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Three St. Michael’s employees invited to reception for the Queen

An operating room nurse from St. Michael’s Hospital who organizes an annual eye care and surgery mission to the Philippines and two St. Michael’s doctors who travel with her will be among the guests mingling with Queen Elizabeth at Queen’s Park this morning.

Toronto, July 6, 2010

Zenny Gepilano Zenny Gepilano

The guest list for Premier Dalton McGuinty’s reception includes Zenny Gepilano, who began the St. Michael’s Hospital Urban Angels Philippines Mission in 2005; Dr. Gordon Squires, an ophthalmologist who has gone with her every year; and Dr. Bob Hyland, a respirologist.

In April the three were awarded June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Awards for Voluntarism, which recognize individuals and groups who have made an exceptional contribution to volunteerism in Ontario.

Gepilano, a native of the Philippines, took 27 volunteers on her first two-week mission to provide eye care and surgery for Filipinos who are financially disadvantaged. The mission has become an annual event, which grows every year, and now involves about 50 doctors, nurses and other health care workers who perform a range of minor surgeries. Each of them donates his or her time and pays their own travel expenses – each year volunteers from the hospital staff collectively use 800 vacation days for the mission.

The team is currently concentrating in the Midwestern Islands of the Philippines. This year, they distributed 9,000 pairs of glasses, saw 3,875 patients, performed 63 cataract and 87 minor surgeries over nine days in six locations.

“It’s a very nice invitation, but it’s not for me — it’s for all of us here at St. Michael’s,” Gepilano said of today’s honour. “This program, I cannot do it on my own without the support of everyone.”