There are ample opportunities for Bascom Palmer residents to become involved in community service and volunteer to help underserved populations in Miami and surrounding areas. Two experiences include the University of Miami's Department of Community Service (DOCS) health fairs and Bascom Palmer Vision Van screenings.
Bascom Palmer collaborates with the University of Miami Department of Community Service (DOCS) to volunteer at several health fairs throughout the year. These health fairs typically occur once per month in locations with a large population of uninsured or those with poor access to care, ranging from communities as south as Key West to as north as Fort Lauderdale. Led by our faculty Dr. Richard Lee and Dr. Raquel Goldhardt, our residents volunteer and work closely with medical students to help measure vision, intraocular pressure, and assess the optic nerve and posterior pole through handheld fundus photography, with referral to appropriate free/low-cost clinics if warranted. This provides multiple benefits: patients gain awareness of and access to healthcare services that they have not otherwise received, and our residents have the opportunity to hone leadership skills, work with novel portable imaging technology, and mentor and teach medical students interested in ophthalmology.
Two major annual health fairs include the annual Keys Health Fair and the Galapagos trip.
- The Keys Health Fair typically occurs in February, and is one of the highlighted community service events where the department traditionally pays for the accommodations for the weekend for the volunteers. Residents typically drive down on Friday evening, volunteer on Saturday during the day, and then enjoy dinner and an evening out with the Bascom Family—a popular and beloved tradition!
- The Galapagos trip is an opportunity to volunteer internationally in an incredible location with limited access to healthcare to tackle the global public health issue of blindness and sight impairment. Interested residents have the opportunity to provide vision screenings and glasses to hundreds of patients, including children, while also having the opportunity to explore the beautiful island flora and fauna of the Galapagos.
Bascom Palmer Vision Van
Vision van screenings occur throughout the year as well. The Bascom Palmer Vision Van, a 40-foot converted bus with three screening stations, an examination room, and state-of-the-art equipment, aims to provide ophthalmological medical care to the larger community. Staffed by Bascom Palmer residents and attendings, including Dr. Zubair Ansari, this van offers vision screenings and ophthalmologic examinations at both a local and global level, with previous trips including relief care to the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and Japan after the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake as well as throughout the local Florida community. Screenings through this van include evaluation of patients of all ages, from young toddlers to adults, and brings accessible ophthalmologic care to areas in need.
Isabel R. Perez
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
900 N.W. 17th Street
Miami, FL 33136