St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group is the only charitable provider of expert eye care in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, treating patients regardless of ethnicity, religion or ability to pay
Their Jerusalem Hospital has been operating for over 130 years. It has a large, modern outpatients department, specialist retinal, corneal, orthoptic and paediatric units, operating theatres and 24 hour emergency services. They are the first Palestinian hospital to receive JCI accreditation.
The West Bank is subject to a system of movement restrictions, including the Separation Wall, permit system, settler-only roads, and the many checkpoints. They have had to expand their services to be accessible to as many residents of the West Bank as possible, especially as 20% of patients from the West Bank are denied permits to enter Jerusalem. Their Anabta Clinic is accessible to the 1 million residents in Anabta and surrounding towns. Those living in the area are amongst the poorest in the oPt and many are refugees from Gaza. Their Hebron Hospital is a vital source of eye care for an area which is particularly affected by the movement restrictions in the West Bank. The hospital provides sight-saving treatments such as cataract and laser eye surgery to treat diabetic retinopathy, and serves the 640,000 people who live in and around Hebron, including the semi-nomadic Bedouins of the Negev Desert.
Their Gaza Hospital was established in 1992 to meet the growing need for eye care in a population that has been facing increasing difficulties in accessing the main hospital in Jerusalem. Over 1.8 million Palestinians live in isolation in Gaza, one of the most heavily populated areas in the world, of which 1.3 million are refugees. In December 2015, 1/3 of patients from Gaza were denied access to the West Bank to receive medical care. This serves as a reminder of the need for their services in the area. Their hospital remains the leading provider of ophthalmic services, working in near-emergency conditions, yet to the same high standards as their main hospital. Their new Gaza Hospital opened in June 2016.
Their Mobile Outreach Programme delivers essential eye care to some of the most remote and impoverished communities in the West Bank, and serves a population of 2.5 million people. The teams coordinate permits needed for patients with complex eye issues to be referred to one of their centres. In 2015 they reinstated their second Mobile Outreach unit, leading to a significant increase in patient numbers. Their three-year Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programme finished in 2015. They surpassed their targets and will continue the programme. They will also be taking a similar programme to refugee camps in Jordan during 2016.
Their Sir Stephen Miller School of Nursing is the only provider of specialist ophthalmic nursing training in the oPt. Upon completion, graduates are awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Ophthalmic Nursing, accredited by the University of West London. Many nurses who undertake the course are given future employment with them. Their 4-year Medical Residency Programme at the Jerusalem Hospital trains local doctors. Once qualified, doctors can specialise in a particular area of ophthalmology under their Fellowship Programme. Their Joint Teaching Programme in partnership with the Israeli Hadassah Medical Center, is where many of their doctors undertake their training. This partnership allows their doctors to access training that is not available to them in the oPt; as well as encouraging constructive relationships between Israelis and Palestinians.
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