PLATTSBURGH — Donna Brault and her family spent this year’s summer vacation enjoying the beauty and splendor of the Caribbean tropics.
However, Brault was involved in a lot more than tourism and sightseeing during her two-week stay on the island of Dominica in mid-July.
As a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh, she traveled to Dominica to share her life-saving skills with the island’s health-care providers.
“People in the Dominicas don’t have training in basic CPR skills,” Brault said as she talked recently about her experiences in the Caribbean. “Many of the health-care opportunities we take for granted are not available down there.”
Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, Dominica is a small island southeast of Cuba and bordered by Martinique to the south and Guadalupe to the north. It has a population of about 75,000 people and is considered one of the poorest nations per capita in the eastern Caribbean.
“We (the people of Dominica) have had trouble keeping our health-care system up to standards,” said Dr. Winston Thomas, a cardiac anesthesiologist who works per diem at CVPH and was born and raised on Dominica.
“We have a shortage of physicians, nurses, equipment and medical supplies.”
Using his connection with the government of Dominica and his medical relations in the United States, Thomas has been actively pursuing ways to improve health-care conditions on the island with services such as Brault’s two-week visit.
“We are a Third World country,” he said. “We haven’t had the opportunities that are taken for granted in the U.S. My main goal is to get physicians (from the States) to come in, drive around and do clinics for our citizens.
“We’d also like to have physicians (from Dominica) come up to the States and shadow our physicians, perhaps get involved in internships to see how we conduct health care,” he added.