Eye Exams as a Partnership by Stephanie Haddad

Health Center #5 is unique from other Philadelphia Department of Public Health clinics  in the fact that it provides eye exams to their patients. For the past three years, Health Center #5 has partnered with Temple Ophthalmology to provide free eye screenings. Every fourth Thursday of the month, Dr. Jeffrey D. Henderer and a group of students from Temple University come to the health center and administer eye exams all day long. As many of the patients that come to the health center are uninsured or do not have eye insurance coverage, the partnership between Temple Ophthalmology and Health Center #5 allows many patients to receive eye care that they otherwise would not have access to. After a patient visits with Dr. Henderer and his students, if they need glasses and cannot afford them, they are referred to me in the Prescription Assistance Program Office.

When a patient is sent to my office at the health center, it is my job to help them apply for a free pair of glasses through the non-profit organization, New Eyes For the Needy. If patients qualify for the program, they are able to choose from an array of frames. After I meet with the patient, complete the application, and order the glasses, the patient will receive their glasses in the mail within one to two weeks. Many of the patients that I work with have been living their lives without the proper vision correction to make daily tasks easier. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare cornea condition called keratoconus. Luckily they caught my condition early due to my yearly eye exams that are covered by insurance; however, not everyone is so lucky. From my personal experience, I understand how important and incredible it is that Health Center #5 partners with Temple Ophthalmology to provide eye exams to their patients. This partnership provides patients with an accessible way to receive a prescription for eye glasses and screen for any vision threatening eye diseases and conditions. Whenever I work with a patient to receive free glasses they are always appreciative of Dr. Henderer, his student, the health center, and myself. Now more than ever, we need to come together as a community to provide the healthcare services that everyone deserves to live a healthy and happy life.