Kiribati Nurse Wins Eye Care Scholarship; Recommended by PIMA Optometrist

 

Kiribati nurse Iakaoba Itidita, at left, has been awarded an eye care scholarship after being recommended by PIMA volunteer optometrist Dr. Scott Pike.

Kiribati nurse Iakaoba Itidita, at left, has been awarded an eye care scholarship after being recommended by PIMA volunteer optometrist Dr. Scott Pike.

Iakoba’s initial eye care experience came two years ago when PIMA’s volunteer optometrist Dr. Scott Pike of Portland traveled to Christmas Island to train local nurses in primary eye care and to dispense eyeglasses and to subsequently recommend Iakoba for the scholarship. (more info.)

Following Iakoba’s one year study at the institute and the award of his postgraduate diploma in eye care, he will be prepared to return home to Kiribati and train fellow nurses throughout the country, Dr. Pike said.

He is expected to begin his studies this month ( February ) and said he is looking forward to being able return to Christmas Island and be of service in Kiribati’s Line Islands.

“This will be a giant step forward in a nation where many islanders have no access to eye care,” Pike said. “We are really proud of Iakoba for receiving this award. He was one of the very brightest and best of our students when we did the training. He showed a serious interest in eye care.”

“Thank you Dr. Pike and Pacific Islands Medical Aid for your help in everything regarding my training,” Iakoba said, “otherwise I would not have this opportunity.”

The Pacific Eye Institute (PEI), located in Suva, Fiji, is the Pacific region’s first training facility for eye health professionals in that part of the world, according to Carlton Smith, president of Pacific Islands Medical Aid (PIMA). It is an initiative of, and funded by the Fred Hollows Foundation in Australia and New Zealand.

“Dr. Pike trained Iakoba and recommended him to the Eye Institute,” Smith said. “We really appreciate Dr. Pike’ service to PIMA and to the people of this isolated central Pacific region.”

Smith said that postgraduate students at the Pacific Eye Institute are trained specifically to provide eye care in the Pacific region. “They gain a solid academic basis for their practice and considerable supervised practical experience in an environment similar to the clinics in their own countries, he said. Congratulations and best of luck to Iakoba!

Orthopedic Surgeon Volunteers for Kiribati

Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Kent Saltonstall, MD, of Woodway, Washington, has volunteered to spend a week with the two Kiribati doctors on Christmas Island in mid May on urgent medical cases and to help assess the work that frequently returning consulting physicians might perform there, it was announced.

Dr. Saltonstall, an avid bone fisherman, has visited Christmas Island several times, but has not had the opportunity to help the people there in any meaningful way, according to PIMA president Carlton Smith.

Dr. Saltonstall will work with Dr. Teraira Bangao, the Line Islands Medical Officer in Charge, and Kiribati surgeon Dr. John Tekanene while there, Smith said.

He is a member of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and received degrees from Yale, Columbia and Tufts universities. After service in the U.S. Navy and completion of training in orthopedic surgery, Dr. Saltonstall worked at Group Health Cooperative in Washington for 21 years and now teaches several courses at the University of Washington Medical School.

Many thanks to Mother Frances Hospital

 

Senior nursing officer Tarannang

Senior nursing officer Tarannang

Some Filing Help — Line Island’s Senior Nursing Officer Tarannang has just received a donation of medical files from Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, Texas and has already put them to good use. PIMA has been receiving donations from the hospital for more than four years, with most urgently needed surplus material going to Kiribati in the central Pacific.

X-Ray Supplies Donated

Supplies to replenish the Christmas Island hospital’s x-ray lab have been donated by Mr. and Mrs. Willis Preston of Tyler, Texas.

The Preston’s, who own and operate Alltate Bio-Medical Services in Tyler, originally set up the X-Ray lab on the island in late December of 2009 and have kept the small lab supplied with film, chemicals and other materials ever since.

The island’s portable x-ray machine was donated by PIMA, with help from the manufacturers, MinXray, of Northbrook, Illinois.

As PIMA volunteers, the Prestons worked for a week on Christmas Island to put the lab in working order and taught the local x-ray technician there, Nurse Oremon, how to use and maintain the equipment.

Eye Surgeries Completed

Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Jorizzo of Medford, Oregon, examines a little Christmas Island boy on PIMA's most recent eye surgery trip to the islands. Dr. Jorizzo responded to our urgent call to complete eye surgeries there and successfully completed 33 surgeries over the Christmas-New Year's holiday period.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Jorizzo of Medford, Oregon, examines a little Christmas Island boy on PIMA’s most recent eye surgery trip to the islands. Dr. Jorizzo responded to our urgent call to complete eye surgeries there and successfully completed 33 surgeries over the Christmas-New Year’s holiday period.

A total 33 eye surgeries were completed on Christmas Island over the New Year’s holiday, thanks to the compassion and willingness of  PIMA volunteer ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Jorizzo, of Medford Oregon, who agreed on short notice to help us get the job done.

‘We are enormously grateful to Dr. Jorizzo and his assistant William Lee who dropped everything at the last moment and flew with us to Christmas Island to complete the job of eye surgeries on patients we had to leave behind two months earlier when our surgeon became ill,” PIMA president Carlton Smith said.

Many patients had been brought to Christmas Island from the outer islands in Kiribati and had been waiting for our return, he said.

“It is our hope that Dr. Jorizzo and his fellow ophthalmologists at the Medical Eye Center in Medford will now be able to return to the Line Islands in Kiribati on a regular basis to deal with the blinding cataracts so many islanders suffer from,” Smith said.

Dr. Jorizzo was recommended to Pacific Islands Medical Aid by our partner in eye care, Surgical Eye Expeditions, International (SEE) of Santa Barbara, California, when we were unable to complete our list of surgeries on the island in late October because our volunteer eye surgeon became ill and had to return home early.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Jorizzo (at right) and surgical assistant Andrew Lee (at left) stand by patients who had cataract surgery just 24 hours earlier and are about to have their bandages removed.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Jorizzo (at right) and surgical assistant Andrew Lee (at left) stand by patients who had cataract surgery just 24 hours earlier and are about to have their bandages removed.

The moment of truth... and they can see again! Kiribati nurse explains the do's and don'ts during recovery and reminds them to use their eye drops.

The moment of truth… and they can see again! Kiribati nurse explains the do’s and don’ts during recovery and reminds them to use their eye drops.

SEE not only recommended a surgeon, but also provided cataract lenses, medicines, medical supplies and equipment to help us get the job done, Smith said.

More than 190 eye surgeries have been completed by PIMA ophthalmologists in the last 18 months in the isolated central Pacific region of the Line Islands, Kiribati.

Cardiologist Joins PIMA Heart Team

 

Dr. Brian Eades, Cardiologist

Dr. Brian Eades, Cardiologist

Noted cardiologist Dr. Brian Eades of Dallas, Texas has joined Pacific Islands Medical Aid’s Heart Team to help with patients from the Line Islands, Kiribati.

Dr. Eades’ appointment was made by PIMA Heart Team leader Dr. Alistair Fyfe of Cardiology Associates of Dallas. “We are extremely pleased and fortunate to have a cardiologist of Dr. Eades caliber join our team,” Dr. Fyfe said.

Plans now underway call for Dr. Eades to join Dr. Fyfe, two cardiac surgical nurses from Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas, and ultra-sound technician Beaux Seabury on an expedition to Christmas Island, Kiribati, in mid-February to assess heart disease among adolescents, where the incidence of early untreated rheumatic fever is of great concern, Dr. Fyfe said.

Heart Disease-Prone Children To Be Seen in PIMA’s Latest Expedition

Hundreds of children prone to heart disease in the isolated central Pacific will be seen by Pacific Islands Medical Aid volunteer cardiologists as the Heart Team returns to Christmas Island in Kiribati later this month, it was announced.

PIMA's Heart Team, led by Dallas cardiologist Dr. Alistair Fyfe (center) heads back to Kiribati in the Central Pacific in mid February to help patients suffering with heart disease.

PIMA’s Heart Team, led by Dallas cardiologist Dr. Alistair Fyfe (center) heads back to Kiribati in the Central Pacific in mid February to help patients suffering with heart disease.

Under the direction of Dallas cardiologist Dr. Alistair Fyfe, the six-member team will perform ultra-sound assessments on as many adolescents as possible , see PIMA’s previous open-heart surgery patients, do a defibrillation on one young man who’s heart is out of rhythm, check the pacemaker in one of PIMA’s earlier heart patients, and see new heart cases.

The team will work with Kiribati doctors Teraira Bangao and John Tekanene while on Christmas Island and see children at each of the island’s two high schools and middle school, Dr. Fyfe said.
He said of particular concern is the high rate of heart disease among the islanders, apparently the result of earlier untreated rheumatic fever.  “Often, young mothers die in childbirth because their diseased hearts cannot take the stress,” he said.

Dr. Fyfe said the high incidence of heart disease was noted on PIMA’s earlier Heart Team visits to the islands 18 months ago, resulting then in the transport of 12 critically-ill islanders to Dallas for life-saving open heart surgery. “All of the patients are reported doing extremely well, but we need to check them,” Dr. Fyfe said.

Little Soria, her heart mended, can now expect a full and healthy life.  Here, she poses with PIMA's president Carlton Smith on a recent visit to Christmas Island.

Little Soria, her heart mended, can now expect a full and healthy life. Here, she poses with PIMA’s president Carlton Smith on a recent visit to Christmas Island.

The one-week-long expedition will include Dr. Fyfe, Dallas cardiologist Dr. Brian Eades, two cardiac care nurses from Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas, Denni Lozos and Deanna Holik, as well as ultra-sound technician Beaux Seabury of Dr. Fyfe’s Cardiology Associates of Dallas, and Carlton Smith, president of Pacific Islands Medical Aid, Inc.

It is hoped also that heart patients from the neighboring islands of Tabuaeran ( Fanning ) and Teraina ( Washington ) can be brought to Christmas Island for evaluation, Dr. Fyfe said.
“It will be a really busy week,” Dr. Fyfe said, “but I think we will be able to accomplish everything we have set out to do.”