Today, I prepared myself for a long, emotionally charged day – patient selection.
This morning I’m one of three patient screeners. Armed with a list of 30 names and a bag of colored badges, I’m tasked with looking for patients seeking care from a particular cause of blindness and vision loss that local doctors are eager to treat with more skill – oculoplastics.
As I walk the hospital’s halls, patients eagerly wait. Each one listening intensely for the moment his or her name is called. I meet grandmothers with glaucoma, babies with strabismus, and children and adults with orbital defects resulting from the growth of a tumor, a stick to the eye or a car accident. The need is so great it hurts. I remind myself – few will be chosen. Yet, many will benefit from the knowledge and resources that our international medical team and volunteer experts will leave behind.
For now, though, only the most promising oculoplastic teaching cases are selected for further examination, treatment and surgery. Selection criteria are strict. Deciding who is chosen is the responsibility of Dr. Bob Kersten, renowned oculoplastic surgeon from Denver, Colorado. He meticulously examines each patient. Any number of reasons could separate one case from another. But each case chosen represents an important opportunity for local doctors to improve their knowledge, skill and confidence.
The day has come to an end. I’ve called all the names. Dr. Kersten has examined all the patients. In the days ahead, nine children and adults ranging in age 3 to 40 will undergo corrective surgery for lid reconstruction or the removal of an orbital tumor on board the ORBIS DC-10.