New Efforts Expand Moran's Outreach Care Closer to Home

Mar 01, 2019 8:30 AM


Sherman, holding his old pair of glasses, held together by tape, looks forward to no-cost new glasses from the Moran Eye Center to replace the pair he’s worked hard to keep together for at least a decade.
Sherman looks forward to no-cost new glasses from the Moran Eye Center to replace the pair he’s worked hard to keep together for at least a decade.
The John A. Moran Eye Center’s Global Outreach Division has long worked to meet a growing need for eye care among underserved Utahns. It recently partnered with community organizations to expand outreach for the state’s homeless and resettled refugee populations through two new efforts: Project Homeless Connect and the Refugee Eye Care Clinic.

Project Homeless Connect

Take one look at Sherman’s glasses, and it’s clear how hard he’s worked to keep them going. The lenses are scratched but intact. The metal frame is held together by duct tape, and a faded green twist tie strengthens a failing connection.

They’re the only pair Sherman has had for at least a decade, through hard times and most recently homelessness. But thanks to Moran Eye Center Global Outreach Division volunteer physicians and medical personnel, he’s looking forward to a modern new pair of bifocals.

Moran’s Rebekah Gensure, MD, PhD, and Dale at Project Homeless Connect.
Moran’s Rebekah Gensure, MD, PhD, and Dale at Project Homeless Connect.

Moran provided Sherman with a comprehensive eye exam and a new prescription in October 2018 during Salt Lake City’s Project Homeless Connect, which offers a variety of local services as part of a larger initiative sponsored by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Moran supplied eye care and surgical referrals at the city’s inaugural 2017 event and most recently worked with Friends for Sight to provide 164 free eye exams, 114 prescription glasses, and more than 100 pairs each of reading and sunglasses.

A man at Project Homeless Connect tries on new eyeglasses.
The Moran Eye Center helped provide 114 prescription glasses, and more than 100 pairs each of reading and sunglasses at Salt Lake City's Project Homeless Connect in October.

An Overwhelming Need for Glasses

Glasses were the overwhelming need, according to Moran’s Craig J. Chaya, MD, division co-medical director and one of the event’s volunteer physicians. “It’s amazing how many people can’t see, can’t fully function, simply because they don’t have the proper prescription, or because they’ve lost or broken their only pair of glasses,” he said.

Jessica was among those eager to get new glasses after running out of disposable contact lenses: she couldn’t afford a $50 Medicaid co-pay for refills. “It’s been really bad,” she said. “I can hardly see anything.”

People in need of updated prescriptions, like Sherman, later picked up their new glasses at the Fourth Street Clinic in Salt Lake City, where Moran physicians regularly provide no-cost eye care.

Aaiti Maya Rai is pictured. She received free cataract surgery as part of Operation Sight Day.
Aaiti Maya Rai, right, received free cataract surgery as part of a Moran Operation Sight Day event.

Hope In Sight Refugee Eye Care Clinic

When Aaiti Maya Rai of Salt Lake City was a baby, she lost sight in her left eye following an injury. She made do with her right eye until, as an older adult, vision in that eye started to blur. Little by little, she began to lose most of her sight—along with her independence.

For years, she had little hope of getting her sight back. As one of tens of thousands of Nepali Bhutanese who fled the country decades ago because of political repression, Rai had been living in a refugee camp in Nepal. Two years ago, a resettlement agency relocated her to Utah.

In April 2018, volunteer doctors evaluated her sight as part of the Moran Eye Center Global Outreach Division’s inaugural Refugee Eye Care Clinic. An ophthalmologist confirmed Rai’s failing vision was due to a cataract—a clouding of the eye’s natural lens that causes blindness. The good news was that a simple operation could restore her vision.

Craig J. Chaya, MD, provides free medical care at the Refugee Eye Care Clinic.
Craig J. Chaya, MD, provides free medical care at the inaugural Refugee Eye Care Clinic.

A Community Working Together

Physicians identified Rai and 18 other former refugees for free cataract surgery through Moran’s twice-yearly Operation Sight events, sponsored by Bank of American Fork. Following her June 2018 surgery, Rai was thrilled. “She says she can’t wait to read again,” said Kalpana Singh, MD, a Nepalese doctor training at Moran who served as her interpreter.

Moran partnered with the Refugee and Immigrant Center–Asian Association of Utah, the International Rescue Committee, and the Utah Refugee Services Office to organize the event, made possible by funding sponsor Grandeur Peak Global Advisors of Salt Lake City.

“It’s important that we, as a community working together, take the opportunity to step up and meet the need for eye care right here at home,” said Jeff Pettey, MD, outreach division co-medical director.

“When we assist Utahns who are chronically underserved, we’re transforming families and supporting our state economy by getting people back to work and school.”

By the Numbers

2018 Local Outreach

1,219

Comprehensive Eye Exams for Adults and Children

114

Eye Surgeries

1,191

Donated Pairs of Adult and Pediatric Glasses

11,498

Volunteer Hours by 188 People

Through November 2018, including refugee clinics; Operation Sight Day; Project Homeless
Connect; Navajo Nation clinics; and Maliheh, Fourth Street, and People’s Health clinics.

vision outreach patient care