LORAIN — Diabetes is the No. 1 diagnosis of patients seen by doctors at facilities such as the recently opened Lorain County Health & Dentistry Center in Lorain.
“Good diabetic care involves regular eye care to prevent loss of sight,” according to Stephanie Wiersma, president and CEO of the health care center focused on helping those who need low-cost healthcare services the most.
This is why the center in the former Gel-Pak building now has a vision clinic providing exams, eyeglasses and other services to adults and children.
Open for about three weeks, the 1,100-square-foot clinic is seeing a gradually increasing number of patients, Wiersma said.
“In fairness, we started off with lighter schedules because this is a new service that we didn’t have a lot of experience with,” Wiersma said Friday. “We’re pleased with the interest to date. Patients are telling us this provides convenience in access to eye exams, and other services they might not otherwise have due to cost or lack of access.”
Three years in the planning, the vision clinic was made possible through a major collaboration between Lorain County Health & Dentistry and 50-odd Lions Clubs in north central Ohio that saw $257,000 raised to buy state-of-the-art optometric and diagnostic equipment.
The amount included $90,000 from Lions Clubs fundraisers and donations, a $75,000 grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation, a $50,000 Nord Family Foundation grant and $43,450 from the Community Foundation of Lorain County.
Local chapters of Lions International have long championed campaigns to provide recycled eyeglasses to those in need, aiding people with visual impairments, and preventing blindness since Helen Keller challenged the organization to become “Knights of the Blind” at a 1925 Lions convention at Cedar Point.
“That’s why the Lions wanted to be part of a solution for the needs of a lot of people in our area who do not have access to vision care,” said Kenneth Cromer, chairman of the Lorain Lions Vision Committee.
It is estimated that the vision clinic will handle about 2,500 patient visits in its first year, and exceed 3,000 visits by the second, according to estimates from the center.
A significant number of those expected to benefit from the vision clinic by receiving glasses, exams and treatment are children attending Lorain Schools, Cromer said.
The center’s services are available to anyone living in or out of Lorain County.
Despite the good the new clinic will do, Cromer admitted “there is a greater need for help by more people than the Lions Clubs are able to provide.”
Lorain County Health & Dentistry and the vision clinic accept Medicaid, Medicaid Managed Care, Medicare, and most private insurance, but also serves those who are uninsured regardless of ability to pay.
The vision clinic will operate on the same hours as the health clinic, being open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
For more information call (440) 240-1655.