Free vision clinic helps youth access care

on December 11, 2018

In 2017, the Oakland Unified School District’s vision clinic at the Youth Heart Health Center became the first center for eye care to be based in a school in the Bay Area.

The clinic serves students and community members ages 3 to 21 years old by providing glasses and other vision care services at no cost — regardless of insurance status.

The vision clinic was made possible through a partnership with La Clínica de La Raza, which supervises the health center today, and a grant from OneSight, a vision care nonprofit.

Before the clinic opened, the district provided more limited eye care services through a mobile van that circulated some of its schools.

The opening of a stationary clinic was meant to allow La Clínica staff to provide eye care to more students. Clinic supervisor Allan Gamboa says because the clinic is based within La Escuelita Education Center, and within the school system, clinic staff can coordinate with school staff for student appointments. That means that, with parents’ consent, clinic staff can see students for their appointment without a parent or guardian being present. This makes it possible for students to access care without requiring an adult to take time off of work.

Since the clinic opened almost a year ago, clinic staff has seen around 500 patients, with over 1,000 visits. Overall, about 15% of the Youth Heart Health Center’s visitors have no insurance.

This winter and spring, the clinic is partnering with the district and a shuttle provider to pick up students with the most critical need for vision care from other campuses that are far from resources.

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