Daily mission log of the Neatrour family’s return to and adoption by the Province of Surigao del Sur and adoption of the newly expanded Adela Serra Ty Memorial Hospital in Tandag:
Day 1 – Imagine loading the Neatrour 5 with our suitcases and carry-ons as well as 6 50-pound back packs full of surgical eye supplies. 2 (100 pounds) were dedicated to 1,000 pairs of eye glasses from our Lions Clubs (see picture of optical trunk show out of my car) and 233 lens blanks from Essilor for custom made lenses. Flights on United from Norfolk – Washington, DC – Tokyo – Manila ensued.
Day 2 – 26 hours later plus a 12 hour time difference, we arrived safely to face Philippine Customs without the promised help (due to not having our full flight information). After unpacking the bag with the intraocular anesthetics, steroids, and antibiotics, and diplomatic communication with the custom’s ladies, we were allowed to proceed through with all our mission eye surgical supplies from Alcon, Allergan, Bausch and Lomb, Beach Eye Care, and the Neatrour Family Foundation.
Day 3 – afforded a day of rest in Manila and time adjustment before we head south to Tandag.
Day 4 – Flying again from Manila to Butuan, loading the bags on the Governor’s bus, and 4 hours on winding roads thru rice patties and tropical rain forests. (See picture of delay on a bridge due to an overloaded logging truck and a bottle truck accident.) The day ended with a welcome dinner and entertainment at a local beach resort.
Day 5 – Let the mission begin! Catholic mass and the opening ceremonies at the Capitol before delivering the glasses, starting the vision screening, setting up the diabetes screening table, and the inaugural prosthetics program to help amputees walk freely. We started cataract surgery in the OR (operating room) of the newly expanded hospital using the phaco (ultrasound) machine we delivered 2 years ago. I teamed with my daughter, Kristin, a 4 future ophthalmologist , who assisted in cataract surgery and Dr Matt Burac, senior ophthalmology resident ,who will become the on-site ophthalmologist for the province this fall – A DREAM 2 YEARS AGO after our initial visit!
Day 6 – The busiest cataract surgery day with 56 operations! In one OR, 2 phaco cases were performed at a time and in the other, 2-3 SICS (small incision extracapsular cataract surgery) cases. The Neatrour family was honored and surprised to be adopted by the people of the province of Surigao del Sur. The adoption of Adela Serra Ty Memorial Medical Center ceremonies included the country’s Secretary of the Department of Health, Governor Pimentel, and many Congressmen and Mayors. Our Community United Methodist Church (CUMC) youth pastor, Steve Watson, led the invocation. Montero Medical Missions, Beach Eye Care, Virginia Center fir Eye Surgery, and CUMC signed the adoption documents. I was also named as a honorary member of the Provincial Eyesight Board and took the pledge of support. During the mission, Steve shared the word by passing out faith-based pamphlets and praying with patients.
Click here to see the legal documents.
Day 7 – Eye exams, cataract surgery, diabetes screening, and prosthetic fitting continued on our last mission day. 600 EYE EXAMS and pairs of eye GLASSES were dispensed; 76 CATARACT, 8 pterygium, and 1 after-cataract surgeries were performed; 25 amputees were fit for 30 PROSTHETIC LIMBS to be made in Manila and delivered in September. 400 patients were screened for diabetes and hypertension by the rest of my family – son Greg, daughter Katie, and wife Leslie – with 25% referred to the medical doctor on site to treat. SPORTS DIPLOMACY was next on the agenda with the Governor’s tennis doubles challenge. I partnered with the Governor while my son, Greg, partnered with Steve and then Dr Chris Buniel, the local Optometric mission director MMM supports. And, as you may have guessed, the Governor’s team prevailed. The local Rotary Club honored us with a dinner that night.
Day 8 afforded a day of relaxation before the 2 day trip home. We island hopped in Britannia enjoying gorgeous sandy beaches and the warm waters of the Pacific and Philippines Sea. The night concluded with the Governor’s thanksgiving celebration in appreciation of improving the healthcare system for his constituents.
Day 9 was departure day with a 4 hour bus ride back to the Butuan airport, flight to Manila, and riding thru a torrential rain storm to the Manila Hotel.
Day 10 in the air again 29 hours home , Manila-Tokyo-Denver-Philadelphia-Norfolk. We flopped in our own beds at 1:30am with the prayer of a safe mission trip completed. Bent to serve, who needs much sleep? Off to church to serve as head usher for the 8:30am service and back to my Beach Eye Care family of patients and staff awaiting the next call to serve.
PS – The microscope donated by MMM that did not make it to the hospital before the mission despite all our efforts is now at the hospital in Tandag with pictures and instructions for assembly emailed to the Philippine’s team for assembly. And, ground was broken while we were there for the next step…a medical clinic building that will have an eye clinic for Drs Chris Buniel, OD (and his son Lance who just completed Optometry school and his daughter in her last 2 years of the same) and Matt Burac, MD with its own operating room! Now, mission complete!