Under the direction of Moran Drs. Brad Katz, Jeff Pettey, Bill Barlow, and Geoff Tabin and in partnership with the Fourth Street Clinic and the People’s Health Clinic in Park City, Moran surgeons, medical technicians, and staff donate their services to provide surgery⎯ at no cost⎯to people in need, one special Saturday each year.
In addition to all their other local and international charitable work, on Saturday Surgery Day the Moran Eye Center donates valuable operating space so that faculty and staff can treat patients with debilitating vision problems. Qualifying patients are referred from the Fourth Street Clinic in Salt Lake City and the People’s Health Clinic in Park City. Patients typically arrive with advanced cataracts. Following surgery, they are able to return to self-sufficiency.
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“This is the first time we’ve been able to offer these surgeries at no cost, and we hope this outreach effort becomes a yearly service to the community,” said Jenifer Jewel, one of the two fourth-year medical student organizers of Saturday Surgery Day.
“It took a lot of work and organization to get everyone and everything to come together in order to provide the surgeries at no cost to the patients,” said Jewel. “But the work was worth it and it’s wonderful that we were able to provide this service to our community.”
The patients who our Moran surgeons evaluated and treated on Saturday Surgery Day have debilitating vision problems and need surgery to repair damage to their eyes and vision system with the aim of regaining sight. These situations call for the use of hospital-based surgical suites with nurses, anesthesiologists, surgical supplies, hospital support, and more. As the Moran Eye Center is a nonprofit organization, our resources are limited, which requires that we rely on the generosity of many donors to carry out this work. If this is a cause you would like to support, please follow this link: Giving Opportunities.
The first Saturday Surgery Day was held on Saturday, February 4, 2012, where roughly 40 faculty and staff at the John A. Moran Eye Center provided 13 free surgeries to patients without insurance and the means to pay for care. Physicians, nurses, technicians, medical students, and staff donated their time to care and to provide surgical intervention for patients who were in desperate need of cataract surgery.
Organized by two University of Utah medical students, these surgeries were months in the making. Fourth-year medical students Jenifer Jewel and Brian Stagg worked tirelessly for almost one year to get time, space, and supplies donated. Among the groups funding the event were Abbott Medical Optics (AMO) and ALCON Research Institute, which volunteered medications, lenses, and equipment. The Lions Eye Bank and Beehive Bail Bonds donated funds to pay for additional costs. A number of key smaller vendors donated supplies as well.
All patients who received free cataract surgery were pre-screened at the Fourth Street Clinic or People’s Health Clinic and referred to an ophthalmologist, who then referred them to the free service.
The Moran Eye Center would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time and skills to make this service available to the community.
William R. Barlow, M.D. Dr. Barlow is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Utah Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and an experienced comprehensive ophthalmologist and ocular surgeon with a specific interest in cataract, complex cataract, and refractive eye conditions. He provides medical and surgical care for these conditions as well as general ophthalmic concerns.
Bradley J. Katz, M.D, Ph.D. Dr. Katz is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and holds an Adjunct appointment in the Department of Neurology. He specializes in neuro-ophthalmology and evaluates patients with diseases that affect the optic nerve, diseases that affect eye movements, and neurologic diseases that affect vision. He provides medical and surgical care of eye conditions including cataract, glaucoma, diabetes, and macular degeneration.
Jeff Pettey, M.D. Dr. Pettey is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Utah Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences who specializes in comprehensive ophthalmology, complex cataract, and anterior segment surgery. He is also active in community outreach as a coordinating opthalmologist for the Fourth Street Homeless Clinic in downtown Salt Lake City and a volunteer ophthalmologist at the People’s Health Clinic in Wasatch County.
Geoffrey Tabin, M.D. Dr. Tabin is a Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Co-Director of the International Ophthalmology Division at the John A. Moran Eye Center and the University of Utah, specializing in cornea, cataract, and refractive surgery. Dr. Tabin is a volunteer ophthalmologist at the People’s Health Clinic in Park City where he sees patients with all types of eye diseases, scheduling those who he can for surgery at the Park City Hospital, where he performs volunteer surgery every other month for free.
Each of the patients who received care had advanced cataracts in one or both eyes. Some of the patients had lost their jobs due to their poor eyesight, which resulted in the loss of insurance and necessary funds for the surgery.
This is exactly what happened to cement truck driver, Kevin Scow of Salt Lake City. He lost his commercial driver’s license (CDL) last May because of a cataract in his right eye. “I was completely blind in my right eye, which resulted in the loss of my job,” said Scow.
Without a job and insurance, Scow didn’t have the funds to pay for cataract surgery. He was referred to the Moran Eye Center by the Fourth Street Clinic thinking he would be required to pay and not knowing how he would do so. “It was unexpected to find out I was approved for a free surgery, and I’m very grateful and appreciative for this service and for everyone who volunteered their time to help with my surgery,” he. “It blows my mind that I can walk out of here today with my sight back.” Scow is now looking forward to getting his CDL and returning to his career as a cement truck driver.
Robert Mulvey “I’m very thankful to the doctors and nurses for volunteering their time to help me. I wouldn’t have been able to get this surgery otherwise,” said Robert Mulvey shortly before receiving cataract surgery on both eyes.
Six years ago, Mulvey started noticing blurriness in his vision but didn’t realize how bad it was until he failed the eye exam required for a commercial driver’s license. He had been working towards becoming a school bus driver, but without the correct license, he was unable to continue driving. Without a steady job and without insurance, Mulvey wasn’t able to visit a doctor to receive the intervention he needed to correct his vision. Referred by the Fourth Street Clinic, Mulvey was approved for free cataract surgery for both of his eyes.
He’s now looking forward to getting back to work and being able to see clearly. As he says, “I just want to walk down the street without tripping and read the menu at a fast food restaurant”⎯ it’s the simple things in life he’s most looking forward to.
All clinical services and programs are part of University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics