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By Lauren Clark Hughes / Whitworth Today

This spring, Whitworth's Dornsife Center for Community Engagement sent students on aid trips to downtown Spokane, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Led by Associate Professor of Health Science Matt Silvers, the group that went to the Dominican Republic assisted local doctors in healthcare assessments in Santo Domingo.

Dominican physicians trained visiting Whitworth students, who went door-to-door looking for patients who could benefit from visits to a nearby pop-up clinic. Throughout the week, students gained first-hand experience caring for patients, doing standard intake exams including health questionnaires and basic vital signs.

"The healthcare we provide is considered to be pretty basic here in the U.S., but it's hard to access in most of the communities we serve in the Dominican Republic," Silvers says. “We're not able to treat chronic diseases, such as hypertension or diabetes, but the primary illnesses and infections that we see are simple to treat and are mainly from poor living conditions and limited access to basic treatments."

The clinic served approximately 75-150 patients in each of the Santo Domingo communities the team visited, all in a week’s time – a feat that would not be possible for doctors without assistance from students and other volunteers. The team also spent a day providing community service at the Aldeas Infantiles SOS Orphanage, providing recycling education and playing with children.

"Last year I was blessed to go on this trip. While leaving, I had this moment of God telling me I would be back," says David Cooper, '18, a veteran of the last two Dominican Republic trips. "Going down a second time has only verified my passion for service and loving others. A part of my heart remains in the Dominican Republic, and I don’t think it will ever leave."