School of Nursing Provides Health Care in the Dominican Republic

News Story: April 23, 2015

Last month, five Sacred Heart University faculty members conducted a medical mission trip to Parasio, Dominican Republic, along with 10 family nurse practitioner (FNP) students. An essential component of the FNP curriculum is an emphasis on health promotion, disease prevention and health restoration within a strong community framework. The program provides essential clinical experiences required for practice in family primary care for individuals of all ages.

Julie Stewart, the director of this program, had a need for clinical placement sites to train her students in maternal child health such as prenatal visits, gynecologic exams and well-child visits. Her vision for this project sent Professors Susan DeNisco, Rebecca Smart, Pennie Sessler Branden, Constance Glenn and Michelle Cole on a journey in late March. The project initially began after Michele Cole and Christina Gunther visited the area last June and found women’s health services and pediatric care to be lacking. In collaboration with Western CT Health Network and Danbury Hospital Global Health Program, their goal was to prepare Hospital PAP, a 32-bed facility that would assess the health-care community’s wellness, as well as expand their services.

During the trip, more than 300 patients received direct patient care including examinations, diagnostic testing, medications and referrals. Additionally, over 50 adult patients were screened for cardiovascular risk factors. “We were able to provide women’s health services and pediatric care to many Dominican women and children with a very apparent need for health care services,” says student Amanda Schultz. “I cannot begin to explain the compassion and positivity of the group traveling. It was an unbelievable opportunity to travel with a group of Sacred Heart faculty and my fellow colleagues and to serve a community greatly in need of health care.”