Member Spotlight: Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Ozarks

Posted by Wendy Jackson on Feb 20, 2015

Company Name : Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Ozarks
President : Wendy Jackson
Years In Business : 4 years


Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Ozarks supports the needs to those in southwest Missouri experiencing vision loss by providing quality care and specialized services to people of all ages regardless of their ability to pay. We are the only clinic in a 200 mile radius providing low vision, vision rehabilitation and vision services to children ages 0-3.

Sight is a precious gift that most of us take for granted, until we try to imagine life without it. For those with vision impairments, it is a reality that can affect independence and dignity, especially when there are a lack of specialized services and treatment to help patients deal with this traumatic life change. Low Vision is a partial loss of sight. It is often a loss of visual acuity or sharpness, but may be a loss of side vision or extreme difficulty with light or glare. Low vision exists when these conditions cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery and interferes with normal activities of daily living. Low vision services do not cure the cause of low vision, nor do they replace the need for other concurrent treatments such as surgery or medical care, although they do maximize remaining vision. The concept of a community based Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Ozarks was developed by several members of the physician staff of Mercy Eye Specialists of Springfield, Missouri. Dr. Don Beisner, a long time practicing ophthalmologist in the Springfield area, saw the need for this organization. He and his wife Judy purchased the Beisner Clinic located at 1661 West Elfindale. The Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Ozarks was established with additional funding commitments from private donations and the Mercy Eye Specialists. Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Ozarks (VRCO) opened its doors in the fall of 2010.

This innovative approach to delivery of care to visually impaired individuals provides a level of service that is currently unavailable in our region of the state. It will improve the health and quality of life to all its clients.

 

In fall of 2009, the Executive Director of Abilities First (Greene County Board for Developmental Disabilities) approached Drury University to determine the extent to which Dr. Chris Craig, Director of the School of Education and Child Development could work with area professionals to establish the first center based program in Springfield to address the needs of infants and toddlers with visual impairment or blindness. Dr. Craig established the state’s only program to prepare teachers for work with children and youth with visual impairments and established the Blindness Skills Program at Missouri State University. In year one of the project, Drury received a grant for $25,000 to lay the groundwork for the Drury University Children’s Vision Center, a program that would provide developmental assessment for infants and toddlers, along with direct therapy and services for these children and their families. A total of 15 families were identified through referrals from First Steps and local eye care providers. Initially, a part-time coordinator was hired and services were delivered on the third floor of Lay Hall at the Drury University Campus. In 2011, the Drury University Children’s Vision Center moved its operations and services into the Beisner Vision Center, which was much more accessible to families. Initially, Drury University Children’s Vision Center contracted with Children’s Center for Vision Impairments to provide vision services until VRCO was credentialed as a First Steps provider. In January 2012 VRCO became a credentialed First Steps provider. The purpose of VRCO is to provide children with visual impairments age’s birth to three and their families with the initial supports to have a positive impact on development during the early childhood years. Some of the supports provided by the VRCO include:

• A home visit to collect information about the child and their family
• A Functional Vision Assessment to measure how the child uses their vision and what visual skills the child needs to develop further
• Monthly monitoring sessions with a Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired
• Consultation provided to parents and other care providers
• Resources on the community, state, and national levels that are available to children and families
• Comprehensive clinical evaluation by an optometrist trained in low vision gets patients off to the right start.
• Treatment strategies that care for patients with a variety of visual needs from early childhood through adulthood. 
• Specially-designed training facilities and experienced personnel help patients adjust to their vision loss in a comforting and safe environment. 
• Emphasis on independent living skills, including teaching patients how to use aids for the visually impaired, and specially-designed programs for mobility training help patients gain independence faster. 
• A wide range of social services help patients find vital assistance programs 

We partnered with Mercy Eye Specialists to provide rehabilitation services to patients that undergo the Telescopic Implant surgery. This telescope improves vision for people with Age Related Macular Degeneration. Without our rehabilitation services this surgery would not be possible here in the Ozarks.  VRCO has grown 30% each month. We look to continue that growth as we expand services to include day care for children with vision impairments and Brainport training for children who are blind. We hope to fund this through our Dining in the Dark fundraiser.

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