Community-Based Initiatives in Vision Care
Over the past several years, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center Ophthalmology residents have provided patients with vision screenings throughout New York City at centers in Flushing and Washington Heights, among others. The residents also participate in screening and follow-up eye care efforts in New York City public housing developments as part of the Manhattan Vision Screening and Follow-Up Study in Vulnerable Populations, a major study led by Lisa Hark, PhD, RD, Administrative Director of the Jonas Children’s Vision Care Program and Director of the Clinical Trials Unit in the Department of Ophthalmology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Similarly, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Ophthalmology residents are involved in several vision outreach programs in New York City. The NewYork-Presbyterian /Weill Cornell Medical Center Kress Vision Program collaborates with community-based organizations to help identify and connect patients with available vision care resources, such as the New Life Community Health Center and the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, which serves Hispanic and Chinese immigrants and uninsured or underinsured individuals and families in Elmhurst, Queens, and Chinatown, respectively. The program also partners with social services agencies such as the African Services Committee, the Institute for Family Health, the Coalition for the Homeless and the Academy of Medical and Public Health Services.
“Our residents conduct vision screenings that take place in community centers, churches, and street fairs, where they examine patients for eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataract, and diabetic eye disease,” says Grace Sun, MD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of Ophthalmology Residency Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “These screenings can result in a simple reading glasses or specialty referrals for the medical and surgical treatment of various eye conditions to those who may otherwise not receive care.”
“Not only do these community-based initiatives provide another opportunity for residents to give back to community, they help broaden perspective,” says Royce W. S. Chen, MD, Helen and Martin Kimmel Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Residency Program Director at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Sometimes, residency can give trainees tunnel vision because there is so much work to do, so much reading to do, so much surgery and skills to practice. They are constantly wondering what is the next step to advance in their professional careers. Community outreach programs help all of us see our place in the bigger picture and give more context and meaning to life and our role in it.”
“Community outreach experiences are invaluable because they enable residents to help patients who need care right in their own communities,” says Dr. Sun. “Additionally, because many of these programs are held in conjunction with Weill Cornell Medical College, our residents serve as physician educators of clinical eye care and anatomy to medical students, and as educators of vision health to their patients.”
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