Twenty students from several GA-PCOM programs visited the Caribbean country in June to provide screenings and basic health care.
Twenty students from Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) impacted the lives of about 700 Haitian villagers—from children to the elderly—as they visited Haiti June 5-12, 2018, to provide screenings and basic health care, many at their own expense.
Organized by Kala Hurst, Biomed ’18, (DO '22), and Jotrineesha Walton, Biomed ’18, last spring, the doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), pharmacy and biomedical sciences students were supervised on the one week mission trip by a dermatologist and a registered nurse through Caribbean Lifetime Missions, an agency that has hosted short-term mission teams since 1991.
According to Joseph Monplaisir (PharmD ’20), who served as the team photographer, the students set up stations at local churches in six remote villages. Many of the villagers walked miles to come for health checkups. The volunteer team would stay each day until the last villagers were checked.
The students conducted screenings for Hepatitis C, blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as counseled patients about such health habits as wearing sunglasses and avoiding salty foods. In addition, they helped conduct sexual health seminars to educate the villagers about their risks and prevention options. They were able to provide over-the-counter medications to the villagers, and the team’s dermatologist wrote prescriptions which, Monplaisir said, would likely go unfilled because the patients couldn’t afford them. He said he saw cases of chicken pox, scabies and many other illnesses for the first time.
With parents originally from Haiti and familiarity with the Creole language, Monplaisir, along with Rebecca Boucard (Biomed ’19), served as translators for the team.
“It was very impactful to see people living with less and they were still happy. That’s what stood out to me,” Monplaisir said. “These people had literally nothing, not even running water or electricity, and they had a smile on their faces. Some had to walk almost two miles to get to the local water well,” he added. “I have no excuse to be upset about anything. It gave me perspective.”
Aside from Hurst, Walton, Monplaisir and Boucard, students who participated in the mission trip included: Moriah Newman, Biomed ’18; Krystle Richmond, Biomed ’18; Obianuju Nwamah (DO ’21); Kristi Anderson (DO '21); Teyaijah Givens, Biomed ’18; Jasmine Beasley, Biomed ’18; Shayla Lackey, Biomed ’18; Porshaye Watkins (Biomed ’19); Cayla Buck (Biomed ’19); Eboni Carroll, Biomed ’18; Briana Davis (Biomed ’19); Amber Douglass (Biomed ’19); Ashley Douglass (PharmD ’21); Tiffanii Smith (Biomed ’19); Adenike Bademosi (Biomed '19); and Karlene Davis, Biomed ’18. Dr. Tiffany Clay served as the team physician and Brunetta Martin, RN, was the team nurse.
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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