Dominican Republic - April 2019

Dr. Hake and Dr. Finney operating on a patient in the Dominican Republic

Dr. Mark Hake (Ortho Trauma faculty) and Dr. Bert Finney (PGY-V resident) made the most recent medical mission trip to the DR from March 30 - April 5. The trip was organized by Dr. Tom Moyad, who is a former U-M Ortho resident and currently works in California. This was Dr. Hake’s second trip to the DR; his first trip was as a chief resident. The health care delivery system in the DR is primarily based on care in public hospitals. Although there is a public insurance system (on paper), there isn’t reliable coverage and even the poorest patients would need to pay for their own medical supplies, including implants, IV fluids, etc. The medical mission team provides most all of the implants and equipment (“everything but the OR table” per Dr. Hake) while some items like IV fluids and anesthetics needed to be purchased from the hospital. Items brought down included implants, scrubs, surgical gloves, antibiotics, drapes, prep, lap sponges and cautery devices. 

"The best part of the trip is giving care that patients otherwise wouldn’t get."

Mark Hake, MD
Dr. Hake and Dr. Finney with the DR medical mission team

Forty patients were seen in clinic on the first day and the team decided that thirteen of the patients could be helped surgically. Most issues treated are a result of a traumatic injury and included a both-bone forearm fracture 4 weeks out, bone infections and angular deformities from prior fractures. The team is challenged with complex decision-making from a medical and ethical perspective. Treatment must be fairly conservative, as there isn’t an ICU to send patients to afterward and the team needs to keep trust in the community.“The best part of the trip is giving care that patients otherwise wouldn’t get,” per Dr. Hake. He also mentioned how the trips help to provide a new perspective on life and the team is also better off when returning from the trip. He strongly recommends anyone considering this to take advantage of the opportunity as it helps you learn to take care of others in a challenging environment and become a better clinician in the process.