The Academy is privileged to honor Steve A. Arshinoff, MD, FRCSC, with the 2020 Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award.
This award recognizes Dr. Arshinoff for his commitment to providing ophthalmic medical and surgical care to a very rural population in Northern Ontario, a medically underserved area in the province of Ontario, Canada.
Dr. Arshinoff was nominated by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society for his continued involvement with the Medical Mobile Eye Care Unit (MMECU). He joined this initiative as a resident at the University of Toronto in 1978 and has continued his involvement for the past 42 years. Since 1998, Dr. Arshinoff has been the medical director of the MMECU program. In this capacity, he organizes the program, secures funds, upgrades the facilities, leads the medical team and provides eye care.
The MMECU, also called the Eye Van, started in 1972 as a joint project with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), the Physician Service Organization and the Ontario Ministry of Health to provide ophthalmological care to Northern Ontario. This rural region is home to nearly . Access to ophthalmic care is limited in the northern regions of the province and a significant number of the population either will not or are unable to travel to centers.
Dr. Arshinoff is one of the original two ophthalmologists involved in the program and has continued to this day. The Eye Van has evolved from a Winnebago and a staff of three to a 53-foot semi-trailer with six full-time staff. contribute weeks of their time to care for thousands of patients from 30 isolated communities who have limited or no access to eye care. Under Dr. Arshinoff’s leadership, the Eye Van has significantly improved the lives of countless people to date and has shown the world that geography need not be an insurmountable obstacle to the delivery of modern excellent ophthalmic care.
Dr. Arshinoff is truly the critical cog in the wheel of the Eye Van and, as such, can be largely credited with its success and growth. Dr. Arshinoff has tirelessly advocated for the Eye Van and its innovative ability to deliver ophthalmological care to underserved regions. He has secured continued support and funding from the government, much-needed donations from industry and a strong commitment to service from the ophthalmology community.
Dr. Arshinoff continues his busy practice in Toronto, teaches in the ophthalmology residency program at the University of Toronto and travels the world lecturing and demonstrating surgical techniques to improve the delivery of eye care to the global population. Dr. Arshinoff received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed his ophthalmology residency at the University of Toronto.