A Flying Hospital?

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Mercury News recently published an interesting article about a unique eye care facility. Patients from around the world in need of eye care board a blue-and-white MD-10 cargo plane aptly named the Orbis. The craft is also known as the “Flying Eye Hospital.” The high-tech ophthalmic care center was created in California and has the support of local physicians and universities.

Fully Equipped CraftInside the airplane, physicians equipped the facility with an examination area, an operating room and a recovery room. The impressive facilities more closely resemble a hospital setting. The Orbis also features teaching simulators where physicians have the opportunity to test their skills by performing delicate microscopic procedures on a mannequin equipped with eyes.

Surgeries performed aboard the plane are also streamed live to a television position in the front area of the craft. From the area, doctors watch procedures as they occur and have the ability to converse with surgeons. The procedures are also broadcast to practitioners around the world. The physicians providing services aboard the Orbis fully understand that they cannot possibly treat every patient on the planet who needs quality eye care. By training other physicians at each destination, they are assured that people in rural regions continue receiving care.

World Travel

Once the Orbis team packs all of the supplies they need at Moffett Field, the plane ventures to various countries around the globe to treat patients not having access to quality medical care. Rural regions in Burma, China, India and Mongolia are some of the recent trips made by the team. The medical team aboard the Orbis offer much-needed treatment, teach local physicians and flies to the next location.

A three-month-old infant with cataracts was one of the youngest patients helped by the doctors. The interior is decorated with an array of teddy bears in order to be more child-friendly. However, patients of any age are welcome to visit and receive care. Some of the many conditions that the doctors and nurses aboard Orbis treat include cataracts, glaucoma and retinopathy.

The joy of hearing a patient exclaim that they can now see following a procedure reminds the medical staff of why they undertook the endeavor. It is also not unusual for former patients to stop in when the plane makes return visits to say hello and thank the Orbis team for all that they do.