VOSH-Minnesota hit the century mark in missions as reported by long time chapter President and Jim Hess, OD, a 2016 recipient of the VOSH/International Harry I. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award.

After serving for 30 years of dedicated service as Chapter President, Jim stepped down over the last weekend. Filling the formidable shoes is newly elected VOSH-MN President Stacy Hinkemeyer-Colatrella, OD, FAAO. We salute Jim Hess and our best wishes to Stacy as she takes over the leadership role for VOSH-MN.

The Chapter of the Month cited VOSH-MN for its long history much of which had Jim Hess at its helm:

“VOSH-Minnesota is proud of its history and leadership. One of the original VOSH chapters, Minnesota went on its first mission in 1976 and has lead at least one trip per year ever since, traveling to 31 different countries. We just completed our 100th mission last year, and trip 101 ready to leave next month. Our history of leadership has provided 2 VOSH/International presidents, including its first, Dr. Russ Dorland”.

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