March 13, 2014 By David Stacy

Our 2014 mission took place from February 24-February 28 at the Centro Amah Altares, a community center in South Hermosillo. Although Hermosillo is the capital of Sonora, Mexico and many people have access to services, those most in need do not.

The VOSH ARIZONA 2014 mission served 3617 patients in need of eye care. We dispensed 1617 prescription glasses and 1423 reading glasses. Each person received sunglasses and cases for their glasses. Special glasses are being made by volunteer labs and opticians in America for 137 patients whose needs could not be met by our inventory of glasses.

Our VOSH ARIZONA volunteers from Tucson and Phoenix were joined by volunteers from North Dakota, Oregon and California. We had 14 student volunteers from the Arizona College of Optometry at Midwestern University in Phoenix who not only observed but were able to help in auto-refraction and refraction. Several of the second and third year students have joined us before. We had 8 volunteer O.D.s, two opticians and a return volunteer ophthalmologist. We came by car, by plane and by bus. Many of our volunteers came a day early to set-up and prepare our site for the more than 3500 patients we would see in the four days of our mission. We were joined again by our friend and mentor, Ed York, a very active ‘operations and do whatever needs to be done’ guy. This year he not only tended to our needs at the mission itself but he and his colleague, Reyes, from Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico generously provided an large fifth wheel travel trailer where we could all have lunch and a place to meet at the end of our long day’s work. After our final day everyone pitched in to pack and prepare our glasses and equipment for storage in Hermosillo.

Our wonderful and caring sponsors and hosts again were the Pitic Rotary Club that work closely with SEDESSON and DIF, the Sonoran government health and human services organizations, to provide a site for our work, meals and lodging. In the past we have been fortunate to have those expenses paid but since government funding was reduced, the mayor of Hermosillo stepped in and paid for lunches at the site. The families of Pitic Rotary and students from the local bilingual schools in Hermosillo helped us guide patients through the process and translated for those of our group who didn’t speak Spanish. In addition Rotary dispensed reading glasses, sunglasses and cases to all. Our hosts provided a wonderful asado (bar-be-que) and recognition dinner for us midweek.

We were fortunate to be able to expand our collaboration with the University of Arizona Ophthalmology Department. Joe Miller, MD, MPH, head of the Department of Ophthalmology, and Billy McSwain, MD, resident in Ophthalmology worked with VOSH ARIZONA for two days. They were joined on Thursday and Friday by their fellow faculty colleagues, Dan Twelker OD PhD, Richard Ober, MD, retina specialist, and Jeffrey Kay, MD glaucoma specialist. Dr. Kay’s team performed 120 laser surgeries (iridotomies, trabecloplasties, iridoplasties, capsulotomy, and diabetic focal and pan-retinal photocoagulation procedures) at the the Hermosillo Lions’ Gerson Gonzalez Clinic.

Between missions VOSH Arizona orders reading glasses for Pitic Rotary who distributes them monthly to senior citizens facilities, prisons and schools.

Fortunately for us the weather was pleasant for both the volunteers and patients who waiting in line after line for the opportunity to have improved vision and eye care. We worked four very long days to serve as many patients in need as possible.

Throughout the year our volunteers give of their time to order glasses, enter them into our inventory system in preparation for our mission and make sure that we have everything we need for our work. Here are the people and organizations that help us accomplish what we do. ‘Un monton de gracias’ or many thanks to all.

ALERT – Arizona Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center, Tucson, AZ (RX glasses, readers, sunglasses and eyeglass cases)

Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation, Phoenix, AZ (RX glasses, readers and sunglasses)

– Northwest Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center (RX glasses and sunglasses)

– Lions New Jersey (sunglasses)

– Lions Virginia (sunglasses)

– Lions Texas (sunglasses)

– Restoring Vision (readers and sunglasses)

– Don Bullock (readers)

– Griswold Eye Care (frames and eyeglass cases)

– National Vision (loan of PediaVision)

Providing 137 pairs of specially made lenses:

– DBL Labs, St. Cloud, MN

– Precision Optics St. Cloud, MN

– Robert Mulgrew, O.D. of Tucson, AZ

– Dorine Stuart of Tucson, AZ

– Lincoln Daynes, O.D. and Andy Daynes of Sierra Vista, AZ

– Adam Lofgran, O.D. of St. George, UT

– Leslie Falcon, O.D. of Phoenix, AZ

– Stepanie Mastores, O.D. of Phoenix, AZ

– Kaila Osmoterly, O.D. of Phoenix, AZ

– David Stacy, O.D. of Phoenix, AZ

And a special thanks to American Storage of Tucson for a donated storage unit!

Report by Joe Miller 3/2/2014 : VOSH-AZ Hermosillo 2014

Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

Due to an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 infections, a new variant that is more contagious, and these being early days in the vaccination distribution, VOSH/International DOES NOT recommend that chapters participate in domestic or international eye and vision clinics at this time.

We reiterate that at a time when the coronavirus continues to spread quickly in many parts of the world and vaccinations are not yet available to local populations, the risk of close contact with patients in a crowded outpatient environment remains high.

If a VOSH Chapter or VOSH volunteer chooses to hold a clinic against our best guidance, this is done at your own risk, by your own decision and should be in line with current local/national government rules.  VOSH/International would like to reiterate that 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.  You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here

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 patience in these unprecedented times, hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

January 2021