SUNY Optometry and Community Healthcare Network Unveil Eye Mobile
SUNY College of Optometry and Community Healthcare Network (CHN) unveiled Eye Mobile, a mobile health unit, during a ribbon cutting ceremony at CHN’s Washington Heights health center on April 16. The partnership will expand access to eye and vision care for more than 5,000 New Yorkers in low-income and underserved communities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx each year.
Eye disease and visual impairment are among the top 10 causes of disability in New York State, according to Dr. Sachin Jain, CHN’s acting chief medical officer. Additionally, 23 percent of individuals 40 years or older in New York State say they do not receive vision care due to the high cost or lack of insurance.
“Each year CHN made more than 5,000 referrals to optometry services. Half of those referrals never turned into appointments,” said CHN president and chief executive officer Robert M. Hayes. “It is critical that we provide them with access to the care they need and deserve in the community.”
The Eye Mobile van includes two fully-equipped exam rooms for dilated retinal exams, eye condition diagnoses, management of long-term conditions and the prescription of corrective lenses. It will rotate between CHN health centers and will be available for all community members to book appointments.
“About four years ago, CHN senior leaders and I met to discuss the possibility of adding eye care at their sites, which ultimately led to a realization that an optometry mobile van could serve all the CHN facilities,” said Dr. Richard Soden, director of health care development at SUNY Optometry. “What was a concept a few years ago became reality with the help of many dedicated individuals along with support from state legislators.”
Funding for Eye Mobile came from Assemblymember Victor Pichardo, Assemblymember Vivian Cook, Assemblymember Diana Richardson and the late Assemblymember Denny Farrell.