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Project Hispaniola

Who We Are

Project Hispaniola is a team of medical students and faculty advisors from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  We are dedicated to providing medical care to underserved populations in the bateyes surrounding La Romana, Dominican Republic, which are home to thousands of sugarcane plantation workers and their families. This year, Project Hispaniola will return for the second consecutive year to work with Hospital Buen Samaritano.  A private mission hospital with the goal of increasing access to primary health care, preventative and curative services in La Romana, Buen Samaritano works closely with our team to provide an entre into the communities, as well as act as a liaison for our public health research.

Our Work

Bateyes were originally established during the 1960s to provide temporary housing for migrant Haitian workers harvesting the sugarcane fields. Over time, these temporary settlements have turned into permanent homes for second and third generation families of Haitian migrant workers. These communities often lack access to clean water, improved latrines, education, and healthcare.

During our service trips, Project Hispaniola sets up mobile medical clinics to provide community members with basic healthcare services, including Family and Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and OB/GYN. Our clinics see over a hundred patients a day and provide HIV screenings, prenatal care, and medications free of charge.

Project Hispaniola originally provided medical care on the Haitian side of the island of Hispaniola. Our first team traveled to Haiti in December of 2008, and our second one returned safely in January 2010--just 48 hours before the devastating earthquake in Haiti struck.  However, for several years now, our team has traveled to the Dominican Republic side of the island, and plans to continue our work in the Dominican bateyes.

In March 2011, Project Hispaniola initiated a public health project for bateyes along the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The team started with public health research in Batey Altagracia, and conducted a household survey assessing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) knowledge, attitudes and practices. From 2012 to the present, the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics has collaborated with a local non-profit organization to implement community health clubs focused on WASH practices to further improve health conditions in those bateyes.

In June 2014, our most recent team, partnering with medical students from UT Medical Branch in Galveston and the Universidad de Central Este, as well as Buen Samaritano translators, conducted similar household surveys in the bateys surrounding La Romana.  The data we gathered for the WASH program is currently being analyzed, and we hope to use this information to develop additional community health clubs.  This project is estimated to take course over the next few years, in partnership with UTHSCSA and Buen Samaritano.

Our Commitment

Project Hispaniola is committed to serving communities in the Dominican Republic and advocating for improved living conditions. We pledge to continue to send medical teams each year to work in the bateys and provide necessary health care. Project Hispaniola also continually works to achieve our goal of establishing community health clubs promoting the WASH standards and sustainable solutions to improved health in the bateyes. We are currently fundraising to support our upcoming medical service trip which will take place over 3 weeks in the Summer of 2015.

Interested in Volunteering?

Health Care Professionals: Potential volunteers should review important information developed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For physicians, faculty, and staff interested in mentoring students scheduled to travel to Haiti or the Dominican Republic, please contact globalhealth@uthscsa.edu for more information.

Please contact student leaders Johanna Ascher and Paunel Bropleh for more information on Project Hispaniola.