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Ambu = Uber to Vision Restoration

A confession: inappropriate (as deemed by me) use of ambulance services is a long standing pet peeve of mine. When patients present to the Emergency Department via EMS for non-emergent conditions, I tend to find it highly annoying. I have been able to experience this annoyance in resource rich settings as well as resource poor settings.

However, my stance on ambulance usage and its spectrum of appropriateness has begun to evolve a bit... particularly in resource limited settings such as ours. A significant motivation for our presence in rural Guatemala is to improve access to healthcare. Reasons for limited access to healthcare are numerous. One daunting obstacle for patients is transportation, or lack thereof. Lack of transportation comes into play when seeking care for emergent as well as non-emergent conditions.

As noted previously, we now have a brand new ambulance at our disposal. Patients suffering from emergent, life-threatening conditions are prioritized when implementing ambulance usage. Fortunately, such cases do not occur continuously. Thus, there are times when our ambulance is available for facilitating treatment of patients who are suffering from significant medical conditions which are not immediately life-threatening. One such condition would be visual impairment due to cataracts.

Meet Pablo. He is 55 years old. He lives with and cares for his elderly mother who is recently widowed. He cannot see due to cataracts in both eyes.

We do not currently offer cataract surgery at our center (although we would certainly be interested in adding that service in the future). Pablo does not have reliable transportation.

This coming week we will be giving Pablo a taxi ride in our ambulance to an outside facility that does perform cataract surgeries. Our organization will help finance the operative intervention to restore his sight. I am not annoyed in the slightest by this use of an emergency vehicle to access care for a non-emergent condition. Pablo and his family members are not annoyed either. Indeed, playing a role in restoring sight to the blind is very much in line with our faith-based mission:

"You will open the eyes of the blind."

~Isaiah 42:7 (NLV)

Top photo by Nong on Unsplash


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