VOSH-Connecticut held its eighteenth eye care clinic in Emporia, Virginia on June 20-23, 2019. This was the first year of service to this location in conjunction with RAM USA (Remote Access Medical) and the first location of service for VOSH-Connecticut here in the United States.

There were 28 volunteers on this mission from Connecticut as well as from New York, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Texas, Maryland, South Carolina and Washington. There generations of the Blondin Family participated in the mission and donated toys and stuffed animals for children and baseball caps were also distributed to those in need.

Blondin Shea Eye Care donated approximately 300 new eyeglass frames and VOSH-CT purchased and donated 500 pairs of sunglasses and readers. The dispensary once again was run very organized and efficiently by long-time VOSH-CT Optician Mareshah Lynch who provided extraordinary service under challenging and hectic circumstances.

Roger Mahieu, Jr., owner of True Value of Litchfield, once again donated 100 nail bags which were distributed to mission members and volunteers and used to hold eye glasses and sunglasses, and we are most appreciative of his continued kindness and generosity and support of our mission. We also continue to be very appreciative of the support our mission has received from the local area Lions’ Clubs including Harwinton, Litchfield, Branford and Windsor among others.

The RAM clinic was held for the third year at the Greenville High School, 403 Harding Street, Emporia, VA 23847. The dental and vision sections were located in one area of the school along with a medical section and lunch room area for the volunteers.

Over the two-day clinic period, we saw 421 patients, which we were told was a VOSH-CT record, broken down as follows:

Saturday
284
Sunday
137
Total
421

The number of vision patients exceeded the number of dental patients seen and represented approximately half of the total 863 seen at the entire clinic.

Emporia, VA has been the county seat of Greensville County since 1971. It has a current population of approximately 5,300, making it the second most populous city in Virginia. The population is approximately 62% African American, 32% white and 4% Hispanic. The median household income is approximately $30,000.00 and providing services for travelers along U.S, Route 58, U.S. Route 301 and Interstate 95 is an important part of the Emporia economy. The 5.1% unemployment rate is 120% higher than the national average and the poverty level in Emporia is 118%. There are a number of beautiful brick and historical houses and buildings throughout the area, along with numerous civil war markers and monuments.

Throughout each mission, we all try to do the best that we can with the resources available to us, and once again, as our mission came to a close, mission members came away with a great deal of satisfaction knowing that a great many in need were helped by their generous and unselfish efforts. Here in the United States we remain one of the only advanced industrial nations without a comprehensive national health insurance system. The United States ranks 28h below almost all industrial nations, when it comes to the quality of its healthcare assessed by United Nations parameters. While we as a nation continue to debate whether health care is a right or a privilege, VOSH-CT and its mission members were very grateful to RAM USA and local southside RAM chapter for providing us the opportunity to serve those in need here in our own country. Virginia only recently began to accept the Federal government Medicaid expansion funds, but eye and dental care are exempt for adults, making it impossible for anyone, but children to access needed eye care services and glasses without cost. There is also a very limited number of healthcare providers including optometrists and dentists, necessitating long and distant travel times to access these services.

VOSH-CT continues to be grateful to all of those, both here and in Nicaragua, who work together as one to provide eye care services to so many who otherwise would have none