Dr. Luis Esmurdoc, of the Dominican Republic, wants to bridge the 1,000 miles between his country and the University of Central Florida College of Medicine with an interchange of students, service and ideas.

As the assistant rector of international affairs at Universidad Católica Nordestana (UCNE), Esmurdoc visited the COM campus on June 12 and 13. Dr. Ausberto Hidalgo, a pediatrician in Miami and father of UCF medical student Michelle Hidalgo accompanied Esmurdoc. Hidalgo helps coordinate permits and logistics for student medical teams visiting the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Judith Simms-Cendan, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of international health programs at the college, hosted the visitors.

“It is a pleasure to work with international colleagues who share a vision for excellence in patient care and education and an ever- increasing curiosity about the opportunities that lie ahead,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president of medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, after meeting with Esmurdoc and Hidalgo.

Esmurdoc wants to expand his university’s relationship with the COM, whose students and faculty have held health clinics in the Dominican Republic. In December 2011, a team went on a medical mission trip to the Cibao region. The group established a health clinic for the region’s residents and set up an electronic medical records system so each patient’s care can be followed on return trips.

“We are planning another trip on July 28 to the Duarte province,” said Simms-Cendan. The Duarte province includes the city of San Francisco de Macorís, where UCNE is located.

Building partnerships such as student exchanges between medical schools and continued visits by student health teams is important, Esmurdoc said. He also expressed interest in working with UCF’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.