As a resident physician at the Casey Eye Institute, I am afforded many opportunities in my training – not the least of which is the chance to learn from world-renowned faculty. I surgically train in an amazing facility and have the good fortune to be surrounded by an overwhelmingly supportive work environment.
But I have to say, my favorite aspect of training at OHSU hasn’t actually occurred within the walls of the Casey Eye Institute. It happens on the weekend, when I have a chance to volunteer on the Casey Eye Institute (CEI) Outreach Van.
Eye Care on Wheels
A mobile ophthalmology office, our team travels across the state offering free eye examinations to those who would not otherwise be able to access care. Through the hard work of the CEI van coordinator, Katie, and our fearless driver, Francisco, we’ve performed thousands of dilated eye exams and dispensed more than one thousand eyeglass prescriptions. The CEI van does screenings for diabetic eye disease, cataracts and glaucoma and, most importantly, connects our patients with local ophthalmology clinics if they are in need of treatment or follow-up care.
A Lasting Impact
In my three years as a resident, we’ve traveled beyond Portland to Astoria, Hood River, Sisters, and Central Oregon. I have so many great memories of my patients from the eye van, but my favorite memory is of a young man who was legally blind due to cataracts in both eyes. I eagerly referred him to a local ophthalmology practice for cataract surgery.
Little did I know that that this same patient would return to my clinic two months later on that very same referral! I walked into the exam room and we smiled with mutual recognition. It was an amazing moment. I was privileged to perform both of his cataract surgeries at OHSU, helping this man to see again. In his post-op visits, he told me his restored vision allowed him to get a job at a local restaurant and support his family once more.
It takes a village
The CEI van is so much more than the physicians who volunteer there. On any given weekend there are about 10 volunteers that help to register patients, take histories, hand out readers and keep things working smoothly. Without their efforts and generous donations from the community, we would not be able to do this important work. It is truly the best part of my job and embodies every reason why I first went into medicine.
Click here to learn more about the Casey van or to become a volunteer.
Stephanie Cramer is a third year Ophthalmology Resident at OHSU. Stephanie’s passion is to work in rural Oregon as an Ophthalmologist, and she enjoys volunteering on the Casey Eye Outreach Van. She will begin her professional career this upcoming August in Astoria, OR as an OHSU Faculty member.