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Students travel abroad to minister through medicine

September 08, 2016 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
With servant hearts, University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) students embarked on a weeklong mission trip to volunteer in the community of Batey Nueve, Dominican Republic. Students have provided medical treatment and changed hearts through healthcare in the region for nearly a decade.

This year’s mission team of 32 volunteers included 24 KYCOM students. More than 1,000 patients ranging in age from infant to mid-90s were treated during the course of three days at clinics in Batey Nueve, Batey Cuchillo, Batey Cinco and Batey Ocho. Patients were provided with prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, first-aid care, parasite treatment and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). Medical students visited the homes of patients who were immobile or too sick to travel to clinic sites ensuring everyone had access to their care.

“The conditions in the Bateys of the Dominican Republic were beyond what I could have imagined … no electricity, running water or access to medicine,” said Stephanie Jones, second-year medical student. “As a mother to a five-year-old son, I can’t fathom how helpless I would feel to see my child sick and medical help scarce to be found. In the Bateys there is no place for them to purchase over-the-counter medications. Every cold and flu could be life-threatening.”

Volunteers distributed medications and vitamins valued at more than $20,000. Medical students raised money throughout the year to purchase the needed medications. Clothing, sneakers, flip-flops, school supplies and sporting equipment for community members were tucked among the suitcases of medical supplies.

In addition to medical assistance, ministering to those in need was an integral part of the effort. A children’s ministry, a special part of every mission trip, included vacation Bible school and serving food through the G.O. Ministries nutrition center.

The trip is sponsored by the medical school’s chapter of the Rotaract, in conjunction with G.O. Ministries in Louisville, Ky., a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to the ministry of short-term missions and the development of global partnerships of ministry.

“I have always found joy in serving others whether that is in my hometown or internationally,” said Erin Sondgerath, second-year medical student. Having participated in other international medical mission work, KYCOM’s annual trip to the Dominican was a deciding factor when she was choosing a medical school.

“This trip was very different,” said Sondgerath. “The Dominican trip allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the culture and community of Batey Nueve and the surrounding bateys. This experience helped to remind me how important it is to show our patients how much we, as medical providers, truly care for the well-being of our patients.”


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