In October, Dr. Doug Villella, an optometrist and executive director of Vision for the Poor – an organization delivering eye care to low-income populations in Latin America and the Caribbean – contacted me about purchasing an autoclave for an eye surgery facility under construction in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As Dr. Villella described Vision for the Poor’s mission, I knew a giving opportunity had come knocking at my door.
Vision for the Poor
Vision for the Poor has built five eye hospitals in Guatemala, Haiti, and Nicaragua, where native ophthalmologists and optometrists treat in excess of 100,000 patients each year. Using the model developed by India’s Aravind Eye Care Hospital (the largest such facility in the world, which has established the gold standard for sustainable eye care), Vision converts low-volume, inefficient eye clinics into high-volume, high-quality, self-supporting medical centers within one to two years.
The only obstacle to eliminating blindness in the world’s poorest regions is the prohibitive cost of hospital construction and equipment. Once a hospital is built, Vision for the Poor mentors the eye doctors and their staff until the facility is self-supporting. The hospital is owned and administered by a non-profit entity set up by Vision in each country. The cost-recovery model is simple: Patients who can pay subsidize the care of those who can’t.
Vision for the Poor helps eliminate avoidable blindness in Latin America and Haiti
It was hard to resist such a worthy cause, so with Tuttnauer’s backing, we decided to donate an autoclave. Tuttnauer is known for its cutting-edge sterilization technology, but for rural areas or developing countries, we often recommend the simpler semi-automatic autoclave, which is easier to operate and maintain. So we donated a Tuttnauer semi-automatic autoclave.
The semi-automatic autoclaves are often used in rural healthcare facilities
I was subsequently delighted to receive this thank-you note:
"On behalf of the poor, visually needy people we serve, thank you for the donation, which will be placed in the operating room at our new social-service eye hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. With the support of Vision for the Poor, Visualiza and the International Eye Foundation, and using Visualiza and Aravind as models, Dr. Pierre DeCastro and Dr. Tania Medina are converting their private practice into a social-service eye hospital designed to reduce avoidable blindness in Port-au-Prince.
Your generous gift frees up scarce funding to help ensure the success of this project."
What a great way to end a successful year at Tuttnauer!