A momentous year for VOSH-Illinois and the SVOSH-ICO chapters. Recognized for leadership and marvelous activity, VOSH-Illinois is the August 2018 Chapter of the Month, the second time it has been so recognized.
Chapter President Andrew Kohn provided the description below:
In October 2017, long-time VOSH Illinois president, Dr. Tracy Matchinski, was sworn in as the new VOSH International president. Another long-time VOSH Illinois member and board member, Dr. Sandra Bury, was selected as the VOSH International Humanitarian of the Year. We are enormously proud of both of these amazing women.
In November, VOSH Illinois sent a group to Mexico City where over 1500 patients were examined over the course of a week. Another international trip to Bolivia took place in March of 2018. Active also in local clinics, are planned for 2018 as well.
Of particular humanitarian note were local clinics for the LGBTQ community whose eye care needs are too often ignored or put on hold for many reasons. Broadway Youth Center caters to housing insecure LGBTQ youth and Howard Brown Health Center offers low cost health care to anyone but particularly serving the LGBTQ population. We examined 81 patients and accepted outside prescriptions from 8 additional patients. Almost everyone needed glasses and a total of 81 pair of glasses were made and dispensed. The need is obvious in this community as we had to turn away 70 patients and therefore we are in the initial stages of planning a second clinic.
In new elections for VOSH-Illinois, faculty members from both the Illinois College of Optometry and the Chicago College of Optometry were among the newest board members elected.

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 and boosted, 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 and its variants are 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 or 2022.

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 Organization: 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.

Michael Ciszek, OD, dipl ABO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

December 2021