How many of you hold missions in the Mayor’s home?


Active for 3 decades in VOSH-WI, chapter Vice President Jan Harmsen recounts the chapter’s latest of their 3-4 yearly clinics.
We salute VOSH-WI as the May Chapter of the Month led by Chapter President Mark Ebben. (nomination
s or self-nominations for chapter of the month can be made on the vosh.org website clicking on top menu >chapters then>Chapter of the Month>then orange banner.

Jan’s nomination is below:
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Personally I am proud to be a VOSH WI member for almost 30 years. VOSH mission work is a passion of mine. Here is a little bit about our group:

VOSH-WI is 17 members made up of dedicated optometrists, paraoptometrics and support staff. Yearly, three to four missions to various third world countries are shared with those in need.

Our most recent mission was held in Juan Santiago, Dominican Republic in January this year. With 3 optometrists and 4 support staff, 910 persons received care. Due to the poverty in this city, the best available space for our clinic was the mayor’s home. His car port was a registration and exam area. One of the bedrooms was also used as an exam room. His living room was the dispensing area. It worked out well, flexibility at it’s finest! My team has concentrated on the providence of the Dominican Republic next to the Haitian boarder for the past several years. This is the poorest region of the entire country. 90% of our patients are illiterate and the glasses we provide enable them to enroll in a government program for adults learning to read and write. The impact has been nothing short of amazing.
WI VOSH missions are also held in Haiti and Nicaragua on a regular basis.

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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