Overview of RBI’s Pediatric Surgery Process
Below is a chronological description of how RBI conducts pediatric cataract surgery:
• We maintain a database of children who have been referred to us as possible candidates for eye surgery. Referrals come from our own field staff, community health workers (many of whom have been trained by RBI), family members, neighbors, doctors, and teachers.
• Our field workers conduct visits with the children and their families, for the purposes of assessment and case history.
• We help the family secure partial funding, if applicable, from PhilHealth, the government-provided health insurance program.
• We secure appointments with partner eye doctors, who conduct a thorough health examination to determine readiness for surgery. Often a child will need intermediate health care (to address malnourishment, tuberculosis, or other issues) before he or she is able to undergo surgery. RBI maintains ongoing partnerships with medical providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) who offer reduced rates.
• We help the family make all necessary logistical arrangements for the surgery. Many children live in rural or remote areas, and must travel to the nearest city where our partner eye doctors practice. This creates additional costs of transportation, lodging, meals, and possibly lost wages (depending on which adult is able to accompany the child).
• We work with the child’s family throughout the surgical process itself: surgery, immediate follow-up, one week follow-up, and regular follow-up for three months. Once healing is complete, the child will undergo surgery on the other eye if needed.
• RBI works hard to reduce the overall cost of surgery before requesting sponsorship for a child. Our field workers tap into every possible source of financial help available: PhilHealth (the government-provided health insurance program); local mayors’ offices; the local government units; civic groups such as Lions Club; and churches, vendors, businesses, and individuals who offer medicine, housing, food, and travel assistance.
In short, RBI staff work with the child and the family throughout this process, from initial referral all the way to last follow-up, and beyond.