Within the greater La Romana area, of which Casa de Campo is part, there are many institutions doing excellent work for the community. Here we introduce you to the Global Health Center, which is part of the Clinica de Familia in La Romana.
Clínica de Familia is a comprehensive community health services organization in La Romana, which runs one of the largest HIV clinics in the Dominican Republic, in addition to primary care services, an adolescent reproductive health clinic, and a specialized clinic for sex workers, among other programs.
Global Health Center at Clínica de Familia La Romana
At Clínica de Familia La Romana, medical students like Rathika Nimalendran from Columbia University in New York come to live and work within an environment that is very different from both their clinical rotations in the US and other international health settings.
Clinica de Familia La Romana“The community forms part of the Clínica, patients are given autonomy, and clinicians feel excited about their work. It was a very meaningful and enriching experience.”
— Rathika Nimalendran from Columbia University in New York
Clínica de Familia hosts more than 60 graduate level health-science students and medical professionals annually, as a part of the organization’s Global Health Center, which is a collaboration between the clinic and Columbia University. At Clínica de Familia, students come to understand the practice of medicine and public health in a resource-poor setting.
The Global Health Center is one of several different programs and services offered by Clínica de Familia. The clinic also offers high quality health, education, and psychological support services to those most in need throughout the Eastern region of the Dominican Republic, including adults and children with HIV, sex workers, and adolescents. Clínica de Familia has a holistic, family-centered approach that includes specialized medical care, social services, community outreach, prevention, and education programs.
For Dr. Stephen Nicholas, Founder of the Clínica de Familia and Associate Dean for Admissions for the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Global Health Program’s cross-cultural educational experience is invaluable for the professional development of health care professionals. At Clínica de Familia, students engage in research or assist with public health projects that help improve care at the clinic, in addition to participating in education and training programs.
Dr. Stephen Nicholas during the clinic’s 15th anniversary celebration
Clinica de Familia 15th anniversary
For medical students and practitioners, the global health experience also includes a clinical component, allowing students to shadow clinicians providing care to children and adults.
For Rathika, her experiences in La Romana left her with an indelible lesson in global health: “I didn’t need to do something big to make an impact,” she says. Her time at Clínica de Familia has provided her with a more comprehensive understanding of providing care to vulnerable populations in a poor country. She observed first-hand how meeting clients’ psycho-social needs was just as important as providing them with high-quality medical care.
In addition, Rathika says that her experience at Clínica de Familia during the summer between her first and second year of medical school helped her provide better care to patients during her medical school rotations in Washington Heights, which is home to a large Dominican community in New York. “It was so great to speak in Spanish, know that they were from places I had visited. Back in Washington Heights, I had more insight into the culture, and was able to put it all together and have a better understanding of what people are going through,” she states.
Clinica de Familia La Romana
Rathika’s experiences at Clínica de Familia have redefined her career goals. She is now interested in entering a family medicine residency, in order to focus on primary care, research, and global health. As a Columbia University Global Health Scholar, funded by the Doris Duke Research Foundation, Rathika will take a brief hiatus from medical school to return to Clínica de Familia for eight months beginning in September, in order to conduct a study on the importance of viral load testing for pregnant women with HIV.