THE MEDICAL TEAM
The teams are comprised of eye-related and operating room professionals and specialists, but, there are also room for approved guests who are willing to pay for their own flights, meals, and hotel accommodations. For approved, non-medical team members, a job will be assigned, depending on interests and needs of the medical team.
The team members work long hours in sometimes difficult and unfamiliar settings. Despite the sometimes-daunting environment, the shared experiences and satisfying work of helping restore vision to the cataract blind makes it a very worthwhile and satisfying experience. Volunteers should have a realistic understanding that although it is an honor and exciting to be a part of the medical mission, it is also a demanding and taxing experience.
Examples of tasks non-technical volunteers include: Administering pre and post op drops; assisting patients going in and out of surgery as well as; assisting in autoclaving the instruments.
A trip coordinator volunteers for each eye camp. All team members are encouraged to assist the trip coordinator when needed. (Maggie Carlson has been lead coordinator and organized the past four eye camps.)
When local conditions permit; Dr. Haines will try to include adult family members who are interested, and able to work.
THE SIZE OF EACH TEAM
It varies based on available space of the eye camp accommodations. In general, the team is the ophthalmologist (Dr. John Haines) and his wife (Joy), 2 Surgery Center nurses, and 1-2 people to autoclave the instruments for the surgical team.
LENGTH THE EYE CAMPS
The eye camps are usually one week in duration. This could include 2 locations in one or two countries.
TRAVEL EXTENSION EXPENSES BEFORE OR AFTER EYE CAMPS
Dr. Haines pays for all meals and lodging during the actual eye camp. ANY travel expenses of the team volunteers prior to or following an eye camp will be the sole responsibility of the individual volunteer. We ask participants to communicate their travel arrangements with the Trip Coordinator in order to facilitate arrival and departure schedules.
EYE CAMP LOCATION/S
Despite the overwhelming need for vision health care everywhere in the world, Dr. Haines will only travel to localities where he has established an alliance with a local ophthalmologist or medical entity. These ophthalmologists and/or entities will assure that they have the ability to pre-screen for appropriate patients in need of cataract removal and to give follow-up post-operative care of the patients. Most recently, that entity has been the People Eye Care Foundation in Thailand.
FUNDING OF THE GIVE ME SIGHT FOUNDATION (GMSF)
The Give Me Sight Foundation was set up as a not-for-profit foundation. Funds used from the GMSF are used directly for surgical and medical care of cataract patients.
Dr. Haines has always used his own personal funds to pay for his and his wife’s travel and hotel accommodations as well as paying for the team’s eye camp accommodations.
GMSF SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS AVAILABLE TO HELP DEFRAY THE COST OF RN’S AND SCRUB TECHNICIANS
The GMSF has recently established a “Nurse Scholarship Fund.” Dr. Haines encourages all participants to pay for their own round-trip airfare to the host country. Some suggested means of financing include: frequent flyer miles, workplace donations, etc. The GMSF may be able to provide, on a limited basis, a pre-determined allowance for nurses and scrub technicians on a trip-by-trip basis. This would have to be approved by Dr. John Haines and the GMSF board of trustees.
LOCAL LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
While we encourage team members to learn some phrases of polite greetings and necessary needs (like where is the bathroom?), this is not a necessity since there are translators in the host countries team.
We also encourage team members to become familiar with the local culture and customs prior to the eye camp. Some cultures are more modest in their dress codes. Please make sure that your clothing is culture appropriate.
WATER AND FOOD SAFETY
In general, we work in areas where the food supply is quite safe and safe water supplies are available. We suggest that participants inform themselves about the local conditions in the host country.
HEALTH PRECAUTIONS SUCH AS IMMUNIZATIONS OR MALARIA PROPHYLAXIS
Each country has different health precautions and we recommend that participants discuss their travel plans with their family physician. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain a website for international travelers that can be accessed through the CDC home page.
SURGICAL EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES
In general, we work in hospitals, which are able to provide anesthesia and a portable autoclave. Dr. Haines is asked to bring his own instruments. Dr. Haines and the medical coordinator determine -in advance- the equipment and supplies needed for each eye camp and will contact pharmaceutical and medical supply organizations who have an interest in donating supplies needed for them.