This Hospital Soars

September 9, 2016
Suzanne Zimbler
The Flying Eye Hospital got its start more than 30 years ago.
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Elisa Urruchi is a nurse at an eye hospital. It has top-quality equipment. It also has a classroom for doctors and nurses. But what makes the hospital truly special is that it is inside an airplane.

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital travels to places where many people do not have access to medical care. Doctors perform eye surgery on the plane.

Urruchi says she will never forget one young patient in Peru. Surgery allowed the boy to see. Afterwards, he refused to let go of his doctor. Urruchi says the boy believed that if the doctor went away, so too might his sight.

A boy has an eye exam onboard the Flying Eye Hospital.

GEOFF BUGBEE

Sharing Skills

Only a small number of the millions of people who need eye surgery can be treated on the plane. That is why training is so important. The plane's doctors and nurses work with local health-care workers. "I'm glad I have this opportunity to share my knowledge and skills," Urruchi told TFK.

Many members of the plane's staff are volunteers. Dr. H. Jay Wisnicki is a children's eye surgeon. He has volunteered onboard the hospital for 20 years. He treats patients and teaches other doctors. He says the goal is to give more people medical care.

Angela Purcell is the head nurse on the plane. She travels 40 weeks a year for work. But she would not trade her job for any other. "It's so gratifying," she says.

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