An update from Wednesday

An update from Wednesday

Greetings everyone!
So today was our second official day in the vision center, and it surpassed even the most optimistic predictions.  

An update from Wednesday

As we arrived there were at least 25 people waiting to be seen by the doctor. Thankfully our operations team did a great job developing a system to predict how many people we could attend to in a day, and so based on our numbers we estimated we could see 40 patients. They had also developed a numbering system that allowed people to “check-in” with a certain number, and then receive an estimated window in which to be seen-that means folks don’t have to sit and wait all day, but can come and go in order to make better use of their time. As we continue to learn, we’re engaging new partners in this work, including the cashier at the hospital, who is helping us deliver the numbers to the patients that arrive to the vision center and control the amount of patients per day. It is a beautiful reminder of the team effort it takes to make something like this successful.

Today as a marketing team we did surveys of patients, and discovered some interesting things. We found several examples of people/students coming because a teacher had recommended they see us, or they had heard our talk at their school. We also encountered many people who heard our ads and talk shows on the radio, and it confirmed for us that the marketing work was successful. We also did a base line survey in Farafenni conducted by local people so that we can gauge the awareness the project has at this moment. We sent local partners into the market (without OneSight t-shirts) to strike up a conversation with folks, reveal they were having trouble seeing clearly, then asking them where they should go to get help. It was hard for us to believe, but over 33% of the local people who were asked were not only aware of the project, but also gave them the price and the location to go to. That’s pretty good for a week and a half campaign!

We did our second live radio panel today, so we are hoping tomorrow and friday we get a lot of patients from it, because we had a lot of incoming calls to the talk show.

Our operations team had another banner day, and it’s reflected in a few of the numbers.

  • They saw 50 patients today, and delivered quality care to every one
  • The 3 day total now stands at 112 people who have been seen
  • Out of the 50 people seen, 21 patients were refracted (meaning they had a refractive error that could be corrected.) In case you’re keeping track of the last three days for our optical tech Ousman, Monday was his single day record at 5 patients seen. Tuesday he doubled that record with 10 seen in a single day. And today he doubled it again with 21 patients seen. At this pace the whole of Gambia will be through his doors in just a few weeks
  • Today 17 pairs of spectacles were ordered.


Jennifer Bishop, our Asset Protection advisor, told us some stories today that she wanted to share:

“My job here in The Gambia has been a lot of work, but has also been a lot of fun. I’ve been able to talk with a many Gambians and really get to know them on a personal level. The main part of my job is to help with crowd control and logistics outside the clinic.  We don’t want the patients showing up, waiting all day to see the doctor, and then getting discouraged and sent home without an eye exam because we allowed too many people in line.  I meet with the Operations Team first thing in the morning and we decide a reasonable number that can get through the Vision Center.  We also want to leave room for any emergencies that might need to be handled right away.  From the first day, we have increased that number, since the hospital staff is getting more comfortable in their roles.  We don’t want them to focus on quantity, but more importantly on quality.

There have been quite a few children brought along with their mom or dad, grandma, grandpa or both.  The children are very well behaved, and I have noticed many are very quiet and shy. After I handed out a few pages from the coloring books and some crayons, I decided to show a few of the boys how to play a game on my phone called Angry Birds, a popular game. They quickly caught on how to play and were laughing and smiling as we challenged each other at the game.  I even let them beat me a few times! I am hoping our time together will make an impression on them, as I know it is one that I won’t ever forget.


I was going to show an older boy the game when I noticed he had an earphone in his ear.  I smiled at him and asked him what he was listening to, not sure if he could understand me. He replied in good English that he wasn’t listening to anything, and removed it from his ear. I then asked him if he wanted to listen to the music that I listen to. His ears perked up and he said that he’d “love to”.  After listening to a few country songs with him, I was asking him about his visit to the hospital and if he thought he needed glasses.  He told me that he was actually there for his mother, that she has needed glasses for quite some time and could not afford to buy them.  They were from a village over an hour away and had heard about the glasses being offered at Farafenni hospital on the radio.  I laughed and told him that some of the people he heard were actually on our OneSight team. He thought that was awesome!  An hour later I saw he and his mother leaving the clinic, and he thanked me for helping the people here in The Gambia. He also mentioned his mom was very happy! He then asked me for the name of one of the songs he had liked so well. I was so happy for the both of them, and glad their trip was worthwhile. There is now a “country music lover” in The Gambia!


Last week I was actually able to travel with the doctors and Optical Team Leads to a nearby community called Maca Farafenni. The village was about 15 minutes away, but seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.  The first person we visited was the leader of the village. After discussing what we were all doing there, he slowly went back into his small house, and grabbed a few chairs.  He pointed at me and Dr Cindy and then pointed at the chairs.  We both graciously accepted his generosity and sat down in the small chairs.  The Optical Lead from his village then set up a eye chart on the building nearby.  I asked one of the other team leads if I could take pictures, not sure of how that would be accepted.  She said to give her a few minutes to ask the ladies nearby that had gathered to see what the commotion was all about. After a short discussion, she told me it would be fine as long as I shared my pictures with them.  I proceeded to take a few pictures of the team giving the eye test.  A lady with  a baby walked in front of me, and posed and smiled. I assumed she wanted me to take her picture and the translator laughed and said to me “she is ready now”.  As soon as I took her picture, the smaller children came over and also wanted their picture taken.  Within seconds, I was surrounded by all the children wanting to see themselves.  Somehow they knew their photo was on my phone!!. They were all cracking up and pointing to themselves. We couldn’t communicate with each other through a shared language, but we were definitely making memories and laughing while we were trying!


As hard as it is to be away from my family and friends, it’s these few moments that make me realize how fortunate I am to live the life that I do, and how lucky I am to have the job that I do.  A smile and laugh are both worldwide!”


Many thanks to everyone following along with us-tomorrow is our last full day in the clinic, and everyone is focused on making sure the staff here has what they need to continue this work after we leave on Friday.


Pubblicato il 25 Apr 2013