Two opthalmic technicians from the LBJ Hospital Sauma’eafe Maya Ierome and Blanche Uiti recently returned from Oregon where they acquired valuable technical skills from the Oregon health and Science University, OHSU Casey Eye Institute .
The training is part of a successful partnership between the LBJ Hospital and OHSU Casey Eye Institute.
Last year Dr. Benjamin Siatuu, a surgeon at LBJ completed three years of intensive Ophthalmology training at OHSU.
Now back home, he is only one of two eye doctors serving the territory and its only eye surgeon.
Dr. Mitchell Brinks assistant professor of opthalmology at Casey Eye Institute and co director of Casey’s international Opthalmology Program says due to its isolation, and unique health problems, American Samoans are one of the most medically undeserved populations in the US.
Nearly half of adults suffer from diabetes, putting them at high risk of blindness form complications.
Casey is continuing to partner with American Samoa to bolster other critical components of the opthamology program such as technician training.
Ierome and Uiti spent three weeks at the ODSU Case Eye Institute acquiring valuable technical skills as well as clinic management techniques.
And their training is continuing here at home with Casey Opthalmic technician Albert Romo who’s joined them for two weeks of additional hands on skill building.
Ierome says they are rolling out a campaign on eye care, Vision 20/20, a joint effort by LBJ and Casey Eye Institute to prevent blindness and to encourage early screening for eye diseases for those who are at risk especially diabetics.
This is funded buy a philanthropist Ms Kathy Deggendorfer of Round House Charity from Oregon.