The Long Island Vision Experts faculty members are actively involved in mission related activities. Two weeks are set aside each year for mission trips. Dr’s Hatsis along with a resident from Nassau University Medical Center take time away from their busy medical practices, at their own expense to participate.
As Chief Resident I was sent abroad to train in a medically underserved country. For three months I lived in a village named Bird Rock in the suburbs of Basseterre, St. Kitts. During that time I provided eye care for the 40,000 island residents. This experience left me with such a feeling of accomplishment that after establishing my own practice and becoming Board Certified I decided to resume helping those less fortunate. I joined the World Cataract Foundation and in 2000 made my first mission trip to Ometepec, Mexico where we treated hundreds of adults and children with eye disease. I recall a 7-year-old child named Antonio who fell on a broken bottle. The glass cut into his eye and with the help of his 14-year-old brother they walked for two days to our makeshift clinic. After completing the reconstructive eye surgery we found a crib for the 7 year old to squeeze into during his recovery. Antonio’s brother slept on the cold tile floor next to the crib and since they only spoke Mayan we needed a Mayan to Spanish translator. For five days the brother didn’t leave Antonio, both boys eating food donated by our surgical team members. The young boys were away from their family without communicating with them all this time. What is striking about this story is that the following year, little Antonio’s family heard that the American doctors were back in Ometepec. His father told him and his brother to walk back again for two days to come and show me how well he was doing, to give me a hug and to just say thank you.
Since then I have traveled two to three times every year to provide surgical eye care to the medically underserved people of the Caribbean, South and Central America. I’ve made 25 trips to do missionary eye surgery. As a member of the World Cataract Foundation, the Surgical Eye Expedition and the Volunteer Health Program I’ve treated patients in Panama, El Salvador, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Jamaica…and I’m not alone. There are hundreds of physicians, nurses, technicians and volunteers from across the country who donate their time and money to helping people less fortunate then us. We’re compensated with smiles, hugs and the feeling of a job well done. My next cataract trip is scheduled for Santiago, Dominican Republic in September of 2017. During a medical mission the days are long, the cases difficult and the need for help is endless but the appreciation makes it all worthwhile.
The staff at Long Island Vision Experts is also committed to helping those less fortunate local people living in Nassau County. In 2010 Dr. Hatsis created the Community Vision Project in conjunction with local Lions Clubs to provide local medical and surgical eye care to some of our less fortunate neighbors. To date in our office operating room, our doctor’s have helped many people from our neighboring towns by surgically removing cataracts and visually significant growths called pterygium. We’ve also provided free glaucoma laser surgery as well. Patients in need of eye care are identified and referred to us by local churches, and community based organizations such as the Lions Club. The team members at Long Island Vision Experts are proud to be able to fight blindness by helping those people of our community who are in need.