Clinic Blog: 2011 Richmond Clinic Blog
October 20, 2011
On Monday, I met Gabriel and Esme at the color blindness testing station, both of whom had at least 20/100. Esme likes drawing and wants the world to be “peaceful”. Even though she thought the tonometer felt weird, Esme felt that the stereopsis test was the most fun of all the stations because it was “like a cartoon”. When Dr. Mark used the ophthalmoscope on her to see the back of the eye, Esme felt that was “creepy” the way he could see inside her head. Sitting with Dr. Carol at the Phoropter, she liked putting on the big pair of glasses, but thought the letters seemed “kind of fuzzy”. She said “I don’t want glasses” because they seem weird. I explained to her how important my glasses were to me when I was her age and how they will help her with school.
Gabriel likes to play video games and soccer. His friends think he is funny and he wants to be a pilot when he grows up. He said he has a Jack Russell terrier named Cornelius who “loves to eat”. He said he can’t see well with his right eye. Stereopsis was great and the most fun. He was “like whoa” with the puffer machine and he says to tell other kids to “look out for the eye drops because they sting”.
Gabriel had lots of questions. When told that the ophthalmoscope could see the blood vessels and nerves in the back of the eye, he wanted to know “is it kind of squishy?” Dr. Mark said it was kind of like jello. He peppered Dr. Damon with questions like “How many lenses do you have?” and “How do you switch the slide” on the Phoropter machine and “What are the red/green colors for?” Dr. Damon told him that he needed to wear his glasses all the time.
While sitting with Gabriel, Esme and the doctors, I couldn’t believe how ecstatic I felt when the students could correctly read the bottom line. Esme said she understood that glasses would help her to see and she realized how important that was when she was with Dr. Carol.
On Tuesday, I started out in Visual Acuity, the first station. In addition to performing the eye exams, this afforded me a chance to immediately identify some students that I could interview.
DeVonte is in the 10th grade and has worn glasses since the 1st grade, however, they were broken last year. Of the dilation drops, DeVonte said they hurt more than it usually does and thought that maybe they numb you more at the “other” eye doctor’s. He said that one of our doctors noted that his left eye was damaged. He complimented us by saying everything here was nice and organized and there weren’t any kids running around.
Ronika said of the tonometer, “it can’t be scaring people like that!”
Arlette was a Spanish student who spoke very little English. I worked with her in visual acuity and, because of the language barrier, I was able to get a feel for what an International mission must experience. Daryn, a friend of Arlette’s, “liked the puffer” machine.
Asia pointed out that “I have to do like this to look at my papers at school” and she holds a piece of paper really close to her eyes. The “puffer” station was her favorite station – she thought it was fun. Her mother forgot Asia would be here today so when she comes home with new glasses, her Mom will be shocked. When asked how she felt about new glasses, she said “This will help because I won’t have to struggle with my eyes.”
Chad dropped his glasses and a little boy picked them up, ran off with them and broke them. He’s been having trouble with school ever since. He said frame selection was awesome because he got to choose what he wanted and he didn’t expect that.
Jaquin is a 5th grader who has never had glasses before. After frame selection, he mentioned that he was “excited about getting glasses”. When I asked why, he said so he didn’t have to walk up to the front of the class to see the board and get yelled at by his teacher for moving out of his seat. Jaquin said of the OneSight program “it’s a good thing that we’re helping because many students can’t see”.
On Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting 8th graders, Kayla, Lakima and Jasmine and they all told me that they had problems seeing in school. Lakima said that her favorite station was the auto refractor and said she has to “squint my eyes real hard” in order to see the board at school. Her prescription was -350 OD and -400 OS. Jasmine liked the stereopsis test and said that she tries to get close to the board and still can’t see. She had glasses before but “they weren’t strong enough”.
I saw 13 year old Daqwan when he came to my auto refractor line and scored a -16 OD and -19 OS and thought he would make a good subject to interview. Turns out, Darla and Leslie already knew Daqwan personally. Leslie has provided him with a few pairs of glasses over the past 3 years at previous clinics. It was nice that they could make these glasses here with EyeVan and give them to him tomorrow, as opposed to taking a long time to get shipped back. They were both genuinely pleased to see him and to find out how he was doing. Leslie and Darla cared about Daqwan, similar to the way a primary care doctor would be concerned about a patient.
I would like to give kudos to the core team and volunteers. Everyone picks up on their stations so quickly and interacts extremely well with the children. The team as a whole was keeping the pace upbeat and interesting for the kids. Plus, a lot of you seem to have degrees in child psychology because of the way you "keep the peace" regardless of whether the children are nervous, scared, or very excited.
October 19, 2011
Tonight we were treated to dinner and bowling at the AMF Sunset Lanes.
Watching him bowl cracked me up, so Matt St. Germain, I dub thee “weeble wobble”. It was his first time playing in 20 years and he beat all of us in the first game with a 165. Allison Kiser was the best female bowler first game with a 138! Also, Ashley proved a woman could recently have a baby and then beat Greg Hare at bowling!
I'm proud to say my roomie, Michele Yanchar, beat Matt in the next round.
As expected, some of us (me included) had trouble keeping the ball out the gutter. It was all good, though!
Excerpts from bowling:
Dr. Carol’s comment after the game "I lost . . . even Sonya beat me!" Ouch!
Michele - “Why can't 9 be a strike?”
Kim - “Why can't bowling be more like poker!”
Dr. Damon - "the boys are coming back". I never did find out if they really came back from behind or what!
Dr. Carol - "The game ain’t ovah sista!"
Colleen - "I have no clue how I did that" got a strike. Woohoo!
After getting a strike, Dr. Carol, who hasn’t played since high school, commented "I have never done that in my entire life". Cross that off your bucket list, girlfriend!
How this came up I have no idea but roomies Sarkis and Doug bet if Sarkis could roll a ball and reach 30 mph, Doug would give Sarkis a foot rub in full view of the team. We’re still waiting, Sarkis!!
Award goes to Sarkis for the best Matt St. Germain impersonation emulating a Boston accent when stating "pick up a spare".
This blogger (Tina McGee) broke 100 and found out that Greg Hare cheats at rock paper scissors!
It was nice to have a break from our busy lives to just kick back and do something totally fun. We get caught up in our careers and home life and may not take the necessary time to relax. I love how we come together as a group from various brands, with different careers and diverse experiences, and gel into a team. It’s a refreshing feeling.
After bowling, we met at the parlor room for our silent and live auctions. This was the first silent auction that I had ever participated in and I was trying to learn as much as I could from the experienced attendees. At the CSC, I asked a lot of people who had been on previous missions to give me suggestions on what items would be sold at the auctions. Everyone was scoping the goods which ranged from SpongeBob figurines to artwork, from shirts to diamond jewelry, from a ceramic bathtub figurine to kamikaze cat and mouse bookends. Wine and goodies from Hawaii, Canada and Virginia were also on display.
The silent auction was interesting as people would put down bids, move on to another item and then return to find that someone had outbid them on the first item. Towards the end there was a lot of hovering as people congregated on the most interesting items. Bids were being written down extremely fast as the countdown towards zero grew closer. In some cases, the last bid was just a scrawl (sounds like someone we know, Dr. Mark!) because we were writing so fast. There was lots of laughter in the room during the process.
The auction gave me a chance to look at our employees in a new light and to become even more impressed. Not only were these people volunteering their time knowing that they would return to a lot of work at their offices. Not only were they giving up a week of family time. But these same employees were donating their own money to the OneSight cause.
The live auction was a blast. Jessica and her demonstration of the “Virginia is for lovers” care package was a hoot. There was a “spaaarkling” diamond bracelet donated by Adrienne Ruebusch and auctioned by Matt St. Germain that was purchased by Dr. Carol and two OneSight bracelets made by Dr. Carol. It was wonderful and very appropriate to see those bracelets go to Darla and Leslie (aka Darla 2) who I know will treasure it forever. It shocked me to see the picture frame and mat that I purchased get chosen for the live auction table. I made sure that every member of the core team signed it and I was lucky enough to get an extra signature, that of outgoing Executive Director, Greg Hare. I’d like to believe that Greg’s signature increased the worth of this simple gift, which will grace the walls of Barbara Elledge’s office. Bravo to Kim Trentham and Cathy Verdin, the fundraising team, for a very successful auction. The auction raised $2,000 for OneSight! Good job, Team Richmond, you rock!!
At the end of the night, we found out that Michele won $7 in the Mega Million Powerball. She was pretty impressed since they don’t have lotteries in Hawaii. Atlantic City . . . here we come!
October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18th , 2011
It’s been a great 2nd day here in sunny Richmond. The temperature is a beautiful 80 degrees and the team has been working hard. It seems yesterday can be considered just a “trial run” when compared to the hustle and bustle of today!
First, I’d like to say another big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our wonderful, talented, Photography Captain, Randall Joy, aka Russell. Since I printed his name incorrectly yesterday, I blame it on the “migraines”, lol!
We started the day on the bus with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to Randall and a great OneSight cheer from Danielle, Matt, and Michele (try contorting your body into the letter “G” first thing in the morning!)
I was in Visual Acuity, which was familiar to me because of the many Cycle of Sight schools I have volunteered or captained in Cincinnati. Cycle of Sight is where Luxottica employees descend upon Cincinnati area schoolchildren at their respective schools and perform vision screening. However, I’ve learned that there are differences between what we do at Cycle of Sight and what is done at an actual clinic. The primary difference is that there are doctors’ onsite at a clinic, so we do not need to do a second screening on another day. In addition, here we check down to the 20/20 level, whereas during vision screening we stop at 20/32.
Dr. Carol said you sometimes have to determine if a child is not being truthful about whether or not they can see. Case in point was a girl that I identified in Visual Acuity as having 20/100 vision. The auto refractor didn’t match my “diagnosis” and so Dr. Carol initially wondered if she really needed glasses. She took the time to check the girl again using the trial lenses in a variety of different settings and discovered that she did need her vision corrected. This reminded me of how caring the doctors are and how, regardless of how busy they are, they treat each student as if he or she is their only patient for the day.
Dr. Carol also noted that there was only one student that she didn’t prescribe for, which shows there were a high percentage of students who needed glasses. She also met a student that was in high school who did not pass his vision test for driving.
Dr. Melanie said that the children were very appreciative and very sweet. One little boy acknowledged “I have some baaad eye problems”. As a doctor, she has been on 13 International missions, 4 Domestic missions, Indian Reservations and several Vision Vans. She explained that doctors actually ride on the vans and travel to inner city areas.
The doctors referred a student who had amblyopia and one who needed visual therapy. Visual therapy can occur in one of two scenarios. First, a person can have a wandering eye or a weak muscle and different exercises are prescribed to strengthen the eye muscles. Second, a person can have a much higher prescription in one eye than the other. The eye with the lower prescription can become “lazy”. Using therapy or an eye patch, one of the eyes can be forced to work harder. In addition, they discovered one student who was a “minus 14 with a 2 cylinder” and they decided that her siblings needed to come in on another day in case there was a family history of eye problems.
Cathy Verdin said about working in frame selection that she “noticed a lot of smiles” after they have narrowed down the selection to find the right one. Andrea Troxell mentioned that allowing them to choose “makes it less scary to get glasses”. Both of them used their customer service skills and, in some cases, a little bit of psychology to help the students make a good frame choice.
Randall worked on the auto refraction machine. He said all the kids were afraid that the machine was going to be a hard one like the “puffer machine”. However, he told them “I get to be the nice guy today” and perform an easy test. The kids also sang Happy Birthday to Randall, one of many birthday wishes he received!!
Randall also worked on tracing later in the day. He said that was “very cool and detail oriented”. He noted that on the Sunglass side, he doesn’t get to see the optical portion as much. This experience makes a person well-rounded in their job. Mission is a great opportunity to see the entire process from start to finish.
During our debriefing, Maggie mentioned that one of the girls chose a blue frame on Monday. When they went to her school on Tuesday, she was so excited that she jumped up and down. According to Maggie she was “Totally stoked”. She even wore shoes “that had a tiny bit of blue in them” to match her glasses.
Our clinic has been running like a “smooth wheel” according to Darla. The veterans and newbies work well together and we flow from station to station without a problem. I think a lot of it has to do with the “arrive as a team, leave as a team” mentality that was instilled in us during our orientation.
An observation I made is that Darla All flits from station to station, like a ship’s captain. She checks on volunteers and employees, doctors and kids’, making sure OneSight’s Richmond operation is in good shape. I can see why Scott Lawrence stated at orientation that we were in capable hands!
Back on the “Tuna bus” we had another rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to Randall.
October 17, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
This morning started with breakfast at the hotel and everyone seemed excited and raring to go. After the short bus trip to the Arthur Ashe Convention Center with our infamous bus driver “Mr. Tuna”, Darla led us on a tour of the various optical stations in the gymnasium.
After training at our individual stations, we had a few minutes to converse and continue getting to know each other. All the different brands talked about various occurrences within their respective fields. The optical people at our brands know their business!! Since I consider myself a sheltered I.T. person at the CSC, it was refreshing to hear different buzzwords and learn what they meant.
Thanks to the Cycle of Sight and Hometown Days programs for helping train the Luxottica employees so that we could successfully conduct eye exams, stereopsis and color blindness testing.
A HUGE thanks to the supporters that came out today and to the ones who donated food and water. In some cases, volunteers gave one of their personal days to come out and assist. We met lots of wonderful people who called Richmond home.
Some comments from today:
Bob Fruth, promoter with Body By Vi, first time volunteer, expressed to me how rewarding it is to be helping the community. I heard that sentiment echoed a few times today.
Renee, U.S. Program Director, Children Incorporated, also a first time volunteer said that her first impression was how enthusiastic the volunteers were and how everyone was totally behind the project. “You could feel the energy in the room.” Children Incorporated is a non-profit organization that partnered with OneSight on this endeavor. They assist children in the U.S. and abroad with basic and education related needs. She was also impressed at how well behaved the kids were and how smoothly everything was progressing. She noticed that the kids were intrigued with each station as they were visiting them.
Kathy, CFO, Children Incorporated noted “It’s a different experience from working on spreadsheets all day.” She was impressed about how well organized everything was.
A few of us began to realize that our jobs ran deeper than just giving eye exams. We discovered a lot of students that needed help at the color blindness testing station. In order to successfully perform our jobs, we had to determine whether the students were color blind or whether they did not know their numbers or whether they just couldn’t see the numbers behind the dots at all. We are doing something more than helping the world to see. We are making a difference in the lives of children and, in some cases, tremendously impacting their futures. Bob Fruth discovered a child who seemed to be dyslexic and informed the nurse that was with him who asked the child’s mother to get him tested.
Sarkis, has participated in Ride for Sight, Eye Run and Hometown Days. I was amazed at how many different programs OneSight is involved in. He said the experience was “very humbling and eye-opening”. One thing he noticed is that he would have thought all kids in this day and age would know about 3-D technology. When working at the stereopsis station, he found children that didn’t understand about the 3-D pictures.
Justin and Terri Echague are both Optometrists who recently opened a practice in Virginia Beach. They drove up here to volunteer for the day with their 20 month old son Ethan. Terri, originally from Jamaica, thought this was a great opportunity to serve the community. Even though she has participated in other programs overseas, she and her husband wanted to get involved with something locally with OneSight.
Jen, SGH, has volunteered for 3 years and has been on a previous mission to Fishkill, NY. They had the Eyeleen van and it twice visited each of 5 different camps. She describes it as an “awesome experience . . . It was really cool to interact with different kids and to help them is amazing”. Jen views it as her chance to give back and describes it as “heartwarming to see these kids light up” when they received their glasses.
James, volunteer, Richmond SGH, said that he likes serving his community, his customers and his future customers.
Allison, who after 12 International missions was participating in her first Regional mission, said that the flow and stations are different than the International missions. She said the best part of being on a Regional mission is there is not a language barrier, so communication is easier since you don’t have to go through an interpreter. It was nice to really communicate with the kids. She advises mission newbies to “keep your heart open for new experiences” . . . you’ll find them.
Jen Ortiz, SGH, volunteer, said of her experience in visual acuity that the kids think it isn’t okay to miss a letter or two. She lets them know it isn’t a test, that it’s okay and that we are here to help them.
Frederick, SGH, volunteer, said of his first experience, “It is heart touching and breaks your heart. Some kids make up letters to get it right”.
Jessica, Planning Coordinator for Richmond, has been on 3 missions – 2 regional, 1 global. They start planning for Richmond in January. She gives a lot of kudos to the volunteers. I thought that was interesting because the volunteers are giving kudos back to the Richmond Planning Team for its organization. So pats on the back all the way around!! The art project makes it more fun for the kids.
Russell, our Photography Captain, has assisted on a couple of vision vans.
Tara from the EyeVan, said “that it is most rewarding to get to see the really hard prescriptions” while making lenses in the van. She was impressed that the kind of technology needed to produce these types of prescriptions are available on a mobile van.
In response to the question “What do you see”, one of the kids stated the obvious “I see dots”! Duh, Big Red Truck, Tina!
A few people noted that one child, Brianna, had major vision issues and had been having difficulty in class. Brianna said of herself “One thing I can’t do is see”. She also had issues at the color blindness testing station.
Once everything is turned off in EyeVan and everything is locked, we were ready for Darla’s debriefing. She said we did a good job helping each other when our stations were closing down.
Tonight we were treated to a wonderful Italian dinner in Short Pump. The Richmond team definitely knows how to treat us well!!
Afterward, we met in the “Hospitality Room” to relax from the day. Greg Hare surprised us by stopping in with his wife and baby and congratulated us on a successful first day.
October 16, 2011
Sunday evening, October 16th
We've come from Hawaii and Canada, Colorado and Massachusetts, Texas and Illinois, Ohio and other places. We came by plane or by car to convene upon the Richmond area for the week of October 16th. Some were newbies to the clinic experience and some had multiple clinic experiences, both Regional and International. Regardless of where they came from, how they got here or their experience level, one thing is for certain . . . Team Richmond is in the house!!
After dinner at the Ramada, orientation was led by Darla All, who has been running the Richmond clinic for many years and has proven herself to be a great leader. But as Darla herself says, what makes a great leader is the people behind them. Darla’s core team has been instrumental in helping her get ready for the big week.
One piece of advice that was given to the newbies . . . “This is an extraordinary experience. Have Fun”. I plan on doing just that!
About the Clinic
2011 Richmond Clinic Blog Clinic
A team of 40 trained volunteers and doctors from across North America will come together to provide much needed vision care and eyewear to Richmond-area students.