LOS ANGELES—The CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center’s Southern California Eyecare and Vision Research Institute, under the direction of world renowned eye care specialist Dr. Rohit Varma, aims to provide specialized and comprehensive eye care to vulnerable populations in Southern California.
Using state-of-the-art therapies and techniques, the program strives to both study and assist under-diagnosed and under-treated individuals with visual impairment in diverse communities. Through the institute, Dr. Varma, has launched the Vision Van, which makes vision care to the targeted communities more accessible.
CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center is a neighborhood partner with Asbarez, which caught up with Dr. Varma, who discussed the Vision Van and other projects in an email interview.
Asbarez: What inspired CHA SCEI’s use of mobile eye care?
Dr. Rohit Varma: The Vison Van provides a unique public service to the communities of L.A. and surrounding counties by providing access to vision screening and care, and by helping increase awareness of the importance of eye health and the causes of preventable vision loss.
The Vison Van brings the expertise of SCEI ophthalmologists/specialists to people who are unable to obtain vision care due to financial hardships, transportation or lack of insurance for screening.
By providing greater access to eye care, the SCEI Vision Van will reduce the burden of eye disease and vision loss across L.A. and surrounding counties.
Asbarez: How will patients in need of eye care come into contact with SCEI?
R.V: SCEI will bring the Vision Van to Health Fairs and community-based events. With the help of the media, mailing flyers, and website announcements, we hope to spread the news and invite surrounding residents to attend these events and receive a screening examination. If communities want to have the vision van come to their centers, they should contact Mina Torres via email.
Asbarez: How many doctors and staff members will one van typically hold? How many individuals will be involved in SCEI’s day-to-day operations?
R.V.: Typically, the VAN will have 1 – 3 ophthalmologists, 2 – 3 ophthalmic technicians and 1 – 3 support staff members.
Asbarez: To what communities will SCEI travel to and how from where the hospital is located?
R.V.: The SCEI Vision Van can travel across all Los Angeles county and surrounding Southern California communities.
Asbarez: How many patients do you plan to see daily?
R.V.: The SCEI Vision Van is currently only participating at community events. The Vision Van can provide screening to over 100/day individuals at any given community event.
Asbarez: Is there an end goal for SCEI? As this project grows, are there plans for more than one van for SCEI?
R.V.: Yes, we hope to add additional vans as we grow.
Asbarez: What were the most difficult obstacles to overcome throughout this project?
R.V.: Gaining the trust of communities so that people can come and get exams and learn about their vision health.
Asbarez: Will there be volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in the program?
R.V.: There is always opportunity for individuals to volunteer especially in large Health Fairs. Most of the staff members who help with registration and coordination in health fairs volunteer their time.