Meet Clinical Coordinator for the Dominican Republic – Dr. Patricia Tavares

Partnership In Action: Focus on the WSC Clinic in Moca, Dominican Republic

Thanks to a great deal of work and many people involved, the WSC Clinic in Moca, DR has been operating since 2014.  Dr. Patricia Tavares has been an integral part of the project since the beginning. World Spine Care Executive Director, Stefanie Ince, sat down with Pat to hear more about the lessons learned along the way.

Dr. Patricia Tavares

WSC: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Dr. Tavares. To get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

DT:  I am a chiropractor. I graduated from Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) 25 years ago.  I ran a busy solo practice for 14 years where I found I developed a real interest particularly in the problem-solving aspect of the work.  Ultimately, I was forced to give it up due to needing numerous hand surgeries.  Because I had a fellowship in orthopedics, it allowed me to teach.  I went to work at CMCC full time in 2012 as a primary clinician overseeing interns.   

WSC:  How did you get involved with outreach for spine care organizations?  

DT: I had done some work as a chiropractor with an organization called Health Mission Outreach (HMO).  This organization would provide dental, medical care and I would provide chiropractic care for free to underprivileged people across the GTA and abroad.  Then, while teaching at CMCC, I learned about the annual outreach to the Dominican Republic (DR), and I was really interested in joining this important volunteer activity.  I accompanied my old mentor and clinician, Dr. Wiltshire, to the DR in 2012.  It proved to be an experience that would change my career path.

Farmers offer their produce on a street in the Dominican Republic

WSC: How did you initially get involved with World Spine Care?

DT: In 2013 after my return from my second outreach to the DR, I was informed that Dr. Lopez, the Medical Doctor who hosted the CMCC outreach in the DR each year felt there was a need in DR for a more permanent solution for spinal disorders, and that he had been in touch with Dr. Scott Haldeman, who was the Founder of World Spine Care to see if it would be possible to set up something permanent.  I offered to get involved to help make that vision a reality.

There were a number of obstacles that stood in our way, but the day we launched the program was a very proud day.

Dr. Patricia Tavares

WSC: How did the WSC DR Clinic project start initially?  

DT: After contacting Dr. Haldeman, we discussed the things that needed to be done to start a clinic similar to the clinic that already existed in Botswana.  I went away and worked on the list.  I really had no idea the extent of the work involved, especially with getting the government of Dominican engaged in this project, as well as the fundraising that was required.  I persevered with the project, supported by Dr. Lopez, Dr. Haldeman, and Dr. Geoff Outerbridge.  I also worked to obtain support from local people on the ground with influence, like the Senator of the province, the Minister of Health, hospital directors, city mayors, and more.

We developed an MOU based on other agreements that were in place, and we worked to adapt them for the DR.  There were many obstacles along the way. The project started in 2013 and, we managed to get the clinic set up in 2014. 

After some time, and careful recruitment, WSC was very lucky to find a dedicated, one-year volunteer who was a great fit for the project, Dr. Stefan Eberspaecher.  WSC was incredibly lucky to have found Dr. Eberspaecher! He stayed for over two years, continuing to support and promote the sustainability of the project. 

Patricia Tavares, Stefan Eberspaecher, and Geoff Outerbridge in front of the rehab center that is the home of the new WSC clinic in Moca.

Continue reading Part 2 of the interview with Dr. Patricia Tavares here.

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