Global Healthcare & Vision Restoration

Sights on Health, Inc. is a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization.  Initially incorporated in 2013 as A Promise to Peru, Inc. the story of how the organization came into existence is a great one. It began with John Shanley, M.D. M.P.H., Associate Dean for International Programs at Stony Brook School of Medicine, Stony Brook, N.Y. He and one of his medical students Jacob Tatka (aka Kuba) went to the Sacred Valley with Case Western Reserve University Medical School and the Cleveland Clinic ‘s annual Peru mission trip in 2009. Their experience was so positive that Dr. Shanley returned the following year with a group of medical students from Stony Brook. The students formed a Peruvian interest group in 2011 with Dr. Shanley as their mentor. In 2011, at a Stony Brook Alumni cocktail party Dr. Shanley met Debra Messina, M.D. and her husband George Coritsidis, M.D., a nephrologist and critical care specialist. Dr. Shanley invited them with their two children to join him with a group of physicians and medical students traveling to Peru in June.  There they met other participants from Stony Brook – Natalie DiGioia, M.D., an emergency medicine physician, her father Robert and her sister Paula DiGioia (who is the website designer and manager of this website).  They also met Michael Cipoletti, a friend of John’s from Boston. He had established his own nongovernmental organization (NGO), Friends NE (now known as FNE International).  The mission had physicians of various specialties and provided general medical care to people living in remote villages perched high in the Andes Mountains. In addition to the medical clinic Dr. Messina, an ophthalmologist had trained the medical students to dispense several hundred pairs of reading glasses to people over the age of 40.  The Peruvians were pleasantly surprised to find out they could see near once again with a simple pair of glasses.  Most of them thought they would never be able to do so. Unfortunately, despite being able to restore vision to many people with eyeglasses, it quickly became apparent there were many patients with mature cataracts. The only solution to restore their vision would be to transport a portable operating room with a team of eye surgeons and support staff to perform eye surgery.  Upon returning to NY, Dr. Messina spoke with Dr. Shanley about her idea and he said three simple words to her “Go for it”.  According to Dr. Shanley: “When she came back she was so on fire and so the next thing I know is she’s coming in telling me that she’s put together a surgical mission and she’s going to do cataract surgery in Urubamba and I’m going Deborah this is the dirtiest place in the world and she says we can do it so she takes a surgical team down there for a week and they did 35 cataract removals and lens replacements and had no complications in 2012.”  This first cataract surgical mission was located at the Fundacion Niños del Arco Iris , an elementary school in Urubamba, Peru.  The team was small but very efficient. A one room dental clinic was transformed into a surgical suite and Michael Sable, M.D. was the cataract surgeon and remains the main eye surgeon for the organization.

After the team returned from their first successful cataract surgical mission the original physicians decided to form an organization. They named it A Promise to Peru in 2012.  There were friends & family members who donated their time and talents to assist in the formation of the nonprofit.  Michael Coritsidis, Esq. incorporated the organization in 2013, Bob Kouroupakis, CPA obtained the IRS 501(c)3 nonprofit status in 2014 & files the annual taxes. Renata Brand, CPA was the book keeper until 2017.  The organization has been the recipient of extremely generous financial supporters who believed in the work that was being accomplished.  As a result of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, the nonprofit has purchased the necessary medical equipment, eye surgical equipment and instruments to create a portable operating room, medical and eye clinics.  This enables the team to provide high quality medical care, eye care and surgery wherever they travel by transporting the necessary supplies via commercial airlines. Through the years the NGO has gathered a board of directors who are very devoted and passionate about the cause.  Countless hours have been donated by them to ensure the organization is well run and well-funded.  Meet each of the board members and officers of the Sights on Health, Inc. by reading their stories below.

From 2012-2017, an annual combined cataract surgical and medical mission went to Peru (2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019) and to Ecuador (2015, 2018 & 2019). Physicians and allied healthcare professionals from across the USA have joined the NGO; as many as 30-40% have returned more than once with the team.  Medical students from across the country participate. Their institutions include: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook, Columbia University, Upstate Medical School, NYCOM at NYIT, University of Texas, Robert Wood Johnson, & St. George’s University. In addition to nursing, nurse practitioner and physician assistant students from Pace & Stony Brook Universities.  In 2018 the NGO’s outreach was expanded to three missions per year.  After years of attempting to provide medical and eye care to Native Americans in need within the United States an opportunity arose to work with nonprofit Artists for World Peace & their NATIVE EYES mission on Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 2018 & 2019.

A Promise to Peru, Inc. realized the time came to change the nonprofit’s name.  The name needed to describe what the organization provides- global healthcare and vision restoration, hence the new name Sights on Health, Inc.  The name is the only aspect of the organization that has changed- the mission statement remains the same as are the people who run the nonprofit organization. Our volunteers will continue to provide quality medical care, eye care and eye surgery through the global missions.  Our outreach will continue to serve where we are needed in South America and now North America as well.

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MEET OUR BOARD MEMBERS AND OFFICERS OF SIGHTS ON HEALTH, INC:

Debra Messina, M.D.
President, Sights on Health, Inc.
Board Member

Debra Messina, M.D. is Co-Founder of A Promise to Peru, Inc. and President of the non-profit organization Sights on Health, Inc. She graduated from Stony Brook Medical School, Stony Brook, New York in 1988 and completed her Ophthalmology residency program at Nassau County Medical Center, East Meadow, New York in 1992. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Ophthalmology; Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Stony Brook Medical School; Faculty Advisor to medical students at Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook, NY for Sights on Health, Inc. Cataract Surgical and Medical Missions; and a member of the Executive Board of Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook Alumni Board of Directors. Her interest in International Ophthalmology began in 2011 by observing firsthand the large number of people with advanced cataracts, a treatable cause of blindness. It motivated her to establish a cataract surgical mission. By working with Peruvian physicians, local community members and multiple nonprofit organizations she was able to accomplish her goal. Dr. Messina collaborated with a California nonprofit Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) to borrow the necessary equipment for eye surgery: an operating microscope, an autoclave, a phacoemulsification machine and surgical instruments. Thanks to the generosity of many donors, Sights on Health owns the majority of the surgical equipment. Every year Dr. Messina works with SEE and ALCON to ensure the necessary supplies for the surgical mission are transported with the mission team. ALCON has provided over $1,000,000 worth of surgical supplies and medications since 2012. This grant enables the nonprofit to provide state of the art cataract surgery to more than 540 patients as of 2018.  Presently a portable eye clinic and operating room are now ready to travel anywhere in the world with equipment owned by Sights on Health, Inc. Her team of ophthalmologists and support staff are able to diagnose and treat common eye conditions and perform site restoring eye surgeries such as cataract removal. Her goal is to continue to focus the efforts of Sights on Health, Inc. on global outreach cataract surgical and medical programs in Peru, Ecuador and other communities worldwide that require assistance.

 

Cathy Roberts
Secretary, Sights on Health, Inc.
Board Member

Cathy Roberts has 20 years experience directing volunteer based organizations.  She has won recognition and awards for her work. Her past board experiences include Girl Scouts of America, the graduate board at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception and board positions with the diocese of Rockville Centre.  She brings an eclectic background to our board with degrees in education, fine arts, healthcare and theology. Her graduate degrees are in theology from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington NY and religious education from Felician College in Lodi NJ.  She is currently pursuing a post grad certificate in spiritual direction.
Cathy is an associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood and was recently elected to serve on their board. Her philosophy of love of God and dear neighbor without distinction fits the mission to serve the poorest among us through her work with Sights on Health, Inc.

 

George N. Coritsidis, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Medical Director, Sights on Health, Inc.
Board Member

Dr. George N. Coritsidis is Professor of Medicine and Surgery Departments of Surgery and Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. Dr. Coritsidis, who is board certified in critical care medicine, nephrology and internal medicine attained his medical degree at SUNY Upstate Medical College in Syracuse, NY, where he also completed his internship at SUNY Upstate Medical Center followed by his residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Coritsidis subsequently completed his fellowship in nephrology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York.  Currently, Dr. Coritsidis is Chief of Nephrology at the Elmhurst Hospital Center which is reputed to serve the most ethnically-diverse community in New York City.  He heads one of a few programs that offer the opportunity to be boarded in both nephrology and critical care. In addition, he is the director of the Broadway Dialysis Center in Elmhurst, New York.  Dr. Coritsidis has been with the organization since its inception, going on the first trip to Peru in 2011. As Medical Director, he has worked tirelessly to create a portable medical clinic that provides sustainable and quality medical care. Realizing the need for additional diagnostic equipment, he established a relationship with SonoSite, Global Health. Each year since 2013, a portable ultrasound machine is loaned to the organization for the medical mission. This has significantly increased the diagnostic capabilities of the physicians. He has been instrumental in establishing the Annual Evening Lecture Symposium for the medical students who participate in each mission. This is a series of lectures meant to prepare them for their clinical experience abroad, along with exposure to the cultural sensitivities of the county to be visited.  His lectures include Workup of Abdominal Pain, Altitude Sickness and recently Essentials of Ultrasonography. His desire to add a research component to the NGO has led to a poster presentation by the medical students from Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook at Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) annual conference in Washington, D.C. in 2014. “A Retrospective Chart Review to Determine the Effect of Portable Ultrasonography on Diagnostic Capability in the Peruvian Andes”.  Dr. Coritsidis was the keynote speaker for the 2017 Peruvian American Medical Society (PAMS) sponsored “Acute Renal Failure Seminar” at ES-SALUD Hospital in Cusco, Peru as well as giving lectures to local physicians in the Sacred Valley in 2013. Every year since 2011, he has participated in the medical missions to Peru and Ecuador; Dr. Coritsidis is passionate about global health.

 

Michael Sable, M.D.
Surgical Director, Sights on Health, Inc.
Board Member

Dr. Michael Sable is a 1992 graduate of Stony Brook School of Medicine.  After completing his residency in Ophthalmology in 1996 at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, he went on to train with the most respected eye surgeons in the country at the prestigious fellowship at the Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He now specializes in complex cataract, anterior segment surgery and laser surgery of the eye at Long Island Eye Care in Nassau County where he a partner.  Dr. Sable is board certified and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  He is very passionate about helping those that have little or no access to health care and as such he has become a board member for Sights on Health, Inc.  Dr. Sable is also a clinical instructor for the North Shore/LIJ hospital residency program and has been teaching residents surgical techniques for more than 21 years.  He has published many articles and lectured on topics including perioperative and operative surgical treatment of the eye.  He is a consultant to some of the major eye pharmaceutical companies.  In his spare time, you will find him wearing number 26 on the baseball diamond pursuing his second favorite occupation…. The desire to make it to the major leagues.

 

James Rienzo
Director of Industry Relations, Sights on Health, Inc.
Board Member

Jim is Vice President of Business Development for SightMD, a private equity backed eye care delivery company based in Hauppauge, N.Y. Jim has over 28 years of eye care practice management, consulting and development experience. His areas of expertise include strategic planning, practice development, practice efficiency, market analysis, operations and financial management. Jim has written numerous articles for various industry publications, including Ophthalmology ManagementOphthalmology TimesEye World, Review of Ophthalmology, and Administrative Eyecare. In addition, he was past chairman of the practice management program for the Wilmer Current Concepts meeting for 15 years as well as the Wills Eye and the New Jersey Academy of Ophthalmology practice management sections.  Jim joined Sights on Health as Director of Industry Relations in June of 2014 and now sits on the Board.  He is a 1983 graduate of The Catholic University of America and currently splits his time residing in Smithtown, N.Y and Manasquan, NJ.

 

 Andrew Maggiolo
Treasurer, Sights on Health, Inc.

Andrew J. Maggiolo, graduated from Pace University, Pleasantville, NY with a BBA, Accounting degree May 1983.  Worked for Touche Ross & Company upon graduation, moved on to other Financial Institutions such as Merrill Lynch Capital Markets, Searson Leahman Hutton Incorporated and UBS Painewebber in managerial and executive positions focusing on corporate finance. He is involved with “The Home of Hope” nonprofit that supports a Tibetan Orphanage for 130 children as a financial advisor, fundraiser and volunteer at the actual orphanage for 3 weeks in China. Andy is excited to give back to a cause he believes in as treasurer.

Joseph Ng, M.D.
Board Member, Sights on Health, Inc.

Joseph Ng is a Critical Care Intensivist, Residency Director, and Chief Medical Information Officer at Mather Hospital/Northwell Health that has been involved with Sights on Health, Inc. since 2013. Raised in Puerto Rico, he graduated from Ponce School of Medicine in 2003. He went on to finish his Internal Medicine residency at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Staten Island where he was also chief resident. He then went on to a Surgical ICU fellowship at The Mount Sinai Hospital in NY where he was also chief fellow in 2009. Dr. Ng currently practices Critical Care Medicine at Mather Hospital/Northwell Health in Port Jefferson, Long Island where has also been the CMIO since 2010. As the founding program director for the Transitional Year Residency, Dr. Ng has a faculty appointment at Stony Brook Medicine and Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. Joseph has also had the honor of recruiting former Promise to Peru medical students to become his residents, giving him the unique opportunity to influence their education and growth across different stages of their career. It is this same passion for education and his dedication to help those less fortunate that has made Dr. Joseph Ng such a strong advocate and participant in our non-profit organization.

 

The Founders of A Promise to Peru, Inc.

Co-founders of A Promise to Peru, Inc. - Debra Messina M.D., John Shanley M.D.M.P.H. & Natalie DiGioia M.D

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IN MEMORY OF CO-FOUNDER JOHN D. SHANLEY, MD, MPH

John Shanley, M.D. M.P.H., Co-founder & former Vice President of A Promise to Peru, Inc. passed away in 2016.  Sights on Health, Inc. has named their medical mission in memory of him: JOHN SHANLEY, M.D. M.P.H MEDICAL MISSION. In doing so Dr. Shanley’s passion, his life’s work and his memory will live on by continuing to reach out to those in need and provide care to medically underserve populations. In addition, the JOHN SHANLEY, M.D. M.P.H AWARD FOR GLOBAL EXCELLENCE has been established in his honor. http://sightsonhealth.org/get-involved/ The award enables previous mission participants who are not physicians or students to participate in subsequent missions. These individuals are passionate about their involvement in the mission and would otherwise likely be unable to participate with the frequency that they have been able to do as a result of this award. It has been made possible thanks to Mrs. Linda Shanley for her generous financial support of this award in memory of her husband.  Anyone wishing to make a donation in Dr Shanley’s memory please visit apromisetoperu.com/donate/

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PAST BOARD MEMBER
“It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to Dr. Natalie DiGioia as she leaves our Board”.  Natalie was one of our co-founders and her intelligent and thoughtful guidance on the Board will be sorely missed.

Natalie M.DiGioia M.D.FACEP
Former Treasurer, A Promise to Peru, Inc.

Natalie M. DiGioia M.D. FACEP, Co-founder & former Treasurer of A Promise to Peru, Inc. She is Diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and has attained Fellowship status in the American College of Emergency Physicians. She completed her medical school training in 2001 and residency in 2004 from Stony Brook University Medical center in Long Island New York.  She enjoys her role as a clinical assistant professor in emergency medicine and currently cares for patients at Stony Brook University Medical Center and LI Urgent Care.  Dr. DiGioia has also practiced emergency medicine in the community settings of Brookhaven Memorial Hospital and Peconic Bay Medical Center in the past. Dr. DiGioia is a Diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and and has attained Fellowship status in the American College of Emergency Physicians  based on her peer review roles, research and a community outreach program where she helped teach grammar school children the importance of health care and doctor visits. She is certified in Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. Dr. DiGioia widened her scope of medical practice and interest when she began her involvement in a global medicine outreach mission with her first trip to the sacred valley of Peru in July 2011.  She was inspired by this trip where she helped to deliver needed medical care to the underserved population in and around Urubamba, Peru. She served on the Board of Directors of A Promise to Peru, Inc. until 2017.

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MEET OUR ADVISORS:

Paula DiGioia
Website Designer & Technology Advisor, Sights on Health, Inc.

 

Damaris Raymondi, O.D.
Leader of Young Professionals Committee,  Sights on Health, Inc.

Dr. Raymondi is an optometrist who is a 2015 graduate from the SUNY College of Optometry. She currently practices in downtown Manhattan providing comprehensive eye care including contact lens fittings and dilated retinal evaluations. She began volunteering with our non-profit as an optometry student in 2014 and has participated in five mission trips with us since then.

As leader of the Young Professionals Committee she hopes to continue to plan fund raising events involving other young professionals and is also focused on involving more pre-optometry and pre-med students and have them learn more about our organization. A lot of previous participants have stayed with us throughout the years and it would be great to expose students to global healthcare early on both to inspire them throughout their careers and to create bigger impact and change more patient’s lives for the better.

 

Michael Cipoletti
Operations in Peru Advisor,  Sights on Health, Inc.

Michael Cipoletti is the Executive Director of FNE International (www.fneinternational.org). Founded in 2011, FNE stands for Facilitate, Network, and Empower. It is a Boston based nonprofit with a mission to partner with communities in developing nations to identify opportunities to advance housing, health and education. By Facilitating collaboration and Networking with local and international organizations, FNE strives to seize those opportunities and Empower individuals to do the same as engaged members of their community and the world. Currently, FNE is active in Nicaragua, Peru and the Dominican Republic with projects ranging from houses, latrines and water filtration to micro-financing, scholarships and medical programs providing consistent access to high quality care. FNE embraces a hand-in-hand philosophy working with communities to identify and prioritize needs before seeking sustainable solutions. 

 

Victor Rozas, M.D., Peruvian American Medical Society & Francisco Morales, M.D., Asociacion Winaypaq,  Cuzco, Peru

These two physicians are the critical connection between Sights on Health, Inc. and the healthcare provider system in Peru. Every year since 2012 Victor Rozas, M.D., past President of the Peruvian American Medical Society obtains the necessary letter of invitation from the Peruvian Ministry of Health, the temporary medical licenses for the healthcare providers and submits the necessary travel manifest to Peruvian Customs and the Peruvian Consulate. This enables the NGO to transport hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, medication and supplies to Peru.  The second indispensable person is Francisco Morales, M.D. of Asociacion Winaypaq, Cuzco, Peru. Working with Dr. Messina since 2013, Dr. Morales has been instrumental in the months leading up to the mission by screening patients for cataract surgeries as well as providing the local medical communities information as to which medical specialists will be joining the team each year.  He arranges travel to remote areas of Peru to identify patients in need of sight restoring surgeries. Sights on Health, Inc. covers the cost of the screenings & the transportation for the groups of patients to be bused from villages (some of them 8 hours away) to the portable operating room. Overnight lodging and food is provided for the surgical patients along with transportation one week later to ensure they receive the necessary post-operative care.  These two men and their organizations enable Sights on Health, Inc. to provide medical care in the locations that have the greatest need. Their involvement enables the mission physicians to refer patients with advanced medical and eye conditions for proper follow up with healthcare providers from the Peruvian Ministry of Health.  Sustainable healthcare, not medical tourism has always been and will continue to be the goal of Sights on Health, Inc. thanks to Dr. Rozas and Dr. Morales’ long-standing efforts and commitment.