New York, NY (August 22, 2007) -- New York and Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE), a member of the Continuum Health Partners hospital network, has received a $145,000 contract for a three-year period from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide Quality Assurance and Training of the Bureau’s 17 Vision Screening Teams who will go out into elementary schools in the Fall, screening some 170,000 city schoolchildren for potential eye problems.
The project director is pediatric ophthalmologist H. Jay Wisnicki, MD, Director of The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary Department of Ophthalmology at Beth Israel Medical Center and a senior clinical leader at both institutions with experience in teaching, research, and administration. He worked with “Prevent Blindness America” on its vision task force for children and “I See You” vision screening program, as well as the NYC Summer School Program and back-to-school vision screening.
Dr. Wisnicki says of this new program, “We are delighted to work with the Department of Health in this citywide initiative in the detection of eye problems in children at an early age. If left untreated, vision problems can lead to permanent eye damage, poor performance in school and a low desire to learn. Hopefully, we will be able to prevent all of this from happening, by sending out our vision screening teams who will be trained to diagnose eye problems and then treat them accordingly.”
Another key staff member is Gina Cardone, OD, who is in charge of the visits to the schools. The activities include site visits to working screening teams, classroom instructions, and individual consultation.
With more than 140,000 patient visits a year, The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary is the largest and most experienced provider of primary through tertiary eye care in the entire metropolitan area. As part of this New York City school program, eye care professionals including ophthalmologists and optometrists will help vision screeners obtain most accurate results in screening children for eye problems. These may include visual acuity and refractive errors (need for eyeglasses), color vision problems, amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (eye muscle problems or misalignments such as crossed or wall eyes). It is especially important to screen early since eye problems like amblyopia or lazy eye are best corrected as early as possible, before a critical age, after which successful treatment is much more difficult.
For children who do not pass screenings, assistance will also be given to improve follow-up—i.e., ensuring that parents/guardians receive the information, schedule a visit with a eye care professional, and where necessary, review unclear forms with a provider to determine which follow-up procedures are expected to result in the best outcome for the child. Working with School Bureau of Health staff, ophthalmologists and optometrists will assist with difficult cases as needed.
For more information about this program, please contact Michelle Pipia-Stiles in the public affairs department for Beth Israel at (212) 523-4044 or Jean Thomas for New York Eye and Ear Infirmary’s External Affairs office at (212) 979-4274.
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