WilmU Nurses Offer Aid in the Dominican Republic

A team from Wilmington University’s College of Health Professions embarked on a weeklong mission trip to Santo Domingo, capital city of the Dominican Republic, where they delivered medical treatment to a population in need.

WilmU’s Dr. Lori Irelan, Family Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Reynolds and RN Leah Chimes join other health care professionals in Santo Domingo.

This was the second time WilmU faculty and student nurses volunteered their time and expertise to the New Jersey-based nonprofit Foundation for Peace, which organized the trip.

An assistant professor, two students, and a nurse practitioner graduate joined caregivers from across the U.S. and Canada in staffing a medical clinic and lending a hand in the construction of a special needs facility.

“Last year, the group was able to bring more than $15,000 worth of medication and treat more than 1,000 patients in our mobile clinics,” says Dr. Lori Irelan, regional chair of the nurse practitioner program at WilmU’s Dover and Georgetown campuses. “We were bused to remote villages, 45 minutes to an hour away, and worked for 10 hours a day until we saw all the patients who were waiting for care.”

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and joint pain were commonly treated complaints, as were mosquito-borne illnesses, fungal infections, and parasitic diseases. Many of the patients were children.

The group aimed to educate village residents, provide them with a supply of donated medications, and arrange follow-up visits for them with area physicians.

On an island nation where the average annual income is under $5,000, where 14 percent of the population is unemployed, where more than 40 percent live below the poverty line, and where — in the months since the trip was planned — Hurricane Maria flooded communities and destroyed housing on its way across the Caribbean in September, the assistance was desperately needed.

“The mission trip is rewarding in many ways,” says Dr. Irelan. “It’s a way to serve people who are under-served. It’s very humbling to see the level of poverty they’re in, and to make a difference.”

It also demonstrates the ideals that WilmU’s nursing program aims to instill in its students. “We emphasize holistic care, practical skills, and a passion for nursing across boundaries,” she says. WU


—David Bernard