Dr. Ellis Potter awarded honorary degree for distinguished service, and delivered commencement address to Class of 2018 of Southern College of Optometry. 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (May 29, 2018) – Dr. C. Ellis Potter, a 1967 graduate of Southern College of Optometry – where he earned his Doctor of Optometry degree – and a longtime optometrist in Iola, Kansas, recently delivered the commencement address at his alma mater and accepted the college’s Doctor of Ocular Sciences honorary degree.

            “When considering commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients, we strive to select someone our graduates can be proud of as a representative of their profession,” said Dr. Lewis Reich, president of SCO. “Dr. Potter’s record speaks for itself. He has a long history of service, which we hope to instill in our graduates as they move on to serve communities across the United States and the world.”

            Potter previously earned a number of awards for his global service initiatives. In 2017, he earned the American Academy of Optometry’s Brien Holden Humanitarian Award, which recognizes significant contributions to improve eye care within a country or region, particularly humanitarian efforts in the nonprofit sector that build or support the development of sustainable eye care systems in developing communities. He also earned the VOSH International Dr. Harry I. Zelter Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, which recognizes exemplary humanitarians who have provided a lifetime of service by improving visual welfare through leadership, dedication, invention, public health, developing sustainable eye care, and furthering the understanding and correction of refractive error.

            In addition to his global service, Potter has served on numerous committees for the Kansas Optometric Association. He also served as editor of the organization’s Kansas Optometric Journal. He is active in the Rotary Club and is a member of the Rotary Action Group for Avoidable Blindness. In 2008, he joined with other Rotarians to form the Vision Quest International Foundation, which aims to educate the public about and alleviate refractive error blindness and which he previously led as president. Potter is now retired from private practice in Iola.

Southern College of Optometry’s board of trustees bestows the honorary Doctor of Ocular Sciences degree upon individuals who have rendered distinguished service of the profession of optometry and/or the field of vision science.

Congratulations Dr. Potter!

Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

VOSH/International recently consulted its US and International Chapters about the feasibility and timing to restart our humanitarian clinics. While the vaccination process continues with different levels of success depending on availability and acceptance, it is evident that vaccine inequity and the availability and reliability of data in several countries are issues we need to consider.

Even if already vaccinated, our chapters are still concerned about the wellbeing of our volunteers and patients.  Some chapters, are organizing clinics locally where they are better able to comply with the existing safety requirements and respective state/country regulations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is being experienced quite differently depending on state, region, country, vaccine availability, vaccine acceptance, and the spread of SARS-COV-2 variants. Most VOSH chapters are not holding clinics or traveling internationally in 2021.

Thus, VOSH/International is slightly moderating its overall guidance against clinics and travel issued in late March 2020 and renewed in January 2021. This will be reviewed and communicated on a quarterly basis.

If a VOSH Chapter choses to hold a clinic or travel internationally, we highly recommend that the chapter performs due diligence to comply fully with the requirements established by the visited country, ensures all VOSH volunteers are aware of and follow strict safety guidelines and all existing protocols and regulations of the country, and keeps the principle of “do no harm” embedded in all its decision making. As always, the wellbeing and safety for VOSH volunteers and our patients is of utmost importance and central to any decision-making process. We have published our updated clinic guidelines with best practices to be observed in this new context. VOSH chapters in specific countries are using protocols that need to be considered as well. You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here.

*VOSH/International is formed by autonomous US and international chapters that are fully and only responsible for their activities, fundraising and decision-making.  VOSH/International can only provide recommendations based on our best knowledge and information at the time.

Also please keep checking the following sites with official and most recent updates:

World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

US CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/when-to-delay-travel.html

US Government Travel Advise: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

July 2021