As we begin the countdown to serve our 100,000th student through our technology-based comprehensive children’s program, we are especially grateful to some of our supporters and funders who invested in the early work of our programs.
MEDARVA, once known as Richmond Eye and Ear, was the initial funder of our technology based screening in Richmond. MEDARVA was so confident in the work of Conexus, they granted a five-year award to explore the possibilities! Conexus hit the ground running and worked with a panel of early education experts to develop a best practice vision and hearing screening program for Pre-K students, which came to be known as W.H.E.E.L.S.
By year five Conexus had delivered W.H.E.E.L.S. programming to more than 16,500 Pre-K students, referring over 3,600 for follow-up vision care. Technology, incorporated into a comprehensive program, had proven itself to be efficient and effective and parents and schools were pouring in positive responses to the Conexus program and services.
In 2015, at the close of five years, MEDARVA was so pleased with the outcome of the W.H.E.E.L.S. program they elected to use the project as a stepping stone to create their own MEDARVA branded Pre-K hearing and vision screening program.
MEDARVA’S good instincts to invest in Conexus' programs not only created an opportunity for MEDARVA to branch out into Pre-K screenings, but it acted as a catalyst for Conexus’ explosive growth. Through the early work of W.H.E.E.L.S, designed solely for local delivery to a maximum of 3,500 Pre-K students annually, Conexus was able to create what’s become known as VisioCheck. VisioCheck is currently serving more than 30,000 Pre-K through 12th grade students annually across the Commonwealth, with the capacity to reach 200,000 in Virginia alone. We are so thankful for one of our earliest investors who helped us to start small but gave us the capacity to think big!!
The results are in on the first school to be fully serviced through Richmond Mobile, a collaborative effort between Conexus and California-based Vision To Learn. Services to this school not only confirmed the tremendous need for vision services in Richmond, but also demonstrated the value of this collaborative partnership!
Conexus programming identified 126 students in need of follow-up vision care (32% of enrolled students). Redd staff immediately went to work to encourage participation in the mobile clinic and were able to secure 104 (83%) returned parental permission slips! For two and a half days the Vision To Learn team delivered 104 onsite eye exams and prescribed 97 (93%) pair of glasses.
The success rate of this launch school has been overwhelming! Through the efficiencies and effectiveness of VisioCheck, more of the “right” students were identified for the services of the mobile clinic. The visiting Vision To Learn optometrist from Detroit said on the first day, “not only did we see 34 students, we prescribed 34 pairs of glasses - that NEVER happens!” One of Vision To Learn’s most difficult challenges in their service delivery across the country is getting the right kids to the clinic and that all starts with the screening — a process that is normally handled through the services of the host community. “The first thing I did when I got finished today was call my boss to tell him, ‘we need this!’”, said Dr. Megan, VTL optometrist.
Conexus purposefully and meticulously designed the VisioCheck program with some of the most common challenges of school based vision screenings in mind and watching VisioCheck operate so effectively in conjunction with a mobile clinic has been very rewarding. We are excited to be a part of such a dynamic partnership and one with such potential for growth and service!
At the October 10th Annual Board of Directors meeting, pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Ed Wortham completed his term, rotating off the Conexus Board of Directors. Dr. Wortham has been a long time friend, supporter, and advisor to Conexus and we are grateful for his service. The good news is that Dr. Wortham will continue to serve as Co-Chair of the Council for Pediatric Vision!
Replacing Dr. Wortham on the Board is Dr. Evan Silverstein, author of our study on technology based screenings. Dr. Silverstein, also a pediatric ophthalmologist, has already demonstrated enthusiastic leadership as a member of the Council for Pediatric Vision and we are honored to have him as a member of our Board of Directors.
Wishing Corrine, our VisioCheck Screening Technician, and her new husband Alex Berry all the best in their marriage!
Lauren Garber, who has been one of our VisioCheck technicians for more than 5 years, is saying goodbye to Conexus. Lauren has been an invaluable member of our team but has three young boys at home that want their mom full-time! We will miss Lauren’s contagious smile and amazing treats, but most of all, we will miss her passion for our mission. Thank you for all your years of excellent service and we wish you and your family all the happiness that comes with being at home full time!