Hospital Jose Maria Cabral Y Baez
Santiago, Dominican Republic 2004-2009
The following are photographs which chronicle my five “Heart to Heart” missions:
Many of us have performed some sort of charity work in our lives, even if only for a few hours. From 2005-2009 I had the opportunity to participate in five heart surgery charity missions to Santiago, Dominican Republic.
The “Heart to Heart” surgical missions were initiated and are still managed by Robert Pascotto, MD. Dr. Pascotto from Ft. Meyers, Florida is a cardiothoracic surgeon (now retired) with over 35 years of practice experience. In 2002 he began a program which encouraged heart surgeons and their clinical support staff to donate their time and skills to provide advanced cardiac surgical treatment to the economically disadvantaged in the Dominican Republic.
In January 2005, Dr. Pascotto attended a medical reception at my home in Clearwater, Florida. He described to me the “ Heart to Heart” organization and encouraged me to consider joining one of his missions. I accepted his invitation to work with the group and ultimately found the experience so important that I participated in four additional missions.
A typical mission consisted of an 8 day tour, staffed by 10-15 experienced American cardiac surgical nurses, technicians and surgeons who volunteer their time and pay their own expenses. We assemble in Miami and usually meet each other for the first time prior to departure. The economically disadvantaged patients of Santiago benefit from our cardiac surgical care and in addition, local resident doctors and hospital nursing staff receive instruction from the visiting faculty.
My experiences on these missions have been professionally enriching and often moving. I have always sought an international exposure to the practice of medicine and continually emphasize to my two sons the importance of obtaining their own international experiences and perspectives.
I would recommend international charity work to everyone, no matter your skill set or age. These heart surgery missions have provided me with medical, social and political insights that are unique and life balancing. I am grateful to Dr. Pascotto for his leadership and dedication.