Campus News

Shoulder to Shoulder Global breaks ground on new health facility

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 16, 2024) — For more than 16 years, Shoulder to Shoulder Global (STSG) has made a difference in the health of the local population of Santo Domingo, Ecuador. A part of University of Kentucky's Global Health Initiatives in the UK International Center, Shoulder to Shoulder’s programs also have been transformative for UK faculty, staff and student participants who take part in the regular short-term experiences in global health. 

Through a partnership with the Hombro a Hombro Foundation, STSG opened the Centro de Salud Hombro a Hombro, a primary care clinic that serves the community year-round, in 2008. Since then, the clinic has provided more than 100,000 medical consultations and 25,000 dental consultations. UK’s Shoulder to Shoulder Global participants have seen approximately 23,000 patients themselves.

Representatives from UK’s office of Global Health Initiatives recently joined leadership from Centro de Salud Hombro a Hombro to break ground on an additional clinic building. The new facility is made possible by a USAID American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) award and will include:

  • an onsite medical laboratory
  • an adult and pediatric rehabilitation center that promotes tolerance, inclusion, diversity and self-reliance
  • enhanced oral health services
  • a new primary care ultrasound program
  • a women's empowerment center that fosters gender equality, leadership, self-reliance and socioeconomic inclusion
  • refugee support.

"This UK and Ecuador partnership has been rewarding to this Ecuadorian community's health and has offered hundreds of UK students, staff and faculty amazing service-learning opportunities," said Tom Young, M.D., professor in the College of Medicine who initially founded Shoulder to Shoulder Global. "The new USAID ASHA grant builds on 16 years of collaboration, expands health and wellness services, and opens new possibilities for expanding UK global outreach."

Centro de Salud Hombro a Hombro is located in a resource-limited community in Santo Domingo, where many families live in poverty. Diverse residents include Afro-Ecuadorians, refugees from Colombia and Venezuela, and migrants from other parts of Ecuador. Many families are single-parent families led by women in economic stress. Community assessments have identified significant public health issues including low immunization rates, limited access to prenatal care and family planning, high infectious disease rates, child stunting, increasing mental health and substance use disorder among adolescents, and teen pregnancy.

"This partnership has proved incredibly impactful for the local population," said Melody Ryan, assistant provost for Global Health Initiatives. "The expansion of this partnership and groundbreaking on a new facility is vital to continuing to provide access to care and to the improvement in the long-term health of the community in Santo Domingo.”

The clinic expansion is expected to be completed in 2025 and new health and wellness services will begin. In addition to offering much-needed additional services to the residents of Santo Domingo, the enhanced treatment rooms and equipment will bring more opportunities for diverse UK Healthcare specialties to participate in Shoulder to Shoulder’s enriching and impactful short-term global health experiential programs. 

Learn more about Shoulder to Shoulder Global at

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