By Greg Russell
Dr. Lawrette Axley’s far-reaching mission trip to the Dominican Republic each semester
has grown even larger: the U of M’s School of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
joined them during spring break to provide much-needed assistance to a school for
deaf, impoverished children.
“I cannot express how excited we are to be going on this trip with the School of Nursing,”
said AUSP clinical assistant professor Jennifer Taylor. “It is a wonderful collaboration
between our two programs and Lawrette has been amazing helping us through this process
and welcoming us with open arms.”
Axley, a Loewenberg School of Nursing professor, said AUSP will provide instruction
for the few teachers at CAES School for the Deaf in San Pedro on how to work effectively
in teaching hearing-impaired children. They will also give details on minor repair
of hearing aids and conduct a needs assessment to make plans for future trips.
“In addition, the AUSP group will be visiting the Universidad Autonoma De Santo Domingo
and meeting with a professor who has a small AUSP program. Currently, Dominican Republic
has four audiologists in the entire country,” Axley said.
For five years, Axley has led a group of nursing professors and students to the poor,
Caribbean country that borders Haiti. Students spend either spring or fall break on
the trip, providing medical exams and education to a very needy population that in
many cases would not otherwise receive such services. Axley said about 1,500 to 2,000
individuals are treated each trip. Students pay their own way.
Along with Taylor, AUSP clinical professor Marilyn Wark and two speech and four audiology
students went on the trip to provide services to deaf children.
Axley said the earthquake in Haiti has created a bigger need for medical services
in the Dominican Republic, too.
“We were told to anticipate a greater need among the Dominican families because many
organizations were stretched a bit more to provide assistance to people in both countries.
I know the Foundation for Peace, the relief organization we work with, is continuing
to provide services in both areas.”