We last met Dr. Ronald Allen, DO, Ophthalmology of The Portland Clinic in his #MeetYourDoc feature. A proponent of eye health, Dr. Allen recently completed a medical mission to Fiji to perform cataract surgery and other procedures for those living in less fortunate conditions within the country, which is composed of more than 300 islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Backed by The Mission at Natuvu Creek, a faith-based community dedicated to providing competent and compassionate healthcare to those in need, Dr. Allen partnered with his former fellow military ophthalmology resident, Randal Goodman, MD, to spend 10 days in the beautiful, yet very remote and underdeveloped tropical region. SEE International, which provides sustainable medical, surgical and educational services through volunteer ophthalmic surgeons to restore sight to and prevent blindness in disadvantaged individuals worldwide, helped connect the doctors to this special project.
“We had more than 150 people visit the clinic, lining up for checkups and surgeries, while I was there. Some even traveled up to three hours by boat for these free services,” says Dr. Allen. “We were dealing with patients who literally couldn’t see on their trip — many have very dense cataracts due to sun exposure, and they don’t have access to care. By the end of their visit, they had the gift of sight. The patients are extremely appreciative, and it’s a gratifying experience.”
The mission is managed by local Fijians, who organize different medical missions throughout the year. The most difficult task handed to Dr. Allen and his team was ensuring seamless logistics — everything used for surgeries and medical treatment needed to arrive on time and be in good working order.
Dr. Allen and his team offered a full line of services, from exams to surgeries. It was imperative that all of the beds, exam tables and plenty of eye drops were on-site. Large quantities of pre- and post-exam drops were required; the mission was fortunate to have an Alcon representative on hand to donate the necessary fluids.
The Portland Clinic donated 18 liters of balanced saline solution (BSS) for the cataract surgeries to help maintain pressure in patients’ eyes during procedures.
“I’m very appreciative to have the opportunity to take time off and offer life-changing services outside The Portland Clinic and our community,” Dr. Allen continues. “Cataracts are a worldwide issue — one of the leading causes of blindness. We need these types of ventures to help underdeveloped countries that simply don’t have access to care. It’s an honor to be a contributor to this mission.”
Of course, Dr. Allen was able to take in some of the scenery while in Fiji. Known for its world-renowned coral reefs and scuba diving, Dr. Allen had a chance to spend time exploring the warm, clear water off one of the hundreds of islands of Fiji.
Thank you, Dr. Allen, for your hard work and continued service to our neighbors in Portland and patients around the world!