reflections THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
Making It Happen
shares a common vision with the rest of medicine.
M. GABLE, O.D., CHICAGO
I had a defining moment in my professional career that also touched my personal
life. I was traveling to Tegucigalpa, Honduras with the Fellowship of Christian
Optometrists student group from Indiana University to provide optometric services
to the less fortunate there. "What could Chicago's South side and Honduras have
in common?," I asked myself. While the backdrop differs considerably, we found that
the need is the same the poor and the underserved are unable to access and
afford proper medical care.
I have always considered myself sensitive to others' needs, the experience of treating
vision problems in a third-world country impressed upon me how basic it is to offer
care without remuneration. Directing the Illinois College of Optometry's Vision
of Hope (VOH) program would fulfill my dream of delivering vision services to Chicago's
Hope is on the way
The success of VOH was truly remarkable. More
than 2,000 patients from 17 social service agencies received vision care at the
Illinois Eye Institute over an 18-month period. Even more remarkable was this population's
demonstrated medical need. It was greater than simple vision care. Not only did
the clinical findings for these patients demonstrate substandard care for common
chronic medical conditions, but a significant portion of this population was considered
at risk with no access to appropriate medical care.
The solution is simple: Connect these
patients with healthcare providers who will perform the services they need. Research
shows that patients will seek care for visual problems without regard to underlying
medical disease. Therefore, as O.D.s, we must be poised to have our profession serve
as the entry into the healthcare system. After all, isn't effective healthcare a
We built upon VOH's initial mission of partnering
with social service agencies and created the Vision of Hope Health Alliance, a landmark
partnership between social service providers, optometrists and primary care physicians
to provide full medical care to indigent patients.
Some may ask if medical providers with
differing degrees and expertise can work together for the common good of patients,
but I had already experienced such teamwork.
This time, I found myself in the Philippines
with other medical professionals, including surgeons, pediatricians, dentists and
social workers. While the need was enormous, delivering care was simple. We shared
equipment, experience and expertise. But more importantly, we shared a vision
caring for those in need.
Thus I'm confident that the VOH Alliance
will succeed. We will set a new standard by increasing cooperation between community
agencies, eyecare providers and healthcare providers, thereby increasing quality
and effectiveness of care to underserved communities. I am very fortunate as an
optometrist to ignite a spark and bring change throughout the medical community.
For more information on the Vision
of Hope Health Alliance, please contact Dr. Gable at (312) 949-7000, or e-mail her
DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE
EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH RENé
LUTHE, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC
MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 643-8132 OR LUTHER@BOUCHER1.COM.
OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.
Optometric Management, Issue: October 2005