Milestones

1961: 

Drs. James McDonald, Art LIght and Thomas Stamm from Chicago founded FOCUS Inc. and began making frequent trips to Haiti to deliver quality eye care. Many other ophthalmologists joined these trips to Haiti until the early 1970s, when political strife caused FOCUS to shift attention to Nigeria.

1970s-2014: 

FOCUS Inc., led by Dr. McDonald and then Dr. Marilyn Miller, concentrated efforts in Nigeria.  This led to the successful establishment of a high quality eye surgery center and training program that received scores of visiting ophthalmologists over many extended visits.  

2009

FOCUS Inc. board member, Linda Lawrence MD was honored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) with the International Humanitarian Services Award.

2014:

Dr. Daniel Alter and son David travel to Port au Prince, Haiti to train Dr. Reginald Taverne

in modern complex vitrectomy. The first ever complex vitrectomies to repair retinal detachments

were done in Haiti on this trip.

2015: 

In January, Dr. Alter returns to Haiti with his son Thomas to continue the retina surgery training of Dr. Taverne. A visit to HUEH, the general ophthalmology residency program at the state hospital is made and residents are introduced to indirect ophthalmoscopy. The general state of disrepair and lack of supplies and equipment are noted.

 

In June, Dr. Alter returns to Haiti with his daughter Jennifer, to continue training.

2016: 

In March Dr. Alter spearheads efforts to start a second retina surgery center in Cap Haitien, Haiti with Dr. Luc Dupuy Pierre at the Vision Plus Clinic. Five visits over 2 years are made to equip, supply and train Dr. Dupuy in modern retina surgery.

 

Dr. Matthew Thompson, who was doing mission trips to Haiti for cataract surgery, joins the team and starts on-site cataract surgery training with the residents at HUEH. The program has been expanded and continued to this day.

 

Dr. William Myers joins the team in training residents in cataract surgery and lends his expertise in residency building.

2017: Dr. Alter is commended with the SEE International Humanitarian of the Year Award for his

work in Haiti. The first two operating microscopes are shipped to Haiti to improve the surgical equipment.

In January, Dr. Alter returns to Port au Prince to continue retina training and support of the

residency program with much needed supplies and equipment.

In March, Dr. Alter again visits for retina training and support of HUEH residency.

In May, Dr. Thompson joins Dr. Alter in his first visit to HUEH and begins training residents in

small incision cataract surgery.

In July, Dr. Alter visits Cap Haitien for additional retina/vitrectomy training with Dr. Dupuy 1st microscope shipped.

October, additional trip to supply and train Dr. Taverne in retina and the residents at HUEH.

December, additional trip to Port au Prince with participation in the Haitian Society of Ophthalmology Annual meeting.

High speed internet is installed and paid for and continues to this day.

 

2019:

FOCUS Inc. President Marilyn Miller,  receives the AAO Laureate Award.  This is the highest achievement awarded by the AAO that recognizes individuals from around the world who have made exceptional contributions for the betterment of eye care, leading to the prevention of blindness and restoration of sight worldwide. 

 

FOCUS Inc. leadership Marilyn Miller and Linda Lawrence invite Drs. Myers, Thompson and Alter to formally join the FOCUS Inc. board of directors and consolidate efforts in Haiti.

 

Ana Bastos Carvalho a medical retina fellow in training, is provided a stipend to travel to Haiti by FOCUS Inc.  

 

FOCUS Inc. Ships two additional microscopes to HUEH and sets up a wetlab for the residents to familiarize themselves with microscopic surgery.

 

Video capabilities and monitor are added to the operating microscope allowing improved teaching capabilities.

 

FOCUS Inc. funds a remodeling project to update two unused rooms with dropped ceiling, electrical, and air conditioning.

 

FOCUS purchases and donates a retina laser system.

 

SEE collaborates with FOCUS on several projects to increase capacity at the residency program with materials and equipment support including an OCT machine.

 

SEE provides artificial simulation eyes for residents to hone their skills in the wet/dry lab. Charity Vision collaborates with FOCUS supplying cataract supplies and other equipment.

 

The improved HUEH ophthalmology residency program fills early in the residency match, indicating increased interest in ophthalmology by those in training.

2020:

Focus Inc doctors make two trips to Haiti before the Covid pandemic hit.

 

FOCUS donates a B-scan ultrasound.

HUEH ophthalmology residency again matches a strong class of applicants.
 

Dr. Alter begins the training of residents at HUEH to perform retinal examinations for

premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit and performs the first treatment of a baby

at HUEH for retinopathy of prematurity.

FOCUS Inc. plans and funds a remodeling project for the dormitory area of the residency and

makes several improvements for night time security for residents staying overnight.

Dr. Thompson performs cataract surgery on several young children suffering from congenital

cataracts.

SEE International continues their support of FOCUS projects at HUEH with purchase of cataract

supplies and material.

Drs. Ana Bastos Carvalho and RV Paul Chan join the board of directors of FOCUS Inc.

Seven pallets of medical equipment and supplies containing surgical beds, slit lamp

microscopes and many other items arrive at the residency training program.

Dr. Ana Bastos Carvalho is named HUEH Ophthalmology Co-director of the residency program.

 

FOCUS Inc. hires two country coordinators to provide full-time technical and operational support

at HUEH.

FOCUS Inc. country coordinators administer the remote interactive lecture series.

Dr. Myers meets with ASCRS leadership and FOCUS is awarded a $50,000 grant to support

residency development in Haiti.

FOCUS Inc. supports the development of a new clinic by recent graduates, Drs. Desir and Louis

in St. Marc, an area with no ophthalmologist by donating equipment.

Drs. Myers and Thompson are nominated for the Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award

2021:

 In January, Drs. Nelson, Myers, and Alter make the first visit to Haiti since the pandemic to

continue the work.

An operating microscope is purchased and shipped for the new clinic supported by FOCUS in

St. Marc.

For the third consecutive year, Ophthalmology attracts some of the very best residents for the

first year class.

 

FOCUS hosts ROP symposiums in January and April in Port au Prince, Haiti to increase the

awareness and training to prevent childhood blindness.

FOCUS is again awarded a grant by ASCRS Foundation to further residency development and

training in Haiti.

FOCUS Inc. is awarded a grant from St. Joseph’s Community Foundation to support an in-

country pediatric ophthalmology fellowship.

FOCUS Inc. is award a grant from USAID Childhood Prevention of Blindness program to

develop a retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) treatment and screening program in Haiti and a

Pediatric Ophthalmology Fellowship for recent graduates.

Video and monitor capabilities are set up for the second microscope in the operating room.

Responding to an urgent request, FOCUS Inc. funds an electrical backup system with solar

panels, inverter, and batteries to provide reliable electricity in the operating room.

FOCUS funds installation of 4 new air conditioners and maintenance contract.

FOCUS funds a one-year in-country Pediatric Ophthalmology Fellowship for recent graduate

and past Chief Resident, Dr. Yamilee Cherubin.

FOCUS funds a one-year in country Retinopathy of Prematurity/Retina Fellowship for recent

graduate and past Chief Resident, Dr. Shakespeare Saintil.

Dr. RV Paul Chan receives The Jenny Pomeroy Award for Excellence in Vision and Public Health for his contributions to the advancement of public health related to vision and eye health at the community, state, national and/or international level.  Dr. Chan was selected by an all-volunteer committee for his leadership in global retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) program development, pediatric retina, retinal imaging, and education.

Future intended projects and goals:

Prepare for possible relocation and/or emergency relocation plan of HUEH eye clinic as

expected by the HUEH master architectural plan which shows the current clinic to be a parking

lot for the new hospital under construction that does not have space planned for ophthalmology.

Support ophthalmology residents in training in Haiti and consider expansion to other countries

with similar needs.

Expand NO MORE BLIND BABIES campaign.

Continue to equip, supply and train local Haitian eye care professionals.

Develop and support eye care technician training in Haiti.

Purchase vehicles for in-country transportation of staff, volunteers and patients.

Provide support of recent graduates of the residency program to start clinics in underserved

areas of Haiti.

Continue development of subspecialty training in Haiti.

Continue to support FOCUS subspecialty fellows post graduation to strengthen the training of

current ophthalmology residents.

Strengthen neonatal intensive care units in Haiti to lower the risk of retinopathy of prematurity

and other related complications.

Increase availability of surgery to those in need.