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In March 2024, anesthesiologists from the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine embarked on a seven-day medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, supported by the Hispaniola Medical Charity organization.

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During their week-long trip to Hospital Ricardo Limardo, Drs. Paul Piennette, David Money, and Tyler Abarca, encountered a spectrum of medical cases. From performing essential surgeries such as cholecystectomies and hernia repairs to addressing the need for AV fistula creations for dialysis patients, the team's interventions targeted pressing health care needs within the local population.

In a health care system where access to elective procedures is often dependent on an individual’s financial resources, the mission's impact extended beyond medical treatment to improving the quality of life for many patients.

The biggest impact that I would like to think we made was aiding in medical care for people that would otherwise not have it available to them,” Piennette says.

The success of the medical mission hinged on meticulous planning, cultural competency, and effective collaboration. Working alongside peers and engaging with local health care professionals, the team navigated language barriers and cultural nuances. Their collaborative spirit not only enhanced the quality of care, but also fostered mutual understanding and respect among all involved.

As mission leader, Piennette hopes “that the residents, medical students, and trainees that were taken on the trip gained an appreciation for some of the nuances of global medical care." Beyond the medical interventions, the mission trip served as a vessel for personal and professional growth.

The ability to interact and share techniques, knowledge, and culture with others—both within the U.S. and globally—is one of the main ways that we can advance medical missions, medical education, and medicine in general,says Piennette.

By extending anesthesia and perioperative care and education on a global scale, the department’s faculty and residents contribute to the advancement of health care worldwide. Because of the success of this year’s trip, the team plans to return to the Dominican Republic to continue their partnership with Hospital Ricardo Limardo in February 2025.