Even before it publicly opened last week at Oyler School
, doctors at the nation’s first school-based, self-sustaining vision center discovered a fifth-grade boy who has been living virtually blind.
Doctors detected the boy’s acute vision problem while testing equipment to prepare for the public opening and dedication of the OneSight Vision Center
inside the Lower Price Hill school last week. The self-sustaining vision center also outfitted the boy with glasses, as it is expected to do for hundreds more children.
“If you grow up in a world where you don’t know any different, you think this is the way it is,’’ says Craig Hockenberry, Oyler's principal. “You can imagine the impact on learning when a child cannot see the board or a read a book. The vision center will help us get these kids the vision care they so desperately need.”
The full-service vision center will provide comprehensive eye exams, glasses, fittings, adjustments, medical eye care and vision therapy with an onsite optometrist, ophthalmic technician and optician. It is expected to serve about 2,000 students per year.
A group of public and private partners spent the last two years working to open the center:
Dr. Marilyn Crumpton, director of the Cincinnati Health Department’s School and Adolescent Health Division, says that the year-round center will be completely self-sustaining through insurance payments, primarily through Medicaid.
The issue for many children who need vision services is a barrier to access – not a lack of insurance, she says. About 90 percent of Oyler students are Medicaid recipients. The center now will provide that access and will handle all the insurance filings. In addition, Dr. Crumpton says, the center will provide transportation to other students who do not attend Oyler but are in need of services. They will also deliver glasses to students so they don’t lose learning time in their home schools.
Hockenberry says the center fits into the holistic approach to education at Oyler, which is one of the leading community learning centers in the city. Oyler provides medical and psychological services in the school, which is open from about 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. year-round.
“We never stop. The whole concept is that we want to be the central hub of activity in our community,’’ says Hockenberry. “The vision center fits perfectly into that.”
Hockenberry says that at the same time the center was being dedicated, a team of about 70 educators, politicians and others from New York City were visiting Oyler to see what they're doing and model it back in New York.
“I can’t be more proud of what we are doing,’’ he says.
Crumpton agrees: “This shows the kids that the community – the whole community – is investing in them to succeed. They are our future. It really makes me proud to call Cincinnati home.”
• Like Oyler School on Facebook
more about OneSight and its mission.
• Read and listen to National Public Radio’s ongoing series “One School One Year
” series, which focuses on Oyler.