Dominican Republic April 26, 2009

Hello Everyone,

Having a great time here in the Dominican Republic. I have been very busy on the largest hospital ship in the world (it has a twin ship though) it’s the USNS Comfort. I am here to train the Navy and a Dominican Republic dental school and the Domincan government’s Chief of Med/Dent on the CEREC technology. I am also in the field hospital working on the Dominicans.

Today we saw 92 patients in our dental unit. I did 13 fillings, one scaling/debridement. We had four dentists working, one was triaging the patients. We also had two Dominican dentists who did extractions. So the stats for today, 92 exams, 35 prophy’s , 4 OHI’s, 33 fluoride treatments, 31 restorations, 38 extractions.

The operation is the biggest humanitarian effort going on. It is a four month mission in the Carribean. Our group is dentists, physicians, veterinarians, pharmacists, optometrists, engineers, and others in the healthcare fields. As of today in the Dominican Republic, we had over 40,000 healthcare encounters, 10,000 patient encounters, 1000 animal treatments. The Navy, Army, Airforce are here. This is the second stop. The first was Haiti. The next will be Antigua. i am here just for the Dominican mission. I will leave on the 30th of April.  

I am working at the sports complex that was built for the 2003 Pan-Am games. The complex is dilapidated after only 5 years. There is trash everywhere. I am serving four days there. Tomorrow ast. Then I have presentations to do on the ship.

I take a helicopter or boat from the ship to shore at 6:00 am. We set up the equipment, field hospital stuff- bare bones. Then start with the patients. We have a lunch of military rations called MRE’s, which stands for “meals rejected by ethiopeans” but they are in fact very good. Then after treating the patients we break down and put away the stuff, get back to the ship, have dinner, a couple of meetings to go over the day and the next day’s activities. Then I have been doing one on one training with the Navy dentists on the CEREC till late at night. I hit the sack very tired around midnight or 1am, get up at five and do it again!! hoo-ha (that’s an army thing). 
The people start lining up in front of the complex around 3-4 in the morning I am told. we can’t see everyone , so they keep coming back every day. Every day the line gets longer and longer. There is no running water in the complex. There are no bathroom facilities either. They have four porta-potties in front, but that’s all and i don’t want to even look inside them. Attached is a photo of part of the lineup from Saturday. The people are fascinated by the operation. people hang around, there are some people peddling drinks, beaded necklaces, candy, popsicles. The helicopter landing zone is on the soccer field. People sit in the stands to watch and during the day they are staring at us through the windows as we work. Kids run off with our trash bags to dig through them for anything. Its a real experience. Most of the people I see have never seen a dentist. Some that have, have seen the dentist through other humanitarian efforts or at the dental schools. Santo Domingo is where I am. There are four million people here.

Well, I will write more later. My only free time is late at night. Hope all is well in your part of the world. I know I can’t save the world, but I can try just one tooth at a time. Thanks for reading.

All the Best,
Dr. Paul Schoenbeck

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