A Doctor without a Border: Hudson Valley Eye Surgeon Brings Vision to Underserved Countries
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October 10, 2013
Middletown, NY — When Severin B. Palydowycz, MD learned there were patients in Macedonia who had been on a waiting list for cataract surgery for more than three years, he knew he had to do something. Dr. Palydowycz, a surgeon at Hudson Valley Ambulatory Surgery (HVAS), and director and chief surgeon at Tri-state Eye, has performed good will surgeries outside the US before on self-funded trips to Haiti in 2009 and 2011, and to Ukraine in 2013.
The trip was spurred by Dr. Palydowycz’s office assistant Sylvana Paunova, a Macedonian native who told him about the dire situation in her home country. Arranging the trip was not easy. Paunova worked tirelessly for more than six months to coordinate the trip. She handled shipping for the donated equipment, identified and gained access to patients, coordinated operating rooms and handled all of the necessary paperwork involved with lining up patients. She also worked tirelessly in the operating room and served as an interpreter, coordinator, customs liaison and also managed equipment.
In addition to the three year backlog for cataract appointments, lack of healthcare funding in the European country has made materials and equipment largely unavailable and no cataract surgeries had been performed for the nine months preceding Dr. Palydowycz’s trip.
Dr. Palydowycz, accompanied by his daughter Katya, who is following in his humanitarian footsteps and pursuing a medical career, helped more than 200 patients regain sight through modern cataract surgery. On his first day alone, Dr. Palydowycz saw 119 patients. “I have never seen so many eyes that had such poor pathology and extreme losses of vision,” said Dr. Palydowycz. He noted the remarkable determination the patients had to regain their sight. “The patients were so badly in need of this surgery they were willing to undergo the procedure without anesthesia as would normally be utilized. It was truly inspiring to see these people undergo the surgery. Other than the numbing drops and agent injected into their eyes, they were fully awake.To be there with them, to experience their joy when we removed the bandages only one day later, was emotional for all of us.”
Dr. Palydowycz left his mark on more than the patients he treated. He worked with and trained Macedonian physicians, on the latest techniques so they would be able to perform the cutting edge procedures he used to help future patients. The surgeries were even live streamed to reach as many Macedonians doctors as possible.
Dr. Palydowycz says his work in countries such as Macedonia further improves his well-honed surgical skills bringing new efficiencies back from every trip and utilizing them to benefit his patients here.“Performing an exorbitant number of surgeries in these extreme conditions has helped me to work even more quickly and precisely,” he said. “It also makes you really appreciate the excellent conditions we have here in the US.”
For more information about Tri-state eye, visit www.tristateeye.com.
Hudson Valley Ambulatory Surgery, LLC, is located at 75 Crystal Run Road, Suite 225, Middletown, NY 10941.