Insights from a Flying Eye Hospital planning trip | Orbis

Insights from a Flying Eye Hospital planning trip

A lot of planning goes into making sure our Flying Eye Hospital projects make the biggest impact possible. Read on to pull the curtain back on how the Orbis team schedules and executes our sight-saving projects.

Last month, Orbis team members from around the world gathered in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to plan for the upcoming training project in August. These planning trips are crucial, as they give us time to schedule everything from ophthalmic training sessions to airport logistics for our Flying Eye Hospital.

The upcoming project will be our fourth visit to Mongolia, where access to high-quality, affordable eye care is limited. Mongolia has one of the lowest rates of cataract surgery in the world — only 1,400 per million people each year — and 90% of those surgeries are performed in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. With this upcoming project, we plan to improve the skills of surgeons, nurses and biomedical engineers from around the country so more people can access these life-changing procedures.

Airport Logistics

The Flying Eye Hospital is a fully accredited mobile teaching aircraft equipped with an operating room, classroom and a surgical simulation center, so participating eye care teams receive best-in-class training.

During our visit, the Orbis team visited the Buyant-Ukkha Airport to schedule important details for the plane’s arrival. Transforming the plane into hospital-mode requires specialized equipment, so pre-planning with the airport staff helps ensure things run smoothly in August. It also gives us time to check for other details like access to Wi-Fi, which is needed to livestream surgeries on Cybersight from inside the plane to doctors around the world.

Hospital Visits

One of the best ways for eye teams to sharpen their knowledge is to take part in actual surgeries. During our Flying Eye Hospital projects, expert Orbis Volunteer Faculty ophthalmologists travel to local hospitals to screen patients and perform surgery. With small groups of local doctors observing, Volunteer Faculty explain their surgical process and the complex techniques needed to save sight. As the project progresses, the Volunteer Faculty and local surgeons will eventually switch places so they can receive hands-on training. These surgeries are also streamed on our telemedicine platform Cybersight so doctors from anywhere can watch live.

On this planning visit, the Orbis team met with the heads of three local hospitals to schedule training, screening, and surgery days. We also got to check in on the simulation training room at Third Hospital, where we previously donated virtual reality training equipment.

Embassies and Ministry of Health

Orbis’s mission to build strong and sustainable eye care systems requires more than just training the next generation of eye doctors. To truly make lasting change, we work with government agencies like the Ministry of Health to integrate eye care into broader health services.

On this trip, the team met dignitaries at the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs and the US Embassy to iron out details for our arrival. This included logistics for processing Visas and signing important contracts. We look forward to working with these agencies as we continue to improve access to eye health services in Mongolia.

Cultural Experience

The team was also lucky enough to experience a bit of Mongolian culture during our visit with a dazzling show! Local performers impressed the crowd with their classic dances and music, while a few showed off their impressive throat singing abilities!

Flying Eye Hospital projects give us more than just an opportunity to improve eye care. They give us a deeper understanding of the countries where we work and open our eyes to the beauty of their colorful cultures.

Thank You

We are so grateful to all of the local hospitals, airports, and government branches in Ulaanbaatar who are working with us on the upcoming project. Together we can help bring crucial eye care access to people around Mongolia.

We also want to give a big thank you to Orbis Mongolia for being wonderful hosts and acting as our guides and translators during the trip. It takes a village to bring eye care everywhere and we really appreciate everyone for their hard work and dedication.

Be sure to stay tuned for more updates on this project when we return to Mongolia in August!

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