Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

More Pictures

Moldova 2010: Mission Complete
Almost the entire team:
Standing L-R: Alina Samson, Mike Mango, Britany Wright, Vannessa Klein, Diana Danu, Natalia, Dr. Horwitz, Dr. Glenn Garland, Caroline, Dr. Diana Uncuta
Kneeling: Radu, Patrick Galloway

Our last night together at Beer Mania

Stefan cel Mare (Moldovan National Hero) with a some random Americans in front :-)

Dr. Horwitz being Dr. Horwitz

Walking the Blvd.
Oxsana, Caroline, Brittany, and Patrick

Oxsana decided to climb the frozen fountain and Elise was gullible enough to follow.

Elise and Patrick

Chateau Vartely

Escape from Moldova!

Sunday March 7, 2010

Escape from Moldova
Diana and Oleg (our driver) came to get us from the apartments at 5:15am to go to the airport. We knew with 6 inches of snow on the ground it would be a challenge so Diana wanted to be ready extra early. And it was a wise decision! The van was stuck in the snow and couldn’t make it up the hill to our apartment. So we grabbed our luggage and met at the bottom of the hill. And then solidified our ability to work as a team when we spend 20 minutes in the freezing cold getting the van unstuck! Elise and I both hit the ground once :-D It was worth it thou! We were back on the road and headed to the airport to go home. We made it in plenty of time.

A 3 hour flight from Moldova to Moscow. Elise slept through breakfast and the Romanian-speaking flight attendants were not happy to go back and give her food, but they did. She scarfed it down in four minutes flat. We were already to run thru the Moscow airport for an hour trying to finding our gate, but luckily there was someone waiting to take us there. But going through security was a little different. They literally stopped the line to questions the Americans—What kind of electronics do you have? Why were you in Moldova and for how long? Have your bags been with you the whole time? It was a little ridiculous, but it just proves their general distrust of Americans. Even after the inquisition, Olga (the security guard…no really) was actually pretty nice to us. We even got a smile!

The 11 hour flight to Washington was long, but it ended up working out because I had an entire row to myself. I rescued Elise shortly into the flight from the over-cologned Russian ‘ambasssador’ she was seated next too. She’s a sweetie—she definetly drew little pictures of fruit and cows to help him fill out his US Customs form. Patrick was asleep in the back of the plane—on the shoulder of the man seated next to him. We got a good laugh out of that!

I was so happy to finally be back in the States! As we were going through passport control, I told the man he was the first Black person I’d see in 10 days. He smiled, gave me a high-five, and told me to get some barbeque. We met up Dr. Horwitz and Caroline and we all caught a quick 40 minute flight back to RDU.

There’s no place like Home!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dr. Garland and Vannessa were suppose to leave but missed their flight because they weren’t 90 minutes early (apparently they are very strict about that here).
While Diana sorted through that glitch, Elise, Patrick and I spent a very lazy morning in our apartments. Around noon, we met at the Hotel Nobil cigar bar (one of our favorite lounge spots). We decided it was time to get an international taste of McDonalds! Dr. Horwitz, Caroline, Radu, Oxsana, Elise, Patrick and I reacquainted ourselves with an American favorites. The food was good—just like home! Did you know they sell beer in McDonald’s outside the US? I thought that was funny! Since Patrick didn’t get to do any site-seeing before we put him to work, we decided to take a stroll down Blvd. Stefan cel Mare (the main street in Chisinau). Oksana was our guide this time. There was plenty of snow on the ground from the night and there’s nothing like a good snow ball fight while walking to the cathedral and ‘central park’ to see the Stefan cel Mare statue. Oxsana won! Patrick lost!

We spent Saturday evening at Beer Mania! I know the name doesn’t fit, but its actually a very classy restaurant with German food. We enjoyed great conversation and food and pride over the success of this trip. When the night was over we said our goodbyes to good friends!

Friday March 5, 2010

Elise and Patrick covered the most important points of Friday—tea with the ambassador, souvenir shopping, and the winery. I must have caught a 24 hour stomach bug because I was sick for most of it so I wasn’t much company. This was one day of the trip I’d like to forget!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ministries, Extractions, Ambassadors and Wine!


Brittany, Patrick, Dr. Mango and I (Elise) went to the Ministry of Health early in the morning to learn more about Moldovan public health policy.

Outside the Ministry of Magic

After the brief meeting, Dr. Mango and Brittany headed to Straseni, Patrick went with Dr. Garland and Vannessa to meet with the Moldovan military dentists and I headed to Diana Uncut's office to continue working with the children. With the help of Dr. Horowitz I sped through children performing mainly sealants and fillings. Right before we broke for lunch, I had a patient named Efrim on whom I did one filling on his molar, but the other molar needed to come out. Guided by Dr. Horowitz and a lot of prayer I PULLED MY FIRST TOOTH!!! I was so excited! Afterwards, Dr. Horowitz looked at me deadpan and said, "Elise, you're not a virgin any more." Haha, I feel like a real dentist now.

Efrim, whose tooth I pulled still loved me afterwards
I coaxed him through it by telling him he could go to McDonald's afterwards - which he had never been too, and giving him two bouncy balls.

Patrick with his patient at Diana Uncut's office

(How is it Friday already?!)

After a long night out after dinner with John Maxemchuck and company, we were invited to tea at the Ambassador's house since he was ill the night we were supposed to have dinner. Ambassador Chaudhry was an excellent host and it was great to visit with him in such intimate company. The residence has a lot of great art on the walls courtesy of the Art in Embassy program which allows Ambassadors and their families to chose artwork to be displayed on loan from American artist. The Ambassador and his wife have chosen to theme their collection after the Pacific Northwest where they are from and he gave us each a book with a description of their pieces. After the tea, he gave us a tour of the residence, including a fabulous wine cellar where he and his colleagues go to discuss matters that they don't want listened in on since the entire house is almost assuredly bugged. The Cold War apparently isn't over this far into the former USSR.

Dr. Garland, Dr. Mango, Amb. Chaudhry and Dr. Horowitz

Patrick, Brittany and Elise at tea

After tea, we went souvenir shopping at the local market and said goodbye to Dr. Mike Mango who is headed back to the states. We then headed about an hour outside of town to Chateau Vartely, a winery built in 2005. We had a great tour and tasting followed by a much needed dinner.

Patrick, Elise and Brittany on the winery tour

Dr. Garland, Vannessa, Patrick, Oxsana, Elise and Brittany in the wine cave

Dr. Horowitz and Patrick in the barrel room

Wine tasting - we tried 7 varieties!

Diana Danu and her husband Radu - our fabulous translators and probably the cutest couple ever

When we left the winery, it started snowing - and it hasn't let up yet!

We wish Dr. Garland and Vannessa a safe trip home tomorrow!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Feets and Toasts!

Dr. Mango has already given you the heads up on our meeting with the Minister of Health. Afterwards, the teams split up again. Dr. Mango, Oxsana, and myself went back to the orphanage in Strasheni while Patrick, Dr. Garland, and Vanessa went to the military hospital. Elise, Dr. Horowitz and Caroline dis some work at Dr. Uncuta's office. So...the ride to Strasheni was terrific! Oxsana was telling us about her research in endodontics (that's root canals for all you non-dental folks!), we talked about our families and a bunch more. Once we reached the orphanage we got straight to work! We saw 8 children total--practiced a few more restorations and sealants and extracted another tooth. I met the most amazing little boy, Petra! I was working on his maxillary molar (it was bombed out!) and I tried to tell him "No dare" (which means no pain) and tell him to raise his hand if it hurts (but he doesn't speak English). So I'm off to the races just working away and I look down there are little tears falling from his eyes. The kids are so amazing here! Most children would kick and scream and he just sat there and didn't say a word. They are all so brave! So I numbed him up real good but the decay was too deep and we ended up having to pull the tooth. He was actually laughing while Dr. Mango was extracting. He was so excited to see that tooth came out of his mouth. He gave me a hug and hurried off to lunch.

John Maxemchuck, an American who now lives in Moldova and owns the television station here took us to the exclusive Grill House. The food was delicious! I had mashed potatoes and the best steak I've eaten in life. Great conversations, great food, and great times in Moldova -- Feets and Toasts!!! (which is the American simplified version of how the Moldovans say Cheers) . Then it was time to celebrate.

Once again the 'kiddie table' hit the town. The after party at Dance Planet left something to be desired. As soon as we walked in the door, the bouncer was being a jerk. Col. Mix and I couldn't really get into the techno music so we were ready to leave. The After-after party was at Deja Vu. The bartenders definetly remembered us from the Tuesday night. We didn't set the place on fire this time, but the night was spectacular (no suprise!) ...and we paid for it in the morning....lets leave it at that :-D!

Ministry of Magic

Brittany, Elise, Patrick and myself had the joy to attend the Ministry of Health, Republic of Moldova. We met with Valeriu Sava MD PhD MPH who was Head of the Department.
We sat around a table with 2 other officials and our wonderful interpreter Radok. We discussed our mission here and what we wanted to accomplish. He told us that in 2001 he stayed with the Vice-President of United Health care and studied how insurance works in our country. I was able to tell him that my next door neighbor is President of United Health care. He spoke to us in English and Moldovan. He described how their public health system works and that they do have similar programs as medicare and medicaid to help the children and the elderly. They have minimum funds from their taxes to distribute among all the programs.

He sincerely asked several times what we would recommend to help his country.
We talked about fluoridated water as the best solution and that we have similar problems in both countries from the urban to the rural areas. They have several cities that have too much Fluoride in their drinking water.

A major differences in our culture applies to service. Their culture is from the Soviet times or communistic times where no one helps anyone and no one volunteers. They hold on to their possessions (of which they have so little). We discussed that other people in Moldova see what we are doing and that they will want to do the same. I said a better approach is to change the children and get them to volunteer at elderly houses during the school year.

Their medical school students must work in the public health for 2 years after school.. I recommended that they should do the same for their dental. Dr. Horwitz and I discussed that this would be the best way to get dentist to work in under privileged areas in North Carolina and save tax payers millions vs. building a new ECU dental school.

We left with a better understanding of their health care system and realized that we have the same problems in America. Their is never enough money to help everyone, but you do the best you can do for the most.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Americans and Moldovans!

Day 4: Wednesday March 3, 2010

Elise hit all the high points from Wednesday. But I just noticed a few differences between Moldovans and Americans today. After struggling to get out of bed this morning and waking up with a headache we went to the 'McDrive' at McDonalds. All the Americans ordered coffee, but the Moldovans didn't. I didn't think much of it at first but they knew something we didn't. There's no such thing as fast food and eating in your car in Moldova. The roads have tons of potholes and as we were bouncing up and down on the way to Strasheni--coffee and sugar was flying everywhere.

Once we arrived, we did our photo-op and interviews and then got to work. I was so pumped about the extractions that I jumped on the opportunity to do it again. This time...not so much. Victor, my patient, cried his way out of getting the extractions. No amount of reassurance helped him (plus he didn't understand English). Oh well...

I worked with Oxsana (the PhD student) today and we had our ipod shuffles playing. She's shy and reserved, but very sweet and funny. I died laughing when Coolio's 'Gangster's Paradise' came on and she started rapping the lyrics to me. We were having too much fun! I guess Moldovans and Americans aren't that different after all....