The Bateyes

Trip Start Nov 02, 2012
Trip End Nov 09, 2012

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Flag of Dominican Republic  , La Romana,
Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Bateyes...

After a breakfast of fresh OJ, scrambled eggs, toasted turkey and cheese and fried queso fresco we all waddled from the table to meet Jorge our driver and load into our Hyundai minibus. A narrow, bumpy, unpaved road coursed between fields of sugarcane to our final destination. Jorge nimbly guided us from one side of the road to the other as we slalomed between the oncoming motos and the pot holes (pot craters may be more descriptive). Motos are Dominican scooters which serve as the primary mode of transportation here. They usually hold between 1 and 4 riders. We hear rumor of 5 people fitting on 1 but have yet to see it

The Bateyes are the shanty towns build by the sugar factories to house the sugar cane workers and their families. These are basically self contained cities with small numbered clap board houses (tidy but very basic), places buy goods, a small gas pump and electricity--all orchestrated by the sugar factories. Many of the workers are haitian--a people group treated as second class here. The work is hard and dangerous, the pay is minimal and I suspect they are getting no great deal on rent or food from the sugar plantation.

We set up shop in an open air building with a metal roof and a 3-foot wall around the perimeter. In the shade with an occasional breeze, it sufficed well for the day's clinic. Sharon and Page screened patients with the help of our very capable translators. They provided glasses for those that needed and sent them to the next "station" if some additional care was indicated. Those patients had their pressure checked, pupils examined and eyes dilated as Dr. Myers and I evaluated for cataracts or other ocular disease. As a team we saw 89 patients 20 of whom needed cataract surgery. With the help of the Batey health promotor and the house number of the individual these folks will get transport back to the eye clinic for surgery.

As we cannot prepare for every contingency Dr. Myers and I took a McGyver approach to addressing this gentleman with a corneal foreign body. We found a sturdy bench to lay this gentleman down and some leftover bubble wrap from our equipment to place beneath his head. Out of sight from his view lest i scare him with my multipurpose utensil, I sterilized the tip of the small knife on my leatherman and after numbing his eye we successfully removed the small piece. Antibiotic drops and some instructions and we sent him on his way...
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