Tale of Two Cities in Santo Domingo

Today’s blog is provided by Carol Whittaker, Director and Assistant Dean of the Center for Global Health and photo by Alumni Jill Dingle

Hospital Municipal Villa Mella

University at Albany School of Public Health students and faculty on a study tour in the DR spent several hours yesterday visiting two hospitals, one sponsored by a non-profit charity organization, “Fundacion Activo 20-30,” and the other, a public hospital administered by the Ministry of Public Health.

Last year, during a similar visit and study tour, the groups split into two sections, one visiting the Centro de Salud Fundacion Activo 20-30 and the other visiting the public hospital.

This year we insisted that all be able to visit and compare the two hospitals. They Fundacion Hospital serves a large community and provides an extensive array of services including general medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, internal medicine, prenatal care, cardiology, dentistry, nutrition, endocrinology, urology and more. It does not provide surgical or trauma services.

The facility was clean and well organized; although many individuals were waiting for services, everything was organized to ensure patients receive the appropriate services.

Waiting areas were full but not over crowded. It was quiet because overhead silenced televisions were showing recent films with subtitles that kept people engaged.

We went from that model hospital to the public hospital Villa Melia Public Hospital which was established as a maternity hospital when the population in it’s catchment area was much smaller than it was now. The role of the hospital has also grown significantly; it serves as an emergency hospital and provides many of the services listed above but with few staff members and a lot less medical equipment and supplies.

Last year we met the hospital director who had recently arrived. He told us of his plans for improvement. We were impressed by his success. Although still very overcrowded, some services have been moved to nearby renovated buildings freeing up space in the main hospital for larger waiting areas.

It was noticeably cleaner and some new paint had brightened it. An entirely new tuberculosis clinic had been added and an enlarged emergency center was under construction.

It is obvious that a single Director can bring about enormous changes within a short time.