For National Health Center Week, Points of Light in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers honors health center volunteers, vital team players who help reach out to and serve their uninsured neighbors.
Started back in 2010, Lorain Lions identified a need, locally and in their 10-county district, for affordable, accessible vision care for the most vulnerable population in Lorain, Ohio. At the same time, Lorain County Health & Dentistry (LCH&D), a Community Health Center serving low income, uninsured and under-insured children and adults at 4 sites in Lorain County, identified optometry and eye care as an unmet need among its more than 11,000 primary care patients. Soon enough, the two joined together with a single mission to build a comprehensive and state of the art vision center.
By May 2013, the two groups had raised a stunning $257,000 in donations, grants, and corporate funds from local businesses, which was enough to purchase clinical equipment to examine and treat patients of all ages. Since opening in October of 2013, LCH&D has had 1,765 patient visits. They project, in the 2nd year of service, to have 3,000 vision patient visits, increasing to 3,200 in 2016.
The LCH&D team saw many patients who have never had their eyes examined or who were wearing the wrong eye glasses because they could not afford care or a new prescription. The group was able to solve these issues through their care.
LCH&D continues to improve the community’s health and access to vision care by referring residents in 10 counties to LCH&D, by personally driving them to the vision clinic for care, and by paying for patient’s care, including eye glasses when necessary. There is no other vision clinic available that accepts uninsured individuals and discount fees, based on poverty guidelines, in any of these 10 counties. LCH&D strives to make sure these communities are treated with unbiased care and that they are healthier and happier with their new eyes.
The organization is a wonderful model of community collaboration. A devoted organization, Lion Clubs, partnering with a Community Health Center, has succeeded in making a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of people for generations to come. The group was able to undertake the largest ever volunteer fundraising effort by Lions in the state of Ohio and turn it into something that has changed the community significantly.