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Story on VOSH doctors in the Providence Journal:
Others May See
Reproduced here as a backup.
So that others may see
Three eye doctors donate their time and expertise at a
clinic in Nicaragua, where, over a four-day period, they administered about
2,800 eye examinations and distributed about 2,300 pair of eye glasses.
By SUZANNAH GONZALES
Journal Staff Writer
Fatima Calero, a 13-year-old from Nicaragua, had only one eye before she met
optometrist Lawrence T. Ginsberg.
While her left eye was healthy and intact, a concave eye lid covered her empty
right eye socket. The badly infected eye was removed by a Nicaraguan doctor when
she was four-years-old.
``I remember her face perfectly,'' said Ginsberg, who resides in Barrington and
works in East Providence. She is pretty, he said, and has long, dark hair. He
remembered that her appearance made her sullen and introverted.
But now, she is smiling, thanks to Ginsberg who donated $150 to pay for a
Calero is one of nearly 3,000 patients who received free eye and medical
treatment in Nicaragua during the third week of January, when 60 eye and medical
doctors, nurses, optometry students from State University of New York, and
translators traveled to Nicaragua.
The group was on a mission organized by the Northeast chapter of VOSH (Volunteer
Optometric Services to Humanity), a national organization of optometrists and
others dedicated to providing vision care to people who are not able to afford
or obtain it.
They set up a clinic in a school next to the central square of La Concepcion,
Nicaragua, known to locals as La Concha.
About forty miles from the capital city of Managua, the clinic consisted of a
registration area and ten rooms for pre-testing, eye exams, an eyeglass
dispensary, medical exams and a pharmacy.
Approximately, the group gave 2,800 eye exams, distributed 2,300 pairs of
glasses and 14 wheelchairs, conducted 1,000 general medical exams, dispensed
$10,000 worth of medication, and performed 20 cataract surgeries during a four
The doctors brought their own supplies and medication, and each paid for their
airfare and lodging.
Hundreds of young and old Nicaraguans waited in line on each of the four days to
see the doctors from 8:30 a.m. to about 5:30 p.m. Some arrived at the clinic at
1 or 2 a.m. to wait in line while others waited for half the day in the sun to
To thank the doctors, some of the patients gave letters, fruit and handmade
candy. Ginsberg remembered one woman who blessed him in Spanish throughout her
``These people were just really appreciative of us being there,'' he said.
``Virtually none of them had eye exams in their life.''
According to Northeast VOSH chairman Carl Sakovits, an optometrist who works in
Bristol and lives in Jamestown, glasses, eye surgery and treatment for eye
diseases are not available to the general population in Nicaragua, a Central
American country that has suffered natural disasters, such as Hurricane Mitch in
1998, and a declining economy.
Nicaraguans are very limited in terms of medicine and the country lacks basic
medical equipment. The medical specialists that do exist tend to treat the
For Ginsberg, his first trip to Nicaragua was a life-change experience and the
highlight of his professional career. ``Where we live, what we have, it's easy
to take for granted,'' he said.
First-timer Stephen Grimes, of Portsmouth, returned to Rhode Island with similar
reflections. ``It was the most rewarding experience of my professional career --
bar none,'' Grimes said. ``I'll definitely go back -- in a heartbeat.''
Grimes, who works in Middletown, performed 20 cataract surgeries during the trip
in the only hospital in Masaya, Nicaragua, located about 30 minutes from the
He used a technique that he has not used since the 80s due to the lack of
technological resources in Nicaragua. While in the U.S. technology allows Grimes
to make a smaller incision and avoid using stitches, he made bigger incisions in
Nicaragua and used five to eight stitches.
``Everyone I saw was pretty desperate,'' said Grimes, who traveled to Nicaragua
with his son, Matthew Grimes, 23. ``It did make me appreciate what I've got
here, personally and professionally.''
For Sakovits, this past trip was his 13th VOSH mission and third to Nicaragua. A
Jamestown resident and Bristol eye doctor, Sakovits took his first trip in 1987,
when he was a third-year optometry student at the State University of New York.
``It's very much enhanced my life. It's become part of my life. It's become
central to my well-being. Not only do we give a lot, but we get a lot,''
Sakovits said. ``I guess you can say it's becoming an addiction, but it's a very
``The long and short of it is you get this group of people together and miracles
happen,'' he said.
Ginsberg, Grimes and Sakovits were three of 19 Rhode Islanders on the trip. The
others that traveled to Nicaragua were Peter Eudenbach and Harry Eudenbach of
Newport; Jessica Andreozzi, Rocco Andreozzi, Joe England, Maryann England, Sarah
England, James Donnely, Diane Forest, Geherly Gomez, Ed Greenan, Susan Seidler,
William W. Smith III, Rosita Smith-Viduarre, and Eileen Tiexiera of Jamestown;
and Diane Brown-King of Smithfield.
© 2000 The Providence Journal Company
Produced by www.projo.com
2012 Panama & Tennessee
2010 Nueva Esperanza
2009 Nueva Esperanza
2000 La Concepción
1997 Lake Yohoa
1994 Vera Paz
1989 San Manuel
1987 Santa Rosa
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