Medical Missionaries trips typically serve the populations of rural Haiti and the Dominican Re-public, specifically the region along their shared border and around Thomassique, Haiti where our clinic/hospital, St. Joseph Clinic, is located. Due to the remoteness and impoverishment of these areas, residents do not have consistent or easy access to medical care. Our medical and dental teams make day trips to different villages in these regions where they hold free health clinics for the local residents. They also provide support and training to local healthcare workers and the Clinic staff. Our surgical teams care for patients at the St. Joseph Clinic. Vis-iting construction teams provide maintenance, repairs and improvements to the Clinic as needed.
We welcome doctors, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, paramedics, phar-macists, pharmacy technicians, dentists, dental hygienists, medical students, etc. You do not necessarily need to have medical experience to join a team however, as there are ways non-medical members can contribute to the trip as well. Each trip has a team leader who deter-mines the provider needs for their trip. Additionally, some trips are designed exclusively for construction/maintenance purposes and welcome those with expertise in these areas.
Trip agendas are determined by the team leader in conjunction with Medical Missionaries leadership and agendas may vary depending on the current needs in the region. However, usually, all team members fly from their home city into Santo Domingo Airport in the Dominican Republic where we rendezvous. A bus transports our group four hours to Banica, a rural town near the DR/Haiti border where the we spend the night at Medical Missionaries’ El Centro dormitory.
If the trip is designed to provide general healthcare to rural villages, the next day or two typi-cally includes clinics in the villages around Banica. The team then crosses into Haiti heading to St. Joseph Clinic in Thomassique. Over the remaining trip days, we provide free clinics in vari-ous small towns and villages. At the end of the week, we travel from Thomassique back to Santo Domingo where the team usually has an end-of-trip dinner together and spends the night at a hotel before returning home to the US the next day.
Some teams have a special focus and may fly from the US into Port-au-Prince, Haiti and head directly to Thomassique and to the St. Joseph Clinic where they remain. For example, surgical teams travel to the Clinic and spend a week performing surgeries for patients who come from the surrounding region and would otherwise not have access to this care.
Additionally, some teams focus primarily on education and spend the week providing medical training sessions for local healthcare workers and clinic staff.
Typically the team will have breakfast, pack up medicine and gear, and head out in trucks to our clinic for the day. After setting up a pharmacy and doctor stations, patients are screened with the help of translators then directed to an available doctor or physician’s assistant, also supported by translators, for medical evaluation and care. Patients requiring medications visit the onsite pharmacy if needed. The clinics usually take up most of the day, depending on the number of patients. After packing up, the team heads home to St. Joseph Clinic for showers, dinner, socializing, pre-clinic prep of medications and rest.
While in Haiti, we stay at St. Joseph Clinic in Thomassique which has a two-story dormitory as well as a small two-bedroom guest house. In the Dominican Republic, we stay at another Medical Missionaries dormitory in Banica consisting of multiple rooms with bunk beds. Both residences have communal bathrooms and showers, beds with mosquito netting and electrici-ty. Occasionally, if necessary due to distance when visiting remote villages, we may stay in the homes of local residents for one night.
Medical providers are assisted by local translators, so it is not necessary to be proficient in Creole or Spanish. Learning some common phrases however can add to the experience, ena-bling you to communicate personally even something as simple as a greeting or a thank you.
Most one week trips cost approximately $1200 total including deposit/application fee (due upon acceptance), air fare, room and board, ground transportation, a couple restaurant meals/snacks, pocket money, and a hotel room on the last night. Medical Missionaries pro-vides an easy online way for volunteers to fundraise individually through their family and friends, if desired. Each volunteer is responsible for paying a trip fee to Medical Missionaries either through this fundraising site or by paying with personal credit card or check. Additional-ly, volunteers are responsible for purchasing their own airline tickets, paying for their restau-rant meals, their hotel room for the last night and any other extra incidental costs. Please note, should you choose to fundraise through our site, we will allot $600 of your raised funds (AFTER the trip fee is covered) as a travel allowance, and Medical Missionaries will send you a check for this amount to use towards your airfare. If there are remaining donated funds after the trip fee and travel allotment are covered, be aware that the excess donations will go to Medical Missionaries to be used where needed, most likely towards acquiring and transport-ing medications for the trip.
The primary mode of transportation is in the open back of trucks, sometimes for a couple of hours straight, over rugged dirt roads through mountainous and rural areas. While bumpy and sometimes jarring, these rides provide you with breathtaking vistas and gorgeous landscapes, a glimpse of the locals living their daily lives going to market or school, and a chance to get to know your fellow team members.
While breakfast and dinner are provided for the team at St. Joseph Clinic, midday meals are eaten during medical clinics and usually consist of whatever protein bars, nuts, or other non-perishable snacks you brought from home.
Medical Missionaries often asks medical trip participants to help transport much needed medications for the free clinics. These will be given to you in a suitcase in advance of the trip. Without these provisions, our patient care would not be possible. You will be refunded for the extra baggage airline fee after the trip.
All trip participants should take precautions to guard against malaria while in Haiti. Taking an anti-malarial drug is recommended, as is the use of bug repellent and mosquito netting over beds.