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John A. Moran Eye Center Forms a Unique Partnership to Expand Quality Eye Care in the Caribbean

Ronnie Bhola M.D., representative from Trinidad and Tobago, Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Randall J Olson, M.D., CEO of John A. Moran Eye Center.

Sept 11, 2012– For decades, the John A. Moran Eye Center’s (JMEC) International Division has provided medical training and performed charitable surgeries throughout the world. It is now expanding its scope of services to the Caribbean, a region not previously served by Moran. With an unprecedented partnership, JMEC has committed to provide medical training, operational and strategic support to create a center of excellence in the area.

To address the growing need for quality and accessible eye care, on July 4, 2012 the John A. Moran Eye Center signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the San Fernando General Hospital in Trinidad and Tobago in conjunction with their Ministry of Health.

With a population of 1.2 million, Trinidad and Tobago (located in the southern Caribbean) has 30 ophthalmologists with a strong private practice base. Due to poverty, 70 percent of cataract surgeries go through the public sector, which leaves patients waiting for four years to get the procedure. Because of the long wait time, many people go through the private sector, which charges more for the surgery than in the U.S. This method leaves many without quality eye care.

“Last year, the major public clinic in Trinidad and Tobago performed just 300 cataract surgeries between their seven ophthalmologists. That’s less than one per week per physician,” says Randall J Olson, M.D., CEO of JMEC.

The MOU outlines plans to make San Fernando Hospital a center of excellence for the Caribbean and Central American region. This includes increasing the number of sub-specialists (currently they only have a retinal specialist and a pediatric ophthalmologist), modernizing the residency program, dramatically changing their surgical efficiency and quality, and increasing the number of patients treated.

“The work has already begun. Physicians from Moran have visited Trinidad and Tobago on two separate occasions and one of their physicians recently received training at our facility. With ongoing training, we hope to increase the number of cataract surgeries from 1000 in 2012 to 2000 next year,” said Olson.

To begin this process, Ronnie Bhola, M.D., a representative from the Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago made his first trip to the Moran Eye Center. His time in Salt Lake will be spent working with the Moran’s retina team on the latest surgical techniques and strategizing with administrators on how to improve operations at San Fernando General Hospital.

“Trinidad and Tobago is in a strong position to build on its foundation in the area of advanced eye care. We are excited about this partnership and are looking forward to tackling the pressing issues and creating an advanced sustainable eye care model,” Olson concluded.

This project expands JMEC’s international outreach to the Caribbean region. Currently, the JMEC and its partners provide clinical support and training all over the world including regions in Africa, Asia and central and South America. The JMEC International Outreach division aims to not only provide the best surgical care, but to train and mentor local physicians and medical staff, so they can continue quality care long after the Moran team departs.

About the John A. Moran Eye Center Division of International Ophthalmology The Division of International Ophthalmology at the Moran Eye Center has a proud tradition of providing eye care and critical training to areas of the world where specialized care is inadequate or non-existent. The Center’s history of outreach began 13 years ago with Dr. Alan Crandall’s annual visits to Africa, and has grown to dozens more physicians, residents and fellows who provide care to an ever increasing number of the world’s population in desperate need of sight saving treatment.