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URMC / Flaum Eye Institute / About Us / FEI News Blog / July 2023 / Flaum Eye Institute Enhancing Community Healthcare

Flaum Eye Institute Enhancing Community Healthcare

Improving access to care in underserved neighborhoods is a goal that many health organizations aspire to. When it comes to eyes, it is something that the University of Rochester Flaum Eye Institute and Goodwill Vision Enterprises take especially seriously.

The organizations are aiming to meet this goal through a joint effort. Through a recent alliance, they aim to expand low vision services available throughout the region while establishing a new clinic dedicated to providing access to the city’s most vulnerable, for whom getting high quality vision care can be a struggle.

The enterprise is located at 500 South Clinton Ave, in the heart of downtown Rochester, providing an outlet for those who live in Rochester’s “health care desert.” Since the February start of the collaboration, the location has seen more than 1000 patients. The location has three ophthalmologists and four optometrists, augmenting Goodwill’s former low vision operation while adding new services sorely needed by City residents.

The 5,300-square-foot facility has the necessary space to ensure quality care to patients. This includes six exam rooms, multiple diagnostic lanes, and an optical shop. On June 3rd, leading local organizations toured the space and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to the project.
Open house attendees

As a result of the collaboration, Flaum Eye Institute doctors have reduced previous delays from six to four weeks for patients seeking low vision care. Future goals include adding more staff to lower these wait times even more. The new full-service eye care clinic also includes urgent  eye care appointments for patients who need to be seen within 48 hours.

The addition of the location to the Flaum Eye network opens the doors to City of Rochester residents struggling to receive routine and specialized eye care closer to home. Situated on three major RTS bus lines, most Rochester residents can get to appointments without relying on a car. For those who do drive, there is abundant free parking

The aim for Flaum is to have quality eye care available to all community members, regardless of race or income. Data shows that conditions like glaucoma and cataracts are more likely to affect vulnerable populations. Without treatment, these conditions pose a serious threat to patients’ eyesight and quality of life.

At the center, doctors are able to see patients for a number of issues including regular eye exams, cataracts, pink eye, eye injuries, pediatrics, and other comprehensive services. In addition to the medical services available, there is a full-service optical shop with affordably priced eye wear suitable for all ages.

Patients can also receive help to establish insurance, and the location participates in the University of Rochester’s safety net program, which offers sliding scale fees for the uninsured and under insured. The collaboration extends the reach and social network of Flaum according to Dr. Christine Coward.

“It’s great to have relationships with so many organizations to help reach City residents as we try to make South Clinton one of the first places that people think of for eye care in the area,” Coward said. “With the range of services available, it can be a one stop access point for community members who need to receive care.”

In addition to being a hub for those who traditionally have not had access to comprehensive eye care, the effort between Flaum and Goodwill also focuses on providing services to those from throughout the region who suffer from low vision.

Someone suffering from low vision means that they have impaired vision that cannot be fixed through surgery, glasses or medication. Low vision can be caused by a range of conditions, which affect daily activities for things like reading, viewing a screen, or recognizing faces.

A patient is considered to have low vision if their best seeing eye is 20/200. Diseases that cause low vision are often irreversible and commonly include age related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and severe diabetic retinopathy.

To receive low vision care at the center, a patient is first identified through Goodwill Vision Enterprises (formerly Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired). A Flaum Eye Institute optometrist will then perform a specialized exam on the patient. Results are sent back to Goodwill to help their low vision rehabilitation specialists identify solutions and strategies best suited to each patient.

These might include things like adaptive technology to help with daily tasks or cane training for mobility. Both Flaum and Goodwill work with the doctor who originally referred the patient to coordinate care. This ensures that each patient maintains what vision they have while learning to better navigate through life.

Flaum Eye Institute optometrist Jennifer Krech, a low vision specialist who provided services at Goodwill prior to the collaboration–says the effort between the two organizations helps better serve the low vision patients. It accomplishes this through synergies related to each other’s core strengths in medicine and vision rehabilitation.

Low vision exam

“With both Flaum and Goodwill together, we can see more patients, bring more care to those who need low vision services, and help them maintain their independence, which is very meaningful,” Krech said.

Hours of operation at South Clinton Avenue are Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the optical shop open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Appointments for the low-vision clinic can be made by calling 585-232-1111, and appointments for the comprehensive eye care center can be made at 585-273-3937.


Zachary Laird | 7/14/2023

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