Help for a Better Life: DCMH Ophthalmologist’s Medical Mission to the Dominican Republic
Edward Bedrossian, Jr., M.D.
Drexel Hill, Pa. – Edward Bedrossian Jr., M.D., chief of Ophthalmology at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, has been going on medical missions to the Dominican Republic since 2004. On one of those visits to Haiti, he provided assistance after the 2010 earthquake that devastated parts of the island. This spring, he traveled to the Dominican Republic as a participant in the Volunteer Health Program, at the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC). During the five days he spent there, he operated on 20 patients — including four children with congenital droopy eyelids, three adults in need of socket reconstruction, one child with a tumor behind his eye, one adult with a congenital corneal tumor, and 11 with conjunctival masses requiring free conjunctival grafts. After he performed the surgeries he saw all the patients for their post-op care. Continued follow-up was overseen by local Dominican ophthalmologists.
This year, Bedrossian and nine other eye surgeons, plus 50 medical support staff including opticians, nurses, surgical techs, and ophthalmic assistants - examined 1,677 patients during the week-long mission. The staff screened up to 225 patients per day, giving those in need donated eyeglasses to improve their vision, antibiotic eye drops for infections, ocular lubricants for dry eye syndrome, and medication for glaucoma. Those requiring surgery were scheduled, with the procedures going on until 9 p.m. each day. “The people we treat, who may walk for up to 4 hours in their dusty sandals to see us, are so appreciative for what we do to help them live a better life,” Bedrossian says.
The ILAC mission center is run by an international Christian Ignatian-inspired collaborative healthcare and educational organization that exists to promote well-being and spiritual growth. Ten years ago, a new adjacent outpatient clinic was built with eight examination rooms, a pre-op room, a post-op room and three operating rooms to allow Dominicans who are unable to afford healthcare to be treated in a first-class health facility with dignity and with a holistic approach to medicine, encompassing the person’s mind, body and spirit. Bedrossian says, “I feel fortunate to be able to change the lives of so many people in such a positive way.”
The Dominicans were extremely grateful to Bedrossian for donating his time to help them. He recalls the story of a young girl, age 8, who was always picked on in school because she had droopy eyelids. After Bedrossian completed the surgery, she looked at herself in the mirror and told her mom, “Now the kids won’t pick on me.” Then she turned to Bedrossian and said, in clear English, “Doctor, I love you.”
Many of the supplies that Bedrossian brought with him on the mission — including gowns, drapes, surgical gloves, and sutures — were donated by Delaware County Memorial Hospital’s Operating Room staff.
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