> Global impact: Generous donors support global health efforts for cataract blindness
Generous donors support global health efforts for cataract blindness
Over two decades ago, Joanne and Arthur (Art) Hall were attending the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado when they met Geoffrey Tabin, MD, now the Fairweather Foundation professor of ophthalmology and global medicine at Stanford. They quickly connected over their shared interests in mountaineering and improving health conditions for those in underdeveloped countries.
At the time, Tabin had completed his ophthalmology residency and fellowship training, and had moved to Nepal to treat patients there. There, he met Sanduk Ruit, MD, and together they co-founded the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP). Tabin and Ruit sought to build a sustainable infrastructure for performing cataract eye surgery throughout the Himalayan region (see “Fighting blindness across borders”, page 24).
I am very grateful for the Halls’ friendship and their generous support in helping us address health disparities abroad and even here in the U.S.
“When we first met Geoff, global eye care was still in its early stages, and Joanne and I were moved to support his vision and efforts through philanthropic backing,” Art said. “Besides forming a friendship with Geoff, we also got to travel to Nepal and Bhutan to see the work they were doing firsthand.”
There the Halls observed a moment they would not forget. After cataract surgery, patients’ eyes are covered with bandages and are removed the next morning.
“Patients began to cry,” Joanne said. “They were seeing their family and friends for the first time in years. Witnessing that solidified for us the importance of this sight-saving work.”
Since then, Tabin and his partners have performed over one million sight-restoring surgeries to transform lives, families, and communities in under-resourced areas of the world.
“Dr. Tabin is a world leader in global health, and we realized that recruiting him to Stanford could greatly extend the impact on global eye care,” Jeffrey Goldberg, MD, PhD, Blumenkranz Smead professor and chair of ophthalmology said. “Our shared vision is to leverage Stanford’s world class research and technological expertise, and expansive reach, to help build sustainable eye care around the globe.”
The Halls were excited to help recruit Tabin to Stanford by funding his endowed professorship, the Fairweather Foundation Professorship, which provides a steady source of support for Tabin to build and refine Stanford’s clinical and educational global health initiatives towards a vision of improved eye care around the world.
Tabin has expanded beyond Nepal across South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with active programs now in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, and Rwanda.
Stanford, as the academic center for these global efforts, is deeply involved in three main ways: faculty, fellows, and residents travel to these countries to perform surgeries and to train local health care providers in state-of-the-art surgical techniques; local in-country physicians come to Stanford for learning and observerships; and Stanford researchers are using technology, including artificial intelligence and telemedicine, to deliver greater access to care, and refining the business and economic models to make global eye care self-sustaining.
“I am very grateful for the Halls’ friendship and their generous support in helping us address health disparities abroad and even here in the U.S.,” Tabin said. “We strive to provide greater access to eye care and to end unnecessary blindness and to date we’ve succeeded in bridging that gap in many global communities.”
The Halls grew up in the same small town of Yakima, Washington. They attended the University of Washington as undergraduates. Joanne received her Licensed Practical Nurse degree from Western Nevada Community College and worked for many years in a small medical practice. Art served as a nuclear engineer in the Naval Reactors Branch of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, achieving the rank of lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. After leaving the Navy, he obtained an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and worked as a financial analyst at a San Francisco-based mutual fund before starting his own investment company in 1970. He managed this business until his retirement in 2008.
Tabin’s global health work is not the only effort the Halls have supported at Stanford. They have a history of generous involvement with Stanford dating back to the 1960s. Art has served on the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution, and the courtyard of the new David and Joan Traitel Building is named in recognition of their generosity. They also support the Clinical Excellence Research Center (CERC) in the medical school, which aims to lower the cost of quality health care, as well as the Graduate School of Business.
“We are fortunate to be able to participate in the joy of giving back,” Art said. “Most recently we supported a research collaboration between CERC and the Department of Ophthalmology that seeks to identify the cost-saving cataract surgery practices developed by Drs. Tabin and Ruit globally and apply them to the U.S.”
The Halls were motivated to support this project after learning that some underserved U.S. populations are unable to access cataract surgery, in part due to the higher cost imposed on care in the U.S.
“Joanne and I are proud to be a part of the innovative work that Stanford is doing both locally and abroad,” said Art.
By MEDICAL CENTER DEVELOPMENT and KATHRYN SILL
Kathryn Sill is a web and communications specialist for the Byers Eye Institute in the Department of Ophthalmology, at Stanford University School of Medicine. Email her at email@example.com.