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VCOM-affiliated Oscar de la Renta Pediatric Care Center Opens in Punta Cana, Brings Free Healthcare to Children

On April 26, 2017, medical students, faculty and administration from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) attended the opening of the Oscar de la Renta Pediatric Care Center in the Verón, Punta Cana region of La Altagracia, Dominican Republic. The new, VCOM-affiliated facility will provide professional health services of the highest quality to the population of more than 15,000 children living in the underserved communities in and around Punta Cana. The event was attended by Dominican Republic's President, Danilo Medina, as well as Annette de la Renta, wife of the late Mr. de la Renta.

From left: Frank Rainieri, President of Groupo Punta Cana; Annette de la Renta, wife of the late Oscar de la Renta; Danilo Medina, President of the Dominican Republic; Cándida Montilla de Medina, First Lady of the Dominican Republic; Haydée Rainieri, Vice President of Groupo Punta Cana; Dean Sutphin, VCOM Vice Provost for International and Appalachian Outreach and Altagracia Guzmán, Minister of Health for the Dominican Republic, cut the ribbon at the opening of the Oscar de la Renta Pediatric Care Center.

"We are very pleased to open the Oscar de la Renta Pediatric Care Center and bring high-caliber medical care to the children of Punta Cana," said Frank Rainieri, CEO, Grupo Puntacana. "This facility means a great deal to us. It is the result of a shared mission with Oscar de la Renta to ensure that the children in our region will thrive for generations to come."

The facility will be managed in partnership with VCOM, Dominican Republic Ministry of Public Health, Servicio Nacional de Salud, Akron Children's Hospital and Grupo Puntacana Foundation. It will treat 50-60 children per day, ranging in age from newborns to fifteen years old.  The Oscar de la Renta Pediatric Care Center's services will be rendered free of charge, with a modest fee for laboratory services. The facility will diagnose and treat common illnesses, offer regular checkups and immunizations, take x-rays and scans, and track children's growth progress.

"VCOM is pleased to partner with the Grupo Puntacana Foundation, the Ministry of Health in the Dominican Republic, and others in order to advance medical care for the children of Verón,” said John G. Rocovich Jr., JD, LLM, VCOM Chairman. "We look forward to long-term progressive improvement in medical services through this important and innovative collaboration."

VCOM students on rotation in the Dominican Republic with Dean Sutphin, VCOM Vice Provost for International and Appalachian Outreach (far left), and Frank Rainieri, President of Grupo Punta Cana (center).

VCOM faculty and students began providing care for patients in the Dominican Republic in 2005, and in the following year, the initiative grew to develop a year-round, sustainable clinic that is managed by VCOM faculty, students, and local physicians. Through VCOM international outreach programs, students travel to the Dominican Republic and other countries with established VCOM-affiliated clinics several times each year, providing faculty-supervised care for those in need, gaining hands-on clinical experience, and improving their cultural awareness to better prepare them in their training as physicians.

The Pediatric Care Center was inspired by Mr. de la Renta's longtime passion for Altagracia, where he was a homeowner and dedicated his time to improving the surrounding community. He designed Tortuga Bay at Puntacana Resort & Club in 2005, the only hotel project that he ever worked on. Mr. de la Renta spent the final twenty years of his life in the Punta Cana region.