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Carbon optometrists finish humanitarian mission to Guyana

Barry Cook examines a patient at the clinic in Guyana.

Dr. Barry P. Cook and his wife, Julee, and Dr. Steven Tuttle and his wife, Jane, and son, Jordon, have returned from another Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity project.

The project was held in an LDS meeting house in Georgetown, Guyana. Georgetown is the capital city of Guyana, located on the northern side of South America directly east of Venezuela.

The group consisted of five optometric physicians from Utah, as well as spouses, children and other volunteers. The group also worked with LDS missionaries who are serving in Guyana. The missionaries provided transportation as well as help with registration and working with the large crowd of people.

The volunteers thanked the Utah State Lions Foundation for a contribution that helped offset some of the travel expenses. The volunteers paid most of those expenses themselves.

The first day the doctors were transported to a couple of out lying areas away from Georgetown. The doctors examined many students as well as others who did not pass a vision screening. The rest of the volunteers stayed to set up and organize the donated eyewear to be used in the following days.

The four days were extremely busy at the clinic. The doctors were able to examine and provide donated eyewear to 2,000 patients in the poverty-stricken region.

The doctors were able to make referrals to vision care providers in Guyana for additional primary care and for needed medications.

Each day the clinic began with the registration of hundreds of patients. The patients then waited in the chapel for their turn to be examined by one of the doctors. When the examinations were completed, the patients went to the cultural hall and waited for volunteers to pull several options in donated eye wear that could benefit the patient. LDS missionaries and member volunteers were helpful in coordinating the movement and progression of patients through the clinic.

The volunteer group included several pre-med students who acted as scribes and were able to observe ocular pathology first hand. They were able to observe the diagnosis and treatment plans for each patient.

Each full day of clinic came to and end with the batteries of the doctors' instruments totally drained.

"We want to thank the citizens of Carbon and Emergy counties for their eyewear donations helping to make the the project a total success," said Barry Cook. Several Boy Scout Eagle projects were completed as the scouts collected, cleaned, repaird, neutralized labeled and organized the donated eyewear.

The volunteers anticipate a similar humanitarian project in Peru in about two years.

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