The Flying Samaritans were in town for a clinic last
week (October 2006). Regarding their visit the following
article, written by Modesto Bee staff writer Ken Carlson,
appeared in that publication.
Felipe in Baja California has maintained ties with medical
professionals in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Thanks
to that relationship, 147 adults and children in San
Felipe have clearer eyesight this week, allowing them
to work or read their textbooks in school.
In addition, 60 patients walked away from last
week's Flying Samaritans' clinic with healthier spines,
necks and joints; others had health problems diagnosed
and were referred for follow-up care. Those
patients attended a clinic Friday held by the Central
Valley chapter of Flying Satnaritans, a nonprofit
group that has brought medical relief to San Felipe
since the mid-1980s.
Thursday afternoon, the team flew out of Modesto
Airport with seven planes and 25 volunteers arriving
in San Felipe that evening. They operated an
all-day clinic in a physician’s office Friday,
fitting glasses for patients and giving chiropractic
treatments. The group returned Sunday.
San Felipe sits on the Sea of Cortez, and many
of its 30,000 residents make their living from fishing
This was not the first tine the Flyingm Samaritans
offered optical care to San Felipe residents.
"There is a lot of glare on the water and exposure
to ultraviolet light,” said Dr. Walter Schimon,
a Modesto physician and president of the Flying Samaritans
chapter. "There is a huge amount of people
who develop cataracts and other eye disorders. Many
of them are almost blind."
The medical team included optometrist John Demshar
of Stockton, chiropractor Kelly Mabe, of Turlock, pilots,
nurses, Spanish interpreters and a few nonmedical volunteers.
Demshar brought about 1,000 pair of donated glasses,
which had been marked with prescriptions so they could
be matched with patients. The Samaritans also
brought a donated autoretractor to assist with
eye examinations. Patients were given glasses that were
as close as possible to what they needed.
Three Missions Planned for 2007
Azzitta Rhamani, a pre-med student at the University
of California at Merced, helped by escorting patients
from the waiting area to the exam rooms and having them
read eye charts. Many patients, after receiving
their glasses, were thrilled that they could read or
see where they were walking for the first time in years.
"One man who was in his 60s was very quiet
while he was waiting," Rhamani said. "When
he came out with his glasses, he opened up so much.
He tried to tell us any way he could how thankful he
Mabe noted that many of the patients he examined
had degenerative problems of the neck, back, shoulders
or knees due to hard living conditions. "They
do a lot of physical labor, a lot of lifting,"
Mabe said. "They are going to wear out quicker
because of their more difficult lifestyle and poor nutrition."
Mabe performed spinal adjustments and softtissue
manipulations to relieve pain. Also, he taught exercises
to patients to help them improve mobility in their joints.
More intensive treatment will be offered on
a future trip when the Samaritans have access to X-ray
equipment in a San Felipe hospital.
Mabe, who owns a Piper Cherokee 235, initially
volunteered as a pilot with Flying Samaritans but now
does double duty on the relief missions. The Central
Valley group is one of 10 Flying Samaritans chapters
in California and, Arizona. The team previously
made two trips a year to San Felipe, but is revving
up for three missions in 2007.
Schimon said an ear, nose and throat clinic is
planned in February. Specialists are expected to operate
on a number of children with untreated tonsillitis.
Cataract surgeries are planned in May, and a third
trip is being developed for later in the year. The doctors
laid the groundwork for the 2007 trips by meeting with
the new owner of an infirmary in San Felipe last week.
"We haven't been using the hospital because
of some internal problems they had," Schimon said.
"A new owner just bought the hospital and he invited
us back to perform surgeries."
The 2007 clinics are Feb. 15-18, May 17-20, and
This article about the October
2006 clinic was written by Rachel Winfrey.
Anyone interested in donating time, money or medical
equipment to Flying Samailtans may contact Schimon at
group is in need of volunteer nurses. People with no
medical training may also volunteer.