Cassandra Rotolo 2016-04-19 05:24:15
Help and Hope are Just a Phone Call Away Will Jackson was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with glaucoma. He came to terms with his poor vision, and for more than 30 years he has lived a relatively ordinary life. He has two sons and a fiancé, loves to cook and has mastered using public transportation to travel around Baltimore. But recently, Jackson found it increasingly difficult to do everyday activities such as reading the newspaper, reviewing bills and writing checks. When his ophthalmologist recommended he seek low-vision rehabilitation services at the Lions Vision Center within the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore, Jackson didn’t think there would be much they could do for him. He had adapted to living with glaucoma so well that he had never sought assistance outside of his eye doctor. Nevertheless, he made an appointment to see a low-vision specialist. A few days later, Jackson received a phone call from Past District Governor Ken Chew. He called on behalf of the Low Vision Rehabilitation Network (LOVRNET), an initiative of the Lions of Multiple District (MD) 22 and a partner of the Lions Vision Center. Lions LOVRNET is a model for a new community-based healthcare program to address the current shortage of low-vision rehabilitation services in Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The program creates a single referral resource for both eye care providers and patients and coordinates care by matching patients to appropriate trained service providers in their area. The phone screening interview with Chew took about an hour. Jackson learned about tasks that he could get help with and tools that were available to him. Special cameras, magnifying glasses and even a talking watch could help him remain self-sufficient. With the help of adaptive tools from the Lions Vision Center, Jackson hopes to one day be able to watch a football game. “The experience has been personal. I get to talk to people and laugh with them,” he explains. “It’s more than just filling out forms at a doctor’s office. I feel like a person, not a number.” The Lions Vision Center at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute provides important rehabilitation services to people who are blind or visually impaired throughout the greater Baltimore area. The Lions of MD 22 received a US$567,647 SightFirst grant to establish the Lions LOVRNET. In addition to developing a single referral resource, Lions LOVRNET also trains and supports local optometrists, ophthalmologists and other eye care providers so they can offer high quality and effective low-vision rehabilitation services as part of their practices. The LOVRNET project was inspired by a previous collaboration between MD 22 and Johns Hopkins to develop a public education program on low vision and blindness. That effort, supported by an LCIF US$200,000 Core 4 grant, mobilized local Lions to educate the community on eye health and low-vision rehabilitation. The unexpected value for Lions, according to Chew, is connecting to people on the other end of the line. “I have been a Lion for almost 25 years. My club is great at raising money and writing checks—and that’s important. But connecting with people is important, too,” says Chew. “Seeing a patient’s journey is a reminder of the impact we’re having. We have the potential to do a lot of good.” Jackson’s eyesight may be impaired, but his vision of living a selfreliant life is thriving. With Lions and LCIF on his side, his future is bright. To find out how your district or multiple district can help address the need for low-vision services in your area, visit lcif.org. To learn more about Lions LOVRNET, visit lovrnet.org.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Visionary+Work/2423376/293797/article.html.