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news News Tuesday, April 10, 2018 Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:19 AM - Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:19 AM

Serving beyond Boston

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston returns from outreach clinic in the Dominican Republic

Serving beyond Boston

For over 30 years, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston has journeyed across borders to serve its patient population via outreach clinics in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. A team comprised of surgeons, nurses, specialists and others travels more than 1,500 miles as part of the clinic that evaluates patients’ needs for further reconstructive surgery.

This year the trip was a little different. Arlene Swan-Mahony, nurse manager of the outpatient and care management departments, notes – as the group was unable to go to Puerto Rico.

“Our visit to Puerto Rico is usually the second half of the trip. Given the devastation from the hurricane, the families were in a different place. The VA hospital that hosts us was not able to take us, so we made the decision not to go to Puerto Rico this year,” she says. However, Shiners Hospitals for Children — Boston staff are still in touch with many of their patients through an established contact on the island.

Despite the missed visit in Puerto Rico, the clinic still enjoyed success in Santo Domingo as they saw 86 children, 14 of them new to the hospital. The greatest benefit from trips like these is that they enable the staff to meet the patient within their home country. Because the patients do not have to fly to Boston for their check-up, their overall travel time is significantly minimized. 

“The clinics are evaluation clinics. The primary purpose is to see our existing patients on an annual basis. At that point in time the surgeons make a decision about their care,” says Swan-Mahony. The children are told that they are fine until next year’s visit or that they need to return to Boston for additional treatment. If they need to return, a timeline is established: either within three months, in three to six months, or after six months.

Dra. Jeannette Aguilar de Mena was a gracious host, allowing the staff to take over UniRehab Clinica, the physical therapy clinic she owns, for the day in order to receive patients. Dra. Mena has a long-established relationship with the hospital.  When she and her son were injured in a house fire years ago, her son was treated by doctors at the Boston Shriners Hospital. Her son has since gone on to become a physician in the United States himself. Additional support comes from the Club Shrine Dominicano, who will often refer new patients to the clinic.

This year’s team consisted of Matthias B. Donelan, M.D.; Daniel N. Driscoll, M.D., FACS; Richard J. Ehrlichman, M.D.; Branko Bojovic, M.D.; Joseph Upton, M.D.; Jeanne McDonald, RN; Diane Topliffe, RN; Kathleen Hannigan Morris, RN; Taylor Speranza, RN; Lori V Turgeon PT, DPT; Liza Gamelli, SW CM; Miriam Kearns, Spanish interpreter; Cheryl D’Angelo, Jobst specialist; Susan Brogna, photographer; and Arlene Swan-Mahony, RN, BSN, MHA.

Swan-Mahony has been going on the outreach trips for the past six years since taking on the role of nurse manager, and loves the program.

“It reinforces the great work we do,” she says. “We’re living the mission when we’re down there.”

Group photo of all physicians, staff and other volunteers Dra. Mena with Dr. Donelan

Pictured: (top-right) Lori V. Turgeon, PT, DPT, with patient Deury; (above) A group photo of this year's volunteers and Dra. Mena with Dr. Donelan