About the Phillips Eye Institute
By Cheryle Atkin
The Phillips Eye Institute–a campus of Abbott Northwestern Hospital, part of Allina Health–is committed to assisting Minneapolis Public School students with identifying and receiving necessary vision care and is a proud partner of the Minnesota Vision Health Task Force.
The hospital’s community program was established in 2008. Since that time, over 154,000 vision screenings have been completed in the Minneapolis Public Schools with more than 9,000 students having a change in vision care as a result of the screenings. The program is funded entirely by the generosity of donors, allowing the school district and families to receive services without any cost incurred.
Our goal is straightforward: remove vision problems as a major roadblock to learning to allow all students to achieve their fullest potential.
Early Youth Eyecare Provides Vision Screenings and Vision Care
Our community programs have three key components: vision screening, follow-up and treatment:
The Early Youth Eyecare (E.Y.E.) Community Initiative provides vision screenings to children in the Minneapolis Public Schools. During the 2019-2020 school year, over 13,750 students in 51 elementary and middle schools received vision screenings by E.Y.E. Vision screenings are completed for students in kindergarten, first, third, fifth and seventh grades. The screenings are led by the E.Y.E. staff along with the support of over 200 volunteers. The volunteers are generally nursing students, medical students, other healthcare professionals and retired individuals.
Approximately 15-19% of the students will not pass their vision screening in the school. E.Y.E. provides follow-up communication, through letters and phone calls, to all families with a child receiving a “refer” during the screening process to address the need for further vision care.
E.Y.E. provides continuous access to vision care by funding and coordinating vision services for students in pre-kindergarten through the start of ninth grade. Treatment is provided by one of our 14 partnering providers along with our own Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile. The program funds and coordinates exams and glasses as well as other needed treatment such as surgeries and medication.
Transportation and interpreters are also provided as necessary to reduce the barriers to children receiving the care they need. If glasses are prescribed, the children may choose from our selection of frames at each clinic to fit their faces and their personalities.
The Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile Drives to the Schools
The Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile (KPEM) is a mobile eye clinic on wheels with two fully equipped exam rooms and an optical shop. The KPEM team drives to selected Minneapolis Public Schools to provide full exams, including dilation, and glasses to children who have been identified as needing a more thorough evaluation. The eye mobile is named for Kirby Puckett, an advocate for eye health awareness who played centerfield for the Minnesota Twins before his career was cut short by glaucoma.
We Make an Impact
We often hear from school nurses, teachers, parents and volunteers about the impact our programs have on our beneficiaries. Here are a few of our favorites:
Cheryle Atkin (Cheryle.Atkin at Allina.com) is the Community Programs Supervisor at Phillips Eye Institute, a campus of Abbott Northwestern Hospital and part of Allina Health.