Article form the Eagle
A Bryan anesthesiologist is asking for the community's help to carry on his family's legacy of service to one of the world's most impoverished regions.
Bert Hart's late father was a surgeon from the Dominican Republic who provided medical care to indigent people there, and now Hart is doing the same with his nonprofit organization, Hispaniola Medical Charity.
Along with a medical school colleague, Dennis Gore, who is now a professor of surgery at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Hart founded the organization to provide medical, surgical and dental care to the impoverished people on the island of Hispaniola - the home of Haiti on the west and the Dominican Republic on the East.
To raise money for their next mission trip in August, the doctors are putting on a concert featuring live music by Del Castillo, salsa dance lessons, a raffle and food on Saturday at the Grand Stafford Theater.
The lively event with Del Castillo will get participants up on their feet, said Joan Quintana, managing partner of AdventGX, the company that operates the Grand Stafford Theater.
"Expect to move," Quintana said. "You won't be able to help yourselves. The music is full of energy and pure joy; the musicians are simply amazing. When they play at small venues like the Stafford, their sound fills the place with energy. It is a whole lot of fun."
The Latino music group will bring a unique flavor of Latino Rock, but it will also be the last chance to hear them touring, Quintana said.
"We were delighted when the group agreed to do the show," Quintana said. "The band is on their farewell tour, so we are really fortunate to have the opportunity to have them in Bryan before they stop touring."
The fundraising and benefit concerts for mission trips are about continuing his father's tradition of service, Hart said.
"One of the things that made us establish the organization was my dad was very much involved in charity work there, and when he passed away, we decided to continue his legacy," Hart said.
This will be the organization's third mission trip to the area. In addition to providing medical care, the group also provides education through collaboration with UTMB and the Department of Global Health. They also provide medical supplies and equipment.
"One of our goals is to help one public hospital in Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic) that is in dire need of medical equipment, so we have made a commitment to try to provide surgical equipment to equip two operating rooms," Hart said.
Operating rooms don't come cheap - the goal is to raise about $250,000 to buy two operating rooms, Hart said.
"We're on our way," he said. "We've been raising money for the last three years."
One other goal that the group has established is a scholarship for a Haitian medical student - they are paying for her entire medical education.
"We are hoping to establish a legacy so we can leave a mark, so they can help themselves," Hart said. "You know that great quote that you can feed people fish for a day, or you can teach them how to fish. That's what we're trying to do - teach them how to fish."
Because there is not an ear, nose and throat surgeon in the impoverished area, the medical team will be focusing on helping children that have problems with recurring tonsillitis, breathing or sinus problems during the upcoming mission.
"We'll also be bringing a dentist with us to do education dental hygiene and perhaps perform extractions," Hart said. "There are villages with 300 children that have never seen a dentist."
All of the proceeds from the benefit concert will go toward patient care, Hart said. Every volunteer is responsible for his or her own transportation and room and board costs.
The weeklong mission trips are long and tiring, but worth it, Hart said.
"You feel tired, but you feel fulfilled and you feel grateful to have been able to help people who otherwise don't have the ability to receive health care - that are underserved," Hart said. "It puts us in situations that we go beyond our borders and out of our comfort zones to take care of the needs of our brothers."
Hispaniola Medical Charity Benefit Concert:
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Grand Stafford Theater. Tickets range from $35 to $250.