A member of Dr. Steven M. Pilpovich's team provides oral care at Good Samaritan Hospital. Dr. Pilpovich was among a group of US dentists who recently aided in the revitalization of the hospital's dental outreach program.

Renewal and healing in the Dominican Republic

Feb. 14, 2020
The story of Good Samaritan Hospital in La Romana, Dominican Republic, offers an opportunity for us to each ask how we can make a difference.

The story of Good Samaritan Hospital in La Romana, Dominican Republic, offers an opportunity for us to each ask how we can make a difference. Thanks to individual leadership, business support, and dental volunteers, the hospital is helping lift up a community through compassionate care.

Provided by the Scheduling Institute

Intellectually, we all know we have but one life to live and that we should make the most of it. But let’s face it, not many of us routinely ask ourselves how we might be able to apply our gifts and passions to make an even bigger difference in the lives of people and the world around us.

Then there are those who experience a life-altering event that causes them to do just that. Moises Sifren was born to Haitian immigrants and raised in one of the unimaginably poor sugar cane villages in the Dominican Republic. He has been serving as executive director of Good Samaritan Hospital in La Romana, Dominican Republic, since 2001. That was the year he and his wife changed their plans and did not board the ill-fated American Airlines Flight 587, which tragically crashed shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport on November 12, killing all 260 passengers and crew, including 175 Dominicans. Among those killed was the pastor who had worked tirelessly across the United States for 12 years to raise the necessary funds and support to make Good Samaritan Hospital a reality.

Under Sifren’s inspirational leadership, the hospital continued to benefit from the generosity of mission groups. Up until about four years ago, volunteers only numbered a few hundred annually and dental services were provided at a minimum. Then fate intervened once again. Sifren was brought together with two US organizations who shared his purpose to not only treat patients, but truly care for them and positively impact their lives and communities: World Mission Partners (WMP) and the Scheduling Institute (SI). WMP is a non-profit that exists to organize and host mission trips to provide medical, dental, construction, and spiritual support to the people of the Dominican Republic and also Costa Rica. SI is a leading practice growth consultant in dentistry that coaches dentists and their teams how to grow both professionally and personally. 

Since working with WMP, the hospital as well as schools and other projects in the region now benefit from several thousand volunteers a year on dozens of missions, many devoted to providing desperately needed dental care for adults and children. WMP continues to provide logistical support, while SI serves as a catalyst by providing pathways and opportunities for interested dentists and their teams, and by providing a vision and inspiration for those who may never have thought beyond their local charities.

Today, the hospital is a modern five-story facility with a six-room dental clinic that is considered the nicest and most modern in the region. The clinic equipment was provided by dental office design firm Design Ergonomics and SI clients. A new training center at the hospital was funded by WMP, SI, and SI clients. And a brand-new, state-of-the-art mobile dental unit was made possible with the generous donations of two SI clients. Currently, a new surgical ward is under construction, and an ever-expanding vision remains constant among the leadership of Good Samaritan Hospital and its supporters. 

Sifren and the hospital’s supporters have worked to instill a culture of excellence in all the hospital does, including training doctors, dentists, and staff on what it means to deliver a caring and compassionate patient experience (concepts not typically applied in the Dominican Republic’s health-care system); the importance of building high-performing teams; and developing a network of relationships and resources committed to helping people.

A call to action

It shouldn’t take a catastrophic event to remind us of our own one life to live or lead us to consider how we might be able to live it with an even greater impact. We encourage you to use your one life to write a personal success story, not just a business one. Consider including in your next chapter a profoundly impactful mission trip to a country with needs beyond what you can imagine. Whether a team of two or 25, unanimous feedback from everyone who participates in a mission is the realization of how much need there is in other places, and how much some of us take for granted.

It goes without saying that you are gifted in the field of dentistry—good with your hands, your head, and your heart. Are you also a good teacher? An inspirational leader? A motivational fundraiser? A well-connected individual within your community? Don’t take your own gifts for granted. Give of them in ways you may never have considered, and get back in ways you have never imagined.  

If you’re interested in learning more about WMP, receiving more information about mission trips, or finding out how you can participate in the work happening in the Dominican Republic, visit worldmissionpartners.org or email [email protected].

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