Preparing for Mission of Mercy 2024

Mission of Mercy volunteer helping a man choose eyeglasses

Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh’s 2023 event shattered all records. The two-day annual event provides free vision, hearing, and dental care. This year’s event will be held Nov 1-2, 2024.

More than 825 patients received vision care last October, with most of them getting free glasses. Otology saw 113 patients, and hearing tests were completed on 447 people, with a total of 543 hearing aids distributed and 274 individuals receiving them.

Jake Waxman, MD, PhD, Director of UPMC Eye Center Mercy, said the Department has a good model for Mission of Mercy. Patients being seen by ophthalmology at Mission of Mercy can receive free eyeglasses, as well as be scheduled for much-needed follow-up care for more serious eye issues. As in previous years, Vision to Learn will also be present at the event to screen adolescent patients.  

Catherine V. Palmer, PhD, Director of UPMC Audiology, said after the first year of hearing testing and fitting hearing aids in 2022, they changed things in the process to streamline efforts and cut down wait times the following year. These changes included having “stations” for hearing aid after care. This allowed people to learn hearing aid care and maintenance, connect their smart phone to the hearing aid, and find out about smart phone apps for speech to text, and get information on Pittsburgh free clinics for hearing care year-round.

“These changes allowed us to provide more people with hearing aids and provide them with the specific assistance they needed,” Dr. Palmer said. “We will keep this format in 2024, but our student Schweitzer Fellows who support our free clinics are working on training videos for our volunteers so they will be comfortable providing this range of services. Our enhanced training of volunteers should make this an even better experience for the people coming to see us at Mission of Mercy in 2024.”

Mission of Mercy Chairman Keith Young said each year, improvement needs are assessed and implemented at the following clinic. Additionally, “providing this high-quality care is expensive, so funding from sponsors and individuals is critical to fulfilling the Mission,” he added. “Monetary support and in-kind donations from companies and individuals are always needed and are truly appreciated.”

Annually, the Eye & Ear Foundation raises roughly $125,000 for the Mission of Mercy event for equipment, hearing aids, and other necessities. Only about half has been raised so far this year.  Volunteers are also needed, particularly for the early morning and Saturday shifts. Interpreters are also in demand. If you’d like information about volunteering for Mission of Mercy, you can reach out to Craig Smith at