Dr. Robert Forbes has been treating patients at CBHA’s Eye Care Clinic
in Othello since March of 2018. His first task upon arriving in Othello
was to set up an eye glasses manufacturing lab in Othello. “Patients
are enjoying the convenience and cost savings of having their glasses
manufactured locally,” Forbes said.
Dr. Forbes is also a Lt Col and Chief of Optometric Services for the Washington
Air National Guard. He is in his 24th year of service. He has participated
in numerous training and humanitarian missions domestically and internationally.
His most recent trip was to Hawaii in August of 2018 where he was in charge
of a team of 14 optometrists and over 30 technicians. Clinics were set
up in Hana, Central Maui, Kihei, Lahaina, Lanai and Molokai. “The
people who live here are very underserved – especially the indigenous
people,” Forbes said.
He pointed out that these missions are also about training troops. “In
an effort to train troops in an environment where we can set up an austere
clinic for young airmen, soldiers and sailors, and run medical facilities
in available buildings or outside in tents, we do these domestic missions
so we can train soldiers without bullets flying overhead. It serves a
joint mission with us being able to also provide medical, dental, vision
and mental health care to people who might not have it otherwise. Poverty
levels on the Hawaiian Islands are very high.”
Dr. Forbes received the Innovations Medal for Meritorious Service on this
mission because he
developed a system wherein eye glass prescriptions written by providers
in the remote sites could be transmitted electronically to the lab enabling
lab personnel to manufacture them as soon as they were received. “This
allowed shifts to be cut from 24 hours to 6 hours,” Forbes said.
Missions of this type usually run for two weeks. “We ran into some
snags this time,” Forbes said.“ During that time we experienced
a hurricane and an earthquake. Still, our eye care encounters for this
mission totaled 4,700 with 2,978 pairs of glasses manufactured and dispensed.
And, we got in some disaster preparedness!” No date or destination
has been set for the next mission.