Yesterday we set off on an adventure to discover the DR’s medical system, not by choice. 

   It didn’t happen while we were at sea rocking around the ocean and being bounced around our boat, no instead it happened when we were in the calmest habour we have ever been in; our baby Ellia managed to hurt herself. Our littlest had just begun climbing and testing her limits when yesterday she was playing on the bed and down she went. Off the edge and on to the floor. She cried for a bit and then fell asleep (it was bedtime). We checked her wrist and arm regularly since she seemed to be cradling it but didn’t see any swelling or redness. We thought other than the possible bumps or bruises that she may have fell gracefully and not injured herself. It wasn’t until this morning when she would not move her right shoulder at all when trying to use her hand, or when she went to crawl in the bed and fell flat on her face because her right arm gave out, that we knew something was definitely wrong.
   Eben, Ellia, and I went into town and found the Luperon Hospital. After asking someone the directions to where we should be going within the hospital, this kind lady escorted us past all the people in the waiting room, past the reception line, and directly in to get a medical consult. We had less than a five minute wait and we had the doctor checking Ellia out. Ellia was not able to lift her arm past shoulder height and when the doctor approached that height Ellia turned bright red and moaned. It took her only a few seconds to see that Ellia needed more than what the Luperon hospital could offer. She needed an x-ray of the injured arm. She wrote us a prescription for an x-ray and directed us to go to Puerto Plata. That entire hospital experience was quick, free, and efficient.
   Eben went back to the boat to pick up Jaala and Arias while I discussed our plan with a boater that has been here forever and she gave me the directions to get to the Puerto Plata hospital. It would take a ride in a Gua-Gua (local minivans that do trips between towns) to Imbert, and then a bus or taxi to Puerto Plata. To return it would be taxi to bus stop, then bus back to Imbert, and then Gua-Gua back to Luperon. Seemed simple enough.
   The Gua-Gua cost us RD$60 per person, which is just $1.50 (nothing for the girls as long as they were on our laps). The ride to Imbert was cozy, in a Gua-Gua they pack as many people as possible. We were 5 adults and the two girls packed into the back row of the minivan, which was a three-seater. Wether you want to or not, you get to know your neighbour since you are practically sitting on their lap. Once in Imbert a “Publico” taxi driver offered to bring us to Puerto Plata for the same price as the bus, so we opted for this. But the Publico means that you share the ride with others going in the same direction. We had 7 adutls and the 2 girls all crammed into a regular sized car. The girls were troopers and didn’t whine at all.
   Once at the hospital we were right in to get the xrays and then had about a 20 minute wait to get our doctor’s consult. The x-ray came to RD$600 ($15 US) and the consult was RD$1000 ($25 US). The doctor was very kind, spoke slowly in spanish and a little bit of english to ensure that we understood Ellia’s case. She had indeed injured herself. Ellia has a small fracture in her shoulder, it is not broken, but indeed fractured and inflamed. Her arm needs to be kept as immobile as possible (for a baby) for two weeks, while she takes a topical anti-inflammatory and an oral pain and inflammation suppressant. We were charged another RD$800 ($20 US) for the bandage they wrapped around Ellia to keep her still, since they do not make arm slings small enough to fit her. We were very impressed with all the services that we had received. Ellia has adjusted to wearing her sling and doesn’t seem very phased by it. She hardly whimpered all day and even spent a good amount of time laughing and playing with us. She is one tough cookie.

Her fracture is the little top bump you see in the red circle
This is how she needs to be wrapped up for the next two weeks
   We spent a few more hours walking around Puerto Plata, discovering their La Sirena store, which is a Dominican version of Walmart, their ocean front walkway, their central square, and some ice cream of course. Then it was time for the trek back. Both vehicles were just as packed as when we came in to town, but all we could do was laugh about it all. This is how we will be traveling for the next few months anyways, by Publicos.
This is the Gua-Gua before they added one extra person per row. We felt like we were in a clown car as they kept pilling us in!

   All in all, for the transportation (3 adults and 2 kids), medical, and prescription medicine, our day cost us $104 US dollars. The bill was cheap and the facilities and the staff that we dealt with were extremely helpful in doing their jobs quickly and efficiently, and also with tolerating our broken spanish and helping us navigate through the DR medical system. They were kind enough to repeat themselves several times over when I explained I wasn’t quite understanding some of the spanish, and put up with my sign language when I couldn’t find the words I was looking for.

This was our 20min wait in Bournigal Hospital

Now that she’s sleeping we can do some touristy things. Central Square, Puerto Plata.