The John A. Moran Eye Center’s global outreach team has conducted vision screenings in high school gyms, in local clinics, and remote homes on the Navajo Nation, but screening potential patients through the windows of more than 400 cars was a first.
In the midst of an ongoing pandemic that has severely impacted the Navajo, Moran volunteers took extra safety precautions to support the Aug. 21 Teddy Bear Clinic hosted in Blanding by Utah Navajo Health System (UNHS).
Moran has transformed the lives of so many Navajo. From the children who receive glasses and suddenly improve in school and find out they love to read, to the elderly who regain their vision and can haul water and go to the store again, the blessing of improved vision is life-changing.
Byron Clarke, Utah Navajo Health System COO
Each August UNHS hosts the popular, Disney-themed clinic for children, rotating through the system’s five clinic sites. The goal is to provide essential vision and dental exams and to ease some of the fears children face when they go to a clinic or a hospital for an exam or procedure.
In recent years, clinics included tours through actual patient rooms where children witnessed common activities such as reading blood pressure, going through an X-ray, or getting a cast—all performed on a stuffed animal.
The Pandemic Challenge
Pivoting to make the best of a challenging situation, UNHS organized a drive-through event where families with children (all wearing masks) could drive by to participate.
Moran’s Global Outreach Division provided each child with a backpack, including a mask, hand sanitizer, sunglasses with cleaning cloths, and a pencil. As each car stopped, a Moran team headed by pediatric specialist Robert Hoffman, MD, asked questions to determine whether children were experiencing vision issues. If so, he gave them a thorough eye exam in the clinic.
The team pre-screened 420 children, conducted 20 exams, and made eyeglasses for eight children. Because the clinics had a strict one-patient-at-a-time, policy, the team scheduled the next 50 patients for an October clinic.
"We had a nonstop, interesting day," said Hoffman, who was joined by Moran resident Katherine Hu, MD. "It felt good to put my mouse ears on and work to make a difference for as many of the kids as possible on this visit. We’re looking forward to coming back in October. I’d like to thank UNHS for making it work so we can continue to meet the need for pediatric eye care."
Moran’s Teddy Bear Clinic team included Outreach Program Manager Lori McCoy and volunteer ophthalmic technicians Reuben Bainbridge, Derek Bunn, Julie Harmon, and Micah White.
About Moran's Global Outreach Division
The Moran Eye Center’s Global Outreach Division establishes and supports sustainable eye care solutions that empower individuals and at-risk communities worldwide through strategic partnerships, custom training programs, quality care, research, and health equity advocacy. Learn more.