Third-year nursing student Eduardo Locci from Rocky River, Ohio, aspires to fly high in the skies someday as a flight nurse caring for trauma patients.
But this summer he was grounded in a remote rural area of the Dominican Republic. He spent two weeks assisting the full-time medical team of a doctor and two nurses from a clinic called A Mother’s Wish in Los Pajones, a 30-minute drive from Santiago.
Locci volunteers in the Cleveland area, but this was the first time he traveled alone to volunteer outside the United States. He learned about the need for clinic volunteers from his sister’s boyfriend, John Molina, a medical student at Brown University and now a member of the Los Pajones clinic’s executive board.
During this volunteer mission, Locci stayed with Chemia, the town’s cook who opens her home to visiting volunteers.
While at the clinic, Locci joined two volunteer nurses from Maine to help the medical team.
A normal day for the student from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing was spent in the clinic or traveling through the countryside to towns with populations that averaged about 200.
When visiting the small communities, he would walk or motorbike down dirt roads lined with shacks in the rugged mountainous landscape that once was covered by jungles.
Accompanying a nurse, Locci helped with the medical care of women and their children under the age of 18. They would see between 20 and 30 patients each day either in the clinic or in the villages.
“When going through the community, we just took a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, thermometer and medications that we knew we needed or basic medications that helped with a lot of the community problems,” Locci said. The clinic provided free medications to those who needed them.
Most of what the medical team saw were water-related illnesses like diarrhea, infections and lack of appetites brought on by drinking rain, dirty tap or river water.
Many of the people lacked funds to buy clean water, Locci said.
The medical team also did checkups on patients that had not been to the clinic for a while because of the distance or an illness that prohibited them from traveling. Other patients were newborns or people recovering from surgery. They received follow-up care.
“I was a nurse/medical assistant welcoming the patients and doing vital signs and the first check up,” Locci said.
A lesson he brought home was: “I have definitely learned that the smallest things can change someone’s life,” Locci said, adding how lucky he is to be put in his life’s situation.
After the clinic closed for the day at noon, Locci helped with other local projects. He assisted in building a stone oven called a Fogon for a poor family. He worked with village children through the Boys and Girls Club in a variety of activities from playing baseball games, making cookies, to assisting with dance classes for the youth between 11 and 18. Selling cookies to the community supported the club’s day trip to Beach Cabarete.
Locci said if anyone would like to learn more or get involved, visit amotherswish.org .
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