Blog submitted by Neha Lalani
Neha Lalani is a student from ACS International School, through ORBIS' partnership with ACS Dillon was selected to participate in an internship for that allows students to take part in an ORBIS program overseas.
After working for a week in Da Nang with the crew of the Flying Eye Hospital both on the plane and in the local hospital their willingness to give up their whole Saturday to help those who needed it was the most kind-hearted thing I’ve ever seen.
The first thing I noticed about the clinic in which ORBIS was going to be working was the surprising lack of people outside. It was 9 in the morning and we had just arrived at a rural outreach program being carried out just outside Hue, the location of the old Imperial City in Vietnam. It wasn’t until we entered the eye clinic that we saw the first few people waiting for treatment. The program had been advertised on the radio so there was close to 500 people who had turned up for basic eye checks. Perry Athanason, the Communications Director of the Flying Eye Hospital who organized this outreach, took us down the single corridor and showed us the process each person went through.
As soon as a person entered the clinic they were taken to Visual Acuity where their sight was tested in each eye, if the staff ophthalmologist thought they needed extra examination they were directed towards one of the three examination rooms. We were then each assigned one room, to act as general assistants to the staff ophthalmologists who were doing examinations in that room. The first patients had already come and were being examined by doctors from either Hue Eye Hospital or Da Nang Eye Hospital. After a patient had been to an examination room and they had a problem with their eyesight they were seen by ORBIS staff. The staff in the patient care room either helped to schedule their surgery at one of the local hospitals or gave them some more information on their condition. There were a few lucky people who were having normal eyesight and were able to go home straight away.
The patients who were being seen at this particular outreach program were mainly older adults whose most common complaint I noticed was cataracts in varying states of severity. Dr. Hunter Cherwek the medical director aboard the Flying Eye Hospital soon took over an empty room turning it into an extra examination room allowing more people to be seen at one time.
The whole process looked so smooth and practiced like everyone had been doing it for years, it ran so smoothly. By the end the staff had seen 225 patients collectively, which was a lot more than the expected 200. The whole day felt like it was over in a blink, there was so much to keep everyone busy. A day very well spent indeed!