For 20 years, ophthalmology physicians and volunteers from Lahey Hospital & Medical Center have headed to clinics in Santa Ana and San Miguel, El Salvador. There, they provide surgery and other care to patients who have eye disease or are in danger of permanent vision loss.
Since its inception in 1993, Lahey’s Global Outreach Program has provided travel expenses for staff volunteers — doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and others representing 25 departments — to go on these and other medical relief missions to more than 32 countries around the world, as well as to Native American reservations in the United States and relief efforts for natural disasters including Hurricane Katrina.
Thanks to a recent $250,000 gift by Oasis Systems in Lexington, MA, Lahey clinicians will continue to offer much-needed services throughout the world. Oasis provides engineering, information technology, cybersecurity and other services to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, with professional staff located in 36 states and 10 countries.
“Lahey has provided health care to my family for three generations and has provided the same quality care to my friends, neighbors and now globally,” said Thomas J. Colatosti, chief executive officer of Oasis. “They serve the local community and the underprivileged around the world.”
Over the years, Colatosti developed close relationships with key figures in the Global Outreach Program. His primary care physician, Thomas Bilodeau, MD, has gone on several medical missions — including to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
“In the course of my exams, I’d ask, ‘What are you doing this summer?’ And [my doctors] would often say they’re going off to Bolivia or Ecuador or Kenya to do humanitarian work,” Colatosti said. “So I was moved to be part of it and support their and Lahey’s global outreach initiative.”
Community service is integral to the Lahey mission and is a required component of medical residency training, while the trips expose the medical staff to pathologies and illnesses that are not typically found in Massachusetts.
“There are so many medical staff throughout Lahey that generously volunteer their time and expertise to those in need around the world in order to fulfill this mission,” said Dr. Bilodeau. “The impact our medical staff have in these communities is tangible. I had a patient on a recent trip to Kenya who suffered with a broken leg for two years. We got him to a surgeon and the next time we returned he ran alongside our van, showing off his leg.”