us to take a step back, serve others and get to know a different culture. It helps us grow and, at the same time, have a little fun.”

This is the first mission trip to the Dominican Republic since it’s become an official AdventHealth Global Missions footprint. However, the relationship between AdventHealth, which operates 50 hospitals throughout the United States, and Santo Domingo’s Centro Médico Vista del Jardín started years ago with team members from various AdventHealth facilities organizing medical mission trips to the Caribbean country. As these trips continue, the relationship will only be strengthened.

“During this mission trip, I had the opportunity to meet with Centro Médico Vista del Jardín’s CEO, CFO, chief of staff, chief of obstetrics, chief of emergency medicine and even the architect who designed the facility,” said Dr. Fishberg. “Our meetings were thoughtful and constructive. I was left with the hope that I would be returning to the Dominican Republic in the near future.”

AdventHealth medical residents and team members partner with the staff of Centro Médico Vista del Jardín, a 53-bed hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on a recent Global Missions trip. [Photo: AdventHealth News]

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