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In November 2018, the Missouri State University Office of Citizenship & Service-Learning (CASL) used multiple Spot Vision Screeners to help screen homeless and at-risk individuals for vision problems during the annual Hope Connection event in Springfield, Missouri. This year, CASL screened 258 members of the homeless and impoverished community.
If screening results suggested an eye exam was needed, Jordan Valley Medical Clinic had doctors on hand to write corrective lens prescriptions. Of the 258 members screened, 134 received prescriptions for follow-up treatment.
Nursing students from Missouri State University operated the Spot Vision Screeners to detect vision disabilities in homeless veterans. They worked closely with everyone to provide the best of care. CASL graduate assistant, Lucy Beeler, commented that CASL services were in high demand.
“The line for our screenings was so long,” she said. “We had service-learning students filling out intake forms with the individuals, nursing students who would screen the individuals, and then social workers who talked with each individual about their results. If the social worker thought an individual needed an eye exam, the individual would get a bracelet with a number. The doctors would call out their number whenever it was their turn and they would go and get their exam.”
After the screenings, students like Cecilia Rich were available to help fit patients for glasses once they received a prescription.
“I was able to help each individual choose a frame that matched the medical need with their prescription as well as making them look great! I loved being able to help each person choose a frame, put a smile on their face and make them laugh during the time I had with them.”
Coordinated by Community Partnership of the Ozarks, Hope Connection occurs in Springfield’s Expo Center, a large open floor space that is taken over by direct-service vendors every year in November. A variety of organizations and businesses offer services ranging from career placement to haircuts.
The Citizenship & Service-Learning team was proud to be there for another year, offering free vision screenings to a large number of clients—all made possible by the Spot Vision Screener. It would be a mountainous effort to try and meet the same volume of clients without Spot Vision Screener.
In the fall of 2017, CASL reached a milestone of 10,000 vision screenings in a single semester using Spot Vision Screener. In the fall of 2018, CASL estimates reaching 14,000 screenings in a single semester with their growing program.
Citizenship & Service-Learning is already preparing for the next Hope Connection event. Current plans include using multiple Spot Vision Screeners and service-learning students as case managers. The goal is to efficiently meet clients on a one-on-one basis.
Service-learners like Cecilia are reminders that the event benefits a variety of individuals. This includes students looking for meaningful career experiences, “This experience reminded me why I am pursuing my career in optometry. It’s the personal connection you are able to make with a person, educating them and making a difference in their life.”