Grace Lagasse, MD
Grace Lagasse, MD
Emergency Medicine · Mobile, AL

Project Dominica

February 18th
La Romana, Dominican Republic

Project Description

A cross cultural medical outreach to the Dominican Republic (DR) to staff clinics that provide medical care to the sugar cane cutters and their families who live on the bateys (sugar cane villages), in the city barrios (neighborhoods), city jails (preventivas) and government prisons of the eastern DR, La Romana. These people, primarily Haitians, have very minimal access to medical care. This organization, with permission from the DR government, is able to have access to Haitians living and working in the DR.

Population Served

Historically and continuing into the modern era, Haitians have been excluded from Dominican society and services including medical care. Haitians workers and their families that work in the DR and have limited to access to quality medical care. Haitians have worked in the DR since the 1800s and continue to do so today, effectively in economic slavery. They are possibly the poorest people in the western hemisphere, living in coarse and deprived conditions. Of the 11 million people in the DR, approximately one million are Haitian without full Dominican citizenship and very limited access to education and health care.

Expected Impact

These batey clinics, in existence since the 1990s with only a brief hiatus with COVID, have expanded to include city barrios, city jails and federal prisons. In recent years as many as 60 individual visiting teams traveled annually to La Romana to continuemedical outreach.

By continuing these batey clinics, which now expand beyond bateys to reach even more Haitians in the eastern DR, basic medical care will continued to be delivered to this highly at risk population which is otherwise denied access to quality care. Ranging from management of chronic to acute conditions the medical group contains internists, emergency medicine physicians, and surgeons in an attempt to address the multiple issues facing this neglected population.

Trip Photos & Recap

On our trip to the Dominican Republic we were able to help many Dominicans and Haitians. On Monday we traveled to a medium sized batay and cared for over 160 Hatians, providing basic medical care for common chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes as well as more acute conditions like pneumonia to adults and children. On Tuesday through Thursday our group was granted access to two different men's jail, one women's prison, and one men's prison. We were able to offer basic hygiene supplies and treat both chronic and acute medical conditions. On these three days we treated over 580 patients. Because of previous COVID restrictions we were the first medical group to reach this population, in the jails and prisons, since the pandemic started. On Friday we went to a smaller batay where we cared for over 100 Hatians in a remote farming community.