"The reward comes with every smile and I consider it a privilege to serve each patient. The experience is truly heartwarming." Anne has made lasting friendships with doctors, nurses, interpreters and people from the villages we serve while interpreting for Partners. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a degree in Hispanic Studies. "I cannot think of a better way to use my Spanish skills. I want to make a difference in someone's life and I like to think that when I leave a village after interpreting for the day, I leave more than a simple exchange of words. I hope that each patient continues to feel our collective embrace until we return six months later." When she returns to Portland, Maine, she volunteers for the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, the Portland ESL Scholarship Fund, and is a member of the board of PRHDR.
Priscilla is a professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Colby College, where she has been teaching for more than forty years. Her courses range from Spanish Composition and Conversation to upper level literature courses such as Images of Women in Hispanic Texts; Questions of Identity, Space and Power; Don Quijote. Her favorite academic projects have been the publication of Port O'Call: Memories of the Portuguese Codfiishing Fleet in St. John's Newfoundland (ISER Press) and "The Iconography of Power", a chapter in The Portuguese in Canada (University of Toronto Press). Her teaching, graduate and undergraduate work (NYU) took her to Spain, Portugal and Brazil.
Priscilla's "other life" is filled with volunteer work, such as interpreting for USM's School of Nursing in the Dominican Republic during the January session. Her part-time passion, however, is the work she carries out as Executive Director of Maine SAFE, a community based non-profit dedicated to helping people in Maine for whom English is not their first language (www.MaineSafe.org).
Priscilla comments about her experiences with Partners for Rural Health;
"I don't remember how long I have been participating as a volunteer interpreter in the program. Ten years? What pulls me back year after year are the people we serve, so deserving yet so under-served and neglected by their government. I always look forward to seeing certain faces in certain places. It is my privilege to do intake because I meet and greet each and every visitor to our clinics. Our outward-bound trips each day are filled with laughter and noise and hustle/bustle. But it is the homeward-bound trips of the late afternoon with the peaceful beauty of the rural mountain areas which refresh me, the return to Fusimaña after a busy day, the friendships we have formed with one another, the laughter, the comraderie."
Dave first joined the PRHDR mission as an interpreter while living in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer, doing health promotion projects on the Haitian border. He was so inspired by the PRHDR volunteers and students that after returning to the United States, he went to nursing school in New Orleans and finally became an RN himself in 2007, while returning to both the Dominican Republic and Haiti numerous times (he's actually lost count) with the mission. Dave looks forward to helping new students develop their assessment skills and especially to introducing them to Dominican culture.
Dr. Robertson fell in love with Latin America at 16 as an exchange student in Ecuador. Her junior year from the University of Rochester was spent in Spain at the University of Madrid, and she earned her MA in Latin American Studies at Stanford University in 1966.
Cindy and her husband Bob McLaughlin devoted 10 years to the War on Poverty, then to teaching English in Maine's public schools. Teaching remains an important focus in her life as part time faculty at UNE medical school and preceptor to more than 50 medical students for clinicals.
She graduated from Tufts Medical School in 1980 and completed residency at Maine Dartmouth Family Practice in 1983. As a National Health Service Corps Scholar, Dr. Robertson has served at the Bingham Area Health Center in a town of 1000 for 26 years, currently in practice there.
Having first volunteered with PRHDR in 2001, she has had the privilege of sharing the experience with their two sons, James and Tim, and her husband Bob (past president of PRHDR, a volunteer on two winter trips and a member of the board for nine years) and with many colleagues and friends. She has been on the PRHDR Board for several years.
Cindy feels strongly that the benefit of this project is multifactorial; it to provide quality health care every 6 months to people who without it would have little or none, it demonstrates to students the value of hands on medical skills, it strengthens commitment to transdisciplinary team work and it helps us all become more responsible neighbors and citizens of the world.
Carol Eckert has been a rural family doctor for a community health center in central Maine for over 25 years. She trained at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY. Her special interests are women's health, maternal-child issues, occupational and environmental health and toxicology. She also has a public health degree and is interested in health access and organization.
She learned about PRHDR from Cindy Robertson, a doc who also works for Healthreach Community Health Centers. She has gone on the Dominican Republic nursing outreach 3 times-- in 2004,2006,and 2008 with her son Sam, a USM grad student who acts as "doorman" and once with her daughter) and intends to go again every 2 years until she semi-retires, at which time hopefully she can go every year. She really enjoys teaching nurses/NP's, especially gyn skills, and helping out in a different cultural setting, contrasting the "hill villages" of the DR to rural health in Maine.
Elizabeth serves as a translator on the January trips, and became involved with PHRDR in 2005. Elizabeth was an International Economics major and Spanish minor at The College of William & Mary, and has lived in both Spain & the Dominican Republic. Coming from a family of healthcare professionals, Elizabeth has a high comfort level translating in a healthcare environment and enjoys working with the physicians, nurses, and students and being an integral part in the delivery of care and service to those most in need.
Susan first came to the USM Nursing Outreach program in the Dominican Republic in January 2001, and has been coming twice a year since. She loves the country, the people, and the opportunity to share the experience with the entire group. The most significant impact the program has had for her is "the opening of my heart". "The Dominicans and the USM groups have been so openhearted, it can't help but have an impact on all of us." When she is not in the DR, Susan works as a vacation relief nurse at a family practice clinic in Juneau, Alaska.
Marcia has over 30 years of professional experience working with non-profit organizations that serve refugees and immigrants. After teaching ESOL to adults for 15 years, she was the Director of Education Services for 16 years at the International Institute of Boston, a multi-service agency that assisted newly arrived refugees and immigrants. Her specialties in this work included basic literacy for non-literate immigrant adults, teacher training, and refugee mental health. She has written or contributed to several teacher training publications and curricula, and served on the Board of Directors with the Massachusetts Coalition of Adult Educators and on the Community Advisory Council for the Boston Adult Literacy Fund. She continues as a consultant for non profit immigrant education programs and volunteers at the Immigration Legal Advocacy Project in Portland, Arts Alive in Lubec and on an advisory group with the Maine Community Foundation.
Her international volunteer work has been in helping to create a library and literacy program in rural Tanzania, and with PRHDR, which she first joined in January 2005. She feels privileged to have been part of the mission of PRHDR, bringing health care to underserved remote areas, and participating in the richness of the cross cultural experience for nursing students, volunteers and villagers. The teamwork and dedication of everyone involved has been a source of inspiration and commitment to her continued participation, both as a volunteer on the trips and as a member of the PRHDR Board of Directors.
Nuala Kavanagh is a Nurse Practitioner who is currently living and working in Ireland. She completed High School in Ireland but received her nursing training in United States. She completed her Master's in Nursing at Michigan State University and worked for Ingham County Health Department and Tri-County Community Mental Health for 20+ years while living in Lansing Michigan. For five of those years she also worked as clinical instructor at Michigan State University in the Master's program.
She was introduced to PRHDR through her daughter Gemma who worked as an interpreter for the group when she was in Peace Corps in Dominican Republic. Over the past eleven years, Nuala has volunteered in various provider capacities for the group as needs arose. More recently, she has been the pharmacist and enjoys this role as she gets to work with various student nurses and has much contact with the providers as they go about their work.
Over the past few years Nuala has become aware that some of the girls from the villages where we work are prevented from completing High School because of lack of funds for transportation, uniforms and other supplies. She is currently trying to raise some $$ to help some of these girls with the support of a Mother's Wish Foundation at www.amotherswish.org. The friendship and support of colleagues and the welcome of local village people each year renews and inspires Nuala to keep coming back in order to give back to others and give thanks for her fortunate life.
Susan Accardi is the Certified School Nurse at the Windham High School in Windham, Maine. Sue learned about the PRHDR from Carol Doane while volunteering at Camp Sunshine's Diabetes Week and has been traveling with the group every summer since 2004. She has been the Team B pharmacy nurse for the past three summers. Getting to work with other health care professionals and students while helping people a "world away" has been a life changing experience and has kept her coming back year after year.
Sue is pictured here with her son Charles, aka Carlos, from the '06 summer trip. Charles has traveled to the DR for the '06 & '07 summer trips and worked as the doorman for team B.
Susan has been involved with Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic since 1998.and she previously served on the PRHDR Board of Directors.
Susan is a public health dental hygienist whose interest has been to integrate oral health into medical care. Susan is currently working at MaineHealth with From The First Tooth Program.
The opportunity to provide care to the Dominicans and the wonderful experiences of working collaboratively with all the students, faculty and volunteers has inspired her to continue her involvement with the program. Her motto, The mouth is connected to the body...
Dr. Martin is a specialist in family practice and a member of the Departments of Family Practice at Mercy Hospital and Maine Medical Center . He is a clinical preceptor for the University of Southern Maine master's degree program in clinical nursing.
As an active civic member of his community, Dr. Martin was the founder and first President of the Lakes Region Ecumenical Council, past president of the Windham Rotary Club, member of the Rotary District World Community Service Committee, former member of the Windham Action Council on Adolescent Pregnancy, the Windham School Committee, the Windham Safety Committee, Windham Health Advisory Committee, and board of directors of the Southern Maine Alternative to Residential Treatment. He has served in many capacities with the first Parish Church of York, including the Board of Deacons.
Dr. Martin was given a Certificate of Appreciation by Congressman Tom Allen on behalf of the Greater Portland Council of Governments and awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by the Windham Rotary Club. He received an award from the Rotary Club in Lviv , Ukraine for his medical relief efforts there, and was the recipient the Rotary Foundation District Service Award for his humanitarian work in Romania. In 2006 he was given a Real Hero's award by the American Red Cross for his mission work in the Dominican Republic.
Jeff has served as President and member of the Board of Directors of Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic. He has joined the medical mission as a volunteer for many years.
Tanya graduated from USM in 2007 and has been a post-partum nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital since then, where she enjoys working with an international population, many of whom are Spanish speaking only. She love traveling and has explored much of South America as well as other parts of the world. In the future Tanya hopes to be involved in more international healthcare work.
David Baker was in private practice general dentistry for twenty - five years in Norway and Auburn, Maine; as well as, a professor at the University of New England Dental Hygiene Program. Volunteering with USM is very rewarding because each trip serves a very needy population of wonderful people and every trip is so well organized to deliver care in a comprehensive manner to the patients and in an intense learning environment for the students. Dental hygiene students, as well as the nursing students, certainly have learned how vital preventive dental education can be to people living far from professional dental services.
Patricia Ingwersen is a Hispanic Studies Major at The University of Southern Maine. She is a native Mainer who currently works and lives in Portland.
Patricia spent her junior year of high school as a Rotary exchange student Obera- Misiones, Argentina. She attended classes at Armadeo Bonapland Nacional. Patty returned home and graduated high school in 2001. From 2002-2004 Patricia studied French at L'ecole Migros in Geneva, Switzerland and worked as a live-in nanny for three young children. She has studied in Spain at Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, as well as at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso in Chile. She has traveled extensively throughout South and Central America.
Patty first joined Partners as a student interpreter in January 2008 and again in January 2009 and July 2010. As a member of the fund-raising committee at PRHDR, Patty will continue to involve her local community in future PRHDR efforts. She is passionate about supporting efforts which promote community health on a global level.
Rob is the oldest of 8 children, (including Governor John Baldacci) born in Bangor, Maine. He graduated from the University of Maine with BA and Masters Degree and is currently President of Baldacci Group in Portland, Maine, a business and real estate development firm. Rob is a partner in the recent acquisition of the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Waterville Sentinel papers. He is also a partner with the New York investment banking firm of GroupArgent. Rob was the former Chairman of the Finance Authority of Maine, and Vice Chair of the Maine Guarantee Authority, He and Elizabeth were married this year and reside in Cumberland Foreside.
Ben joined PRHDR in 2007 and has been on seven previous missions to the Dominican Republic. Ben immensely enjoys working with interdisciplinary health programs and promoting the athletic training profession. He currently leads students twice yearly to the Dominican Republic for an International Service Learning Course and also serves as an athle trainer for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Teams, traveling regularly around the globe. He also serves on the International Council for the National Athletic Trainers Association and is active in the World Federation of Athletic Training & Therapy. He has presented at the state and national level on International Service Learning in Athletic Training Education. He was the recipient of the 2008 USM Faculty Service Award, and was also awarded the 2008 Mike Linkovich Grant and the 2009 OA Centers for Orthopaedics Professional Scholarship Award. Ben earned his MA in Physical Education at Western Michigan University and a BS in Sports Medicine at Lyndon State University in Lyndonville, Vermont.
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