June 08, 2010

Volcanic Ash Does Not Impair ORBIS Vision

Blog submitted by Lynn Donovan.

The April 2010 Volcano Eruption in Iceland had a massive effect on world travel. It essentially held people captive wherever they were in their travels for approximately 10 days. During this time, ORBIS had Hospital Based Programs scheduled in Africa, and China. I would like to share my story of the effect it had on the staff involved in the Kampala, Uganda Program.

On Saturday, April 10, 2010 Dr Grace Prakalapakorn, and I traveled from Kaduna, Nigeria to Lagos from there we were to go to separate locations. Dr Grace was to go home to Atlanta, Georgia in the US, and I was to go to Kampala, Uganda for another Hospital Based Program. Upon arrival to Lagos, Dr Grace found her flights to be canceled. This caused a dilemma, as she was not to stay in Lagos alone, especially when she was not certain how long it would be before she would be able to travel back to the US. After discussion it was decided the best option was for Dr Grace to travel to Kampala with me, as there would be a confirmed hotel room to rest, and adequate Internet access to plan future travel.

Image1 It was then discovered that Dr Bernadette Martinez was delayed on travel for the program and was still in China trying to reschedule flights to arrive in Kampala. Dr Gordon Douglas, the Volunteer Faculty Surgeon for the Kampala program, was delayed as well, as he had also been re routed. Both Dr Bernadette and Dr Douglas were to arrive Monday, the first day of the program- screening day, but in the afternoon and evening respectively.

After many e mails with our Medical Director, Dr Hunter Cherwek, it was decided that Dr Grace, Dr Jonathan Lord, and myself would go to Mulago Hospital to explain to the Trainee Staff Doctors, and the patients that arrived for screening, that due to circumstances from the Volcanic Ash the doctors scheduled to see them would not be able to do so until the next day. It was a good thing that Dr Grace was there and able to cover in Dr Bernadette’s absence.

When Monday evening came around Dr Douglas and Dr Bernadette had both safely arrived in Kampala. The program went on with screening day on Tuesday and one less surgical day, however all 10 surgeries were performed in the two surgical days and all aspects of the Kampala Hospital Based Program were accomplished. Dr Grace was finally able to travel on Wednesday via the long way home. This was a very memorable event for me as I am sure there are stories around the world of the Volcanic Ash influence on the lives of others.

ORBIS was able to provide much needed services even when a natural disaster had occurred, and once again through teamwork and determination to achieve the ORBIS mission and goals of “saving sight worldwide.”