Steady rain did little to dampen the excitement of nearly 100 supporters on hand to celebrate Pacific University’s state-of-the-art mobile eyecare and vision clinic on Thursday, March 9.
The group convened under a tent at the university’s Forest Grove Campus to celebrate the College of Optometry’s new EyeVan — a converted 33-foot recreational vehicle that features two full vision exam lanes, labs and other amenities — as the new face of the college’s longstanding community outreach efforts.
Optometry students, faculty, staff and alumni joined donors who helped make the new clinic a reality to hear remarks from university President Lesley Hallick and optometry Dean Dr. Jennifer Coyle, and to tour the sparkling new facility-on-wheels.
Led by Community Outreach Director Dr. Sarah Martin, the EyeVan travels to schools, relief organizations, migrant camps and health fairs throughout Oregon and Washington for optometry students to provide comprehensive exams and other screenings to those who lack resources or access to healthcare.
Under the supervision of Martin and other Pacific faculty (also licensed practitioners), optometry students gain hands-on clinical experience providing healthcare to underserved children, elderly citizens, migrant workers, disabled military veterans and others.
The new EyeVan replaces the college’s previous mobile clinic, a converted food truck that helped optometry students, faculty and staff deliver complimentary services to tens of thousands of underserved individuals since the initiative launched in 2003, including more than 12,000 under Dr. Martin’s leadership over the past four years.
The state-of-the-art replacement vehicle expands the university’s ability to provide care to greater numbers and at greater distances.
“Because the EyeVan can go to people who would not otherwise have vision care, it really is the embodiment of the Pacific University mission,” Hallick said. “It is clearly understood by our university community that the desire to serve is the best way to teach, that it is what our students need to learn, and that service is this best environment in which they can learn. This EyeVan represents that commitment.”
Hallick and Coyle thanked the generous support of donors, including the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Clark Foundation, Edward and Myri Forsstrom, Evelyn L. Jones Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, ADI Mobile Health and many others.
Already, the new EyeVan has allowed Pacific students to provide needed exams and screenings at elementary schools, homeless shelters and public events. Later this month, students will spend their Spring Break with the EyeVan in the remote area of Fossil, Ore., to provide screenings and exams to those in need.
Representatives at schools, relief organizations and other community support agencies are encouraged to contact Dr. Martin at 503-352-2173 to learn more about EyeVan services.