On October 6th, I returned from our most recent medical mission to the Dominican Republic. The medical missions are an outreach intended to bring the art and science of care practiced here at home, to the Bonao region in the central highlands of the Dominican Republic. By providing outstanding care, at no cost to the patients we are able to make a real difference in the lives of the people of Bonao.
The medical missions involve a medical team from Princeton Brain, Spine and Sports Medicine traveling to the Dominican Republic a few times a year to provide expert diagnostics and care to children in remote parts of the Republic. Our medical team consists of Dr. Shah, myself, and Dan Suarez, (president of Optec USA) who provides all of the back braces for the children free of charge.
During this mission, I traveled to meet with David Luther, Executive Director of IDDI and Liliada Rocha who is Director of Hospital Relations. This was an opportunity to update them on our progress to date. Our mission has seen over 150 patients since inception. At least 25 of those patients have been referred for physical therapies and diagnostic imaging in Bonao. All the associated costs are borne by the Dr. Nirav Shah and Neha Shah Family Medical Mission.
This visit was a terrific opportunity to talk about Dr. Shah’s interest in performing spinal injections for patients requiring conservative therapies. We had already met with Dr. Hernandez, who is the general director of the regional hospital, who has given Dr. Shah permission to use the hospital facilities for spinal injections. In an exciting development, Mr. Luther agreed to make the necessary introductions to give us access to state-of-the-art hospitals in the capital Santa Domingo to allow Dr. Shah to perform further spinal injections, with the future possibility of performing full surgeries at these hospitals.
Our next visit to the Dominican Republic is scheduled for November 30th, starting at the “Centro de Formacion Integral Cigar Family” school in Bonao. At the beginning of December, Dr. Shah and members of our team will meet with officials at the hospital in Santo Domingo to make arrangements for spinal injections and possible surgeries at the hospital.
Lastly, we are in the process of attempting to gain permission to bring our own surgical trays to the hospital for intracranial patients, and we are reaching out to our own local hospitals in the Princeton area to seek donation of those trays for our next mission to the Dominican Republic.
All in all, it was another successful mission, and a reminder both of how fortunate we are to live here in the United States, and the importance of taking steps to make a real difference in less fortunate areas. We’re all looking forward to the next mission trip.