A Volunteer's Experience
Barry Glenn, MD, Board-Certified Ophthalmologist and Fellow, American Academy of Ophthalmology
This past summer my wife Nancy and I spent three months at the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital. I had retired recently from the practice of ophthalmology in College Station, Texas, after 32 years, with a total of 40 years in medicine. Through a mutual friends of ours who is a member of The Order of St. John, we were encouraged to consider volunteering humanitarian medical work at the Hospital. We coordinated our time of service with the Medical Director of the St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital. She suggested the best time to volunteer at the Hospital would be July-September 2008.
I helped each weekday in the outpatient clinic. The clinics and Hospital treat all incoming patients with medical and surgical eye diseases. Patient fees are based on the patient’s ability to pay and without regard to ethnicity or religious preferences. The most common diseases seen are cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.
In the operating room (“theatre” in British terms), I observed surgeons using state-of-the-art equipment donated by various individual supporters of the Order’s work. These excellent surgeons would not be able to utilize their skills for patient benefit without this first-class equipment. All the surgeons appreciate the Order’s contributions in this vital area of the hospital’s mission. When appropriate, I gave input based on my practice experiences to the surgeons and the OR staff.
In addition to the clinic and operating theatre help and observation, I presented PowerPoint lectures on Basic and Clinical Sciences from our American Academy of Ophthalmology to the four residents-in-training to help them prepare for their board examinations. Dr. Nicholas Sargent, Consulting Ophthalmologist and Medical Education Director, frequently asked visiting doctors to give lectures to residents and medical staff on ophthalmic topics of the lecturer’s choice. I was privileged to present talks based on material provided by the Academy to the residents and medical staff.
What a thrilling and unique experience for Nancy and me to serve in such a special land and with such special people! During our time in Jerusalem we felt even safer than in many American cities. I encourage qualified graduating fellows and full-time practicing ophthalmologists to consider volunteering to help for one, two, or more weeks at St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital. Retired ophthalmologists could serve even longer. Just possibly, you will be more blessed than the people you came to serve!
The experiences of Barry and Nancy Glenn at St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital during the summer of 2008. This account is from Barry’s perspective on volunteering, assisting, observing, and teaching in the clinical arena at the Hospital. Future accounts will cover outreach, living quarters at St. John, walking to the Old City of Jerusalem, and the unique and complementary role of his wife Nancy in serving the St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital. Subsequently, Nancy became a member of The Order of St. John in November 2008.