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News Details LMH News

2016 Blanche W. Grady Visual Clinic

Clinic Has Vision For Making A Difference

The Greeneville Sun, Jan. 18, 2016

About 100 Receive Eye Care Service


For many in Greene County, the cost of an eye exam or eyeglasses can be too much to bear.

But a number of those in need of eye care received help this Saturday through the Blanche W. Grady Visual Clinic. The free clinic has been held each year since 1999 and is made possible by the Blanche W. Grady Community Service Award, a fund created by the Scott M. Niswonger family.

The program is facilitated by the Laughlin Health Care Foundation at Laughlin Memorial Hospital. Drs. Brad Emde and Shelly Shaw of East View Eye Care served as co-chairs of the clinic, which was conducted in partnership with local eye care professionals, the Greene County Health Department, Remote Area Medical and community volunteers.

The clinic began at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Laughlin Memorial Hospital, but Betty Weemes, executive director of the Laughlin Health Care Foundation, said some people were lined up by 7:15 a.m.

"I think by 8 o'clock, we had completed exams or provided 18 people glasses," Weemes said.

The process of getting clinic attendees the care needed actually began several months ago. In October, those interested in receiving eye care through the clinic were asked to complete application forms. The program is available to those who qualify and meet the guidelines, which includes state income guidelines for health care services.

Around 50 of those qualified were assigned to local opthamologists and optometrists, who conducted exams from October through the end of December. The prescriptions were then sent to RAM, which prepared the lenses to match the prescriptions.

Weemes said this group attended Saturday's clinic to pick out frames for the already-prepared lenses.

The other half of the approximately 100 people qualifying did not have their eye exams performed prior to Saturday's clinic, as there was simply not enough eye care professionals in the area to accommodate the demand, Weemes said.

This led Weemes to get in contact with Chris Hall, chief operating officer of RAM. Hall advised he would attempt to get some eye care professionals to attend Saturday's clinic to perform examinations, a task he was able to accomplish.

Some clinic attendees received exams at the hospital, as others awaited the fitting of the lenses for the frames they had chosen. These lenses were ground and shaped in the RAM truck/lab parked just outside the hospital.

Hall said by 11:30 a.m., the clinic had served about 100 people in need of eye care. The clinic provided glasses for 88 individuals by its conclusion.

"There’s been steady stream of patients all morning," Weemes said Saturday.

Among the clinic's attendees was Pamela Dowless, who was overjoyed with her new glasses and the experience of receiving them as "awesome."

"It's a new world. I can see," Dowless said. "My boss is going to be so happy for me."

Laughlin Memorial Hospital File Photo Provided for Website Use

Also among those served by the clinic was Jeremy Brunner. Due to an eye disease and even with the new prescription, Brunner had difficulty. Still, he was excited to receive his new glasses.

"I can see so much better," he said.

Laughlin Memorial Hospital File Photo Provided for Website Use

Weemes also said there is a tremendous need for such a clinic in the community.

"I think this day is reflective of where we are, economically, with people not being able to afford glasses for the first time or new glasses," she said.

She added it is personally rewarding to see a service with which her organization is involved help so many Greene Countians.

"It's all the words you would say. It's rewarding; it's fulfilling,” she said. Weemes commented further, “All in all, it's more important to say — helping my organization and the others who are participating in this clinic make a difference in the community."

The local physicians who participated in the clinic were: Dr. Brad Emde, Dr. Shelly Shaw, Dr. Robert Helm, Dr. Nancy Norton, Dr. Allen Yandell, Dr. Raymond Lambert, Dr. Dale Grant, Dr. John Clement, Dr. Laura Urban, and Dr. Thomas Brown.