Student Grant Reports - Dominican Republic Urogynecological Trip

Aminah Sallam and Paulina Luna, Yale School of Medicine
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Anna Pancheshnikov and Dr. Ami Acharya
El Hospital de la Mujer, Santo Domingo

Group photo with our team and the team in the Dominican Republic who worked to bring us to their hospital

We are grateful to the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies and its Graduate Students Affiliates Network for partly funding our research trip to the Dominican Republic. The purpose of this initial trip was to better define the burden of urinary incontinence (UI) faced by women in the Dominican Republic, to provide patients with a better understanding of their condition and to find patients eligible for surgical treatment for their UI. We had two goals: 1) to equip health care professionals in the region with the tools to recognize UI and 2) to educate patients with UI about their condition and help them find relief.

Dr’s Pancheshnikov and Acharya presenting to a room full of attendings, residents and students about surgical treatment for UIOur first full day was spent at El Hospital de la Mujer in Santo Domingo, where our mentors, Dr. Anna Pancheshnikov and Dr. Ami Acharya, presented to residents, attendings, department chiefs, and medical students from hospitals in the surrounding area. Their presentations were on both the diagnostic and surgical approach to treating UI. On our end, we worked with Dr. Pancheshnikov to create flyers for patients to come to the clinic for a free consultation and educational workshop on UI the following day. In addition, Dr. Pancheshnikov had gone on the radio prior to our arrival to speak about our program.

Presenting to patients on Stress Urinary IncontinenceThe following day, we divided ourselves among the patients to walk them through our pre-workshop survey in order to better engage their understanding of UI. All were excited about the program—many had been struggling with incontinence for years—and were eager to learn. After surveying the women—15 in total—we gathered everyone for our formal presentation. Not only were we able to go over what UI is, how it is acquired, how widespread it actually is, and treatment options, but we were also able to walk patients through exercises that might help them in alleviating their symptoms. At the end of the talk, patients were able to enjoy a lunch of pizza and snacks as we began taking them in for their individualized exams. We left the hospital that day having found 10 patients as candidates for surgery come February. 

People waiting for doctors

In February, we plan to return to not only assist on the surgeries necessary for those women with severe incontinence, but to also continue spreading awareness about this condition facing so many women in an area where treatment is scarce. Through the three foundations of our project- service, education, and collaboration- we hope to create a sustainable program in which Dominican medical providers are able to diagnose and treat any patient who presents with UI.

people waiting for doctor