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

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