Hello Everyone!

Northeast VOSH recently returned from a fun and successful week in Panama.   This was the first time for our full group to travel to Panama. Our Dental Section has visited Panama two times alone in prior years.  We where in full force with 53  Northeast VOSH members providing eyecare, audiology, and medical care in the community of Las Garzas de Pacaora, roughly ninety minutes outside of Panama City.  The additional eleven members of the Dental section returned to the coast to work in the community of Pedasi. We all united at the beachfront resort of Playa Blanca on the final weekend to spend time together and share the stories of success.

Our contact in Panama was established through VOSH International Past President, Ellis Potter, OD who responded to our request for assistance in Panama.  Ellis put us in contact with future Rotary District Governor, Franz Garcia de Paredes who after ten years of hosting VOSH groups knew exactly what to do.  Franz guided and empowered Jose Gonzalez Chea,  the  President of the El Dorado Rotary Club who agree to host our mission. This club had never worked with VOSH before but you would never know it. Much of the year long planning was via Skype and conducted in English which was priceless. Our Rotary and VOSH  combined team of roughly eighty five hit the floor running monday morning.  We could not have asked for a more prepared, hardworking, and enjoyable group of Rotarians to work with.

Here are the results of our efforts:

1,475 Eye Exams were performed with  glasses provided when indicated. 71 people were referred for additional eye care.

1,226 Medical Exams were performed with medication provided when indicated.

147 hearing exams were performed with 103 patients fit with digital hearing aides.

The Dental Section was hosted by The Office of The First Lady for the third consecutive year.  The dental team consisted of eleven Northeast VOSH volunteers.

Here are the results of their efforts:

303 Dental Exams with extractions and restorations when indicated.

The combined teams sponsored seven  SUNY Optometry school students , two dental students, and two high school seniors.  Introducing and educating young future professionals continues to be an important role for Northeast VOSH.

Panama and the El Dorado Rotarians welcomed us with open arms and rejoiced in the magic  of the mission.  We have the perfect chemistry to do wonderful things together in the years to come.

Thank you everyone who helped make this wonderful week possible.  Stay tuned for more to come from Northeast VOSH.

Carl / Joe / NEVOSH Board

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