Miracle Moments Miracle Moments In Work Life


OSA IS A 15-YEAR-OLD Mexican immigrant who came to the United States last year with her family. As a young girl, she suffered an eye injury that left her right eye deformed and opaque. She entered the school system in Houston and was having a difficult time with classes due to the language barrier and difference in cultures.

One day, Rosa’s mother brought her to the CHRISTUS Southwest Community Medical Center for a checkup. Rosa had been attacked by a group of girls at school who had been taunting her for some time due to her appearance. A fight ensued, and Rosa had been beaten by the girls. While her physical injuries were minor, Rosa’s spirit was terribly broken as a result of her language barrier and unsightly eye. In fact, she said she never wanted to return to school!

That evening, I went home wondering what we could do for Rosa to make her life better. I knew her family had no money for cosmetic surgery or a prosthesis, but eventually, it occurred to me that a cosmetic contact lens might do the trick. I decided to contact the San Jose clinic, and there, I talked with the physician in charge of the University of Houston Optometry clinic. He agreed to see Rosa and to also have her examined by an ophthalmologist to ensure that her eye could not be repaired.

When we told the family, they were elated. The clinic staff had graciously given Rosa an appointment for the next day, and we emphasized how important it was to arrive on time. The next day, Rosa’s mother showed up at our clinic, without Rosa, an hour before her daughter’s scheduled appointment at the San Jose clinic. Distressed, she explained that she had been afraid to take her daughter out of school after the fighting incident and that she wasn’t sure if she could even find a ride downtown.

While I called the school and obtained permission for Rosa to leave for the appointment, we sent the mother to collect her daughter immediately. From the school, Rosa and her mother took a cab downtown, but due to the language barrier, ended up at CHRISTUS St. Joseph Hospital, rather than the San José clinic. After wandering around there for a while, an unknown Associate, who has obviously learned the CHRISTUS core values well, stopped the two and took time to find out where they were trying to go. When the Associate realized they were in the wrong place, he took it upon himself to find a ride for Rosa and her mother so they could get to the San José clinic as quickly as possible.

They arrived at the clinic three hours late for their appointment, but when the staff heard their story, they agreed to see Rosa anyway. After several ophthalmologic examinations, it was decided that a cosmetic contact lens would be the best option for Rosa and that she needed glasses as well. The physician from the School of Optometry just happened to know some members of the Lyons Club Eye Foundation Board, so he consulted with them. They agreed to pay for the contact lens and new glasses for Rosa.

Rosa’s new “look” has given her a new outlook on life, and she has since come back to visit our clinic. She smiles now, is more confident, styles her hair differently (before, she combed it over her face to cover her eye) and is doing much better in school.

This is a marvelous example of how many people coming together can significantly change the life of a child for the better. Rosa’s smile was the only payment we needed for our collective efforts.

Sister Rosanne Popp, M.D.
CHRISTUS Southwest Community Health Center
Houston, Texas