Blog by McKenzie Price
McKenzie Price is a the the Flying Eye Hospital Coordinator at ORBIS
As the Flying Eye Hospital Coordinator, I am responsible for coordinating and managing communications between ORBIS’s diverse, 22-member Flying Eye Hospital team and all of ORBIS’s global offices, including our Headquarters in New York.
I provide programmatic and logistical support for our busy ophthalmic medical programs, the planning visits in preparation for these medical programs, and for Goodwill Tours. Goodwill Tours allow the Flying Eye Hospital team the opportunity to travel with the DC-10 aircraft and speak personally about the positive impact we have had in the lives of patients and healthcare professionals we have trained and worked with around the world.
These tours are an important part of what enables the Flying Eye Hospital – 30 years on – to continue implementing strong medical programs and host visitors, including present and potential donors, government officials, school children, and the media onboard the plane.
In September and October, ORBIS held its last two Goodwill Tours of 2012 in Doha, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Al Bateen Executive Airport hosted the Flying Eye Hospital in Abu Dhabi and our presence was in conjunction with the Routes Conference – a world-renowned forum that organizes business and networking events for the aviation industry. Here, ORBIS held the distinction of being named the Routes Charity of Choice!
ORBIS’s high profile at the Routes Conference will help the Flying Eye Hospital gain support for our efforts to continue using the aircraft as a tool to save the sight of people worldwide and train eye care professionals throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
For my part, planning for these two events meant months of phone calls, email exchanges, and other preparatory work with the ORBIS London office and ORBIS’s Aircraft Operations Department, not atypical for me, which requires working with almost every ORBIS office and department. I love my job and the opportunity, on a daily basis, to work with colleagues from all walks of life, all cultures, and all professional backgrounds, who come together to support ORBIS’s mission.
Will the Flying Eye Hospital be able to land, park, and take off from the designated airport – in Doha, in Ndola, in Da Nang, in Ulaanbaatar? What is the security protocol for bringing the team, made up of 13 nationalities, to the plane to work every day, and then hosting medical patients (adults and children), ambulance drivers, the media, local doctors and nurses, foreign Ambassadors, officials, and other visitors? How do we begin the conversation with our local medical partners on what ophthalmic subspecialties they need support and training in and then – in the process – often find that we learn from each other, from the host country’s medical professionals to ORBIS’s own medical staff to the accomplished medical faculty who volunteer their time to ORBIS? How do we maintain relationships over 13-hour time zones and thousands of miles with those in the health, aviation, charity, business, education, and government industries that hold our common goal of promoting and advocating for improved eye care and training?
These are all questions that my colleagues must work together to answer in order to run a successful Medical Program and a Goodwill Tour. As the Flying Eye Hospital begins its last program in 2012, ORBIS will continue to ask hard questions, treat avoidable blindness, and train and work together with those who do the same.