VOSH CHAPTER OF THE MONTH – January 2020
VOSH-NE (Rhode Island)

Congratulations on an amazing trip and thank you for your continued service!
VOSH-Northeast’s last trip to Panama involved a multidisciplinary team of more than 150 students and doctors, helping over 4,000 patients!

Here are some words from Chapter President Dr. Carl Sakovitz:

“Our Panama 2019 mission was our sixth consecutive mission to Panama working with The Dorado Rotary Club of Panama City. This was one of our largest and most diverse missions regarding the number of missionaries and specialities offered to our patients.

For the first time in Panama we ran two simultaneous missions. Our main clinic was in a university in Penonome, roughly two hours from Panama City. It was a unique experience sharing the halls and cafeteria with some of the students taking winter session classes. Our second clinic site was in the remote mountain town of San Roquito roughly two hours from our primary clinic. We set up in a small agricultural school with the intent of serving the surrounding communities. We had no shortage of very needy patients and the biggest challenge was dealing with the intermittent power outages. The missionaries that worked in San Roquito found it to be some of the most rewarding VOSH work they had ever experienced.

We are returning to Panama this January to once again work with our friends at The Dorado Rotary Club. Dr. Rocco Robilotto and I are honored to lead Northeast VOSH along with the guidance of our outstanding advisory board. We are proud of the 33 year longevity of our chapter and the dedication of our members. Our chapter stands organized, motivated, and prepared to serve the needy of Central America now and for years to come.”

One Comment

  1. January 16, 2020

    Carol Peltier

    Wonderful work!
    Wonderful people

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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, 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 is 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.

Thus, VOSH/International is slightly moderating its overall guidance against clinics and travel issued in late March 2020 and renewed in January 2021. This will be reviewed and communicated on a quarterly basis.

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 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 hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

July 2021