By Mary O’KEEFE
After 21 years of helping thousands of people with sight issues, the Beeve Foundation is moving into the future with a strong team of doctors, organization founders who continue to work hands-on with patients, and now new responsibilities are being handed to a longtime family and team member.
It all started with a 25th wedding anniversary trip to Turtle Island, Fiji. Little did Dr. Jerold Beeve and wife Dorothy realize that 22 years later they would still be traveling to Fiji, not to celebrate their anniversary but to celebrate the gift of sight.
“In 1989, we went down to Fiji for our 25th anniversary,” Dorothy said. “We found that they had no eyesight care.”
What the Beeves saw was a need for eye care extending from basic care all the way to surgery. They decided to help and returned to Fiji, prepared to examine and treat those in need of medical attention. The Beeve Foundation was established soon thereafter and in April this year made its 21st trip to Fiji.
During those first few years of the Beeve Foundation’s visits, examinations were done in their converted hotel room. Each year, the foundation has grown, as has its facilities. In all, 13 years were spent on Turtle Island, then six years in Savusavu and the last two in Natuvu.
One of the most common surgeries is for cataracts but they have also treated eye tumors and accidents that affected the eyes.
“We do all the same [surgeries] as they would here [in the states],” Dorothy said. “We have also done cornea transplants.”
For those patients who need more care than what is available in Fiji, the Beeves bring them to California for treatment.
“We have brought 15 patients over here,” she said. “They have lived in our home.”
The team consists of doctors Mario Meallet, Rey Pangilinan, Ervin Fang, Jonathon Song and Scott Beeve, Jerold and Dorothy’s son. There are several nurses who accompany the team including Dorothy, who is a registered nurse. The staff from Beeve’s medical office, located across from Verdugo Hills Hospital, also helps with paperwork and coordination.
“And we do have some [nurses and doctors who join us] from Australia after Dr. Beeve met them in Fiji,” Fang said. “They asked about the foundation.”
In Fiji, the doctors and nurses average about 26 surgeries a day in a medical facility that has no air conditioning. Although the facilities may not be what the doctors are used to in California, they continue to do surgeries and treatments without pause.
“And we have never had an infection,” Jerold said. “That is because of these guys (the doctors). They are all handpicked surgeons.”
In addition to being dedicated doctors, they also work well together in not so favorable conditions.
“This is a number one team,” Jerold added. “There is a lot of camaraderie.”
At a recent breakfast meeting, members of the Beeve Foundation team gathered to discuss upcoming trips and the direction of the foundation.
The foundation will continue as it has for years helping the Fiji people. Jerold and Dorothy will continue to take trips to Fiji and continue to help. Their son and longtime medical team member Scott Beeve will take on more responsibility.
The success of the Beeve Foundation can see seen, literally, in the number of medical treatments resulting from more than 25,900 eye examinations, 24,000 pairs of glasses given to patients and 2,000 surgeries.
To read more information about the Beeve Foundation or to donate to the organization. visit www.fijiforsight.org.