Lions See a Need in Virginia

In Williamsburg, Virginia, patients in need of eye care were often just that: in need.

Without an eye clinic in town, they were referred to local practices, and because many of the people do not have their own transportation, the no-show rate for referrals was high. Patients had to wait several weeks to a few months for an appointment.

Things changed for the better when the James City Lions Club and the Lions Charity Foundation of Southeast Virginia came forward to add an eye clinic to the Olde Town Medical and Dental Center. The center was established in 1993 to address the needs of Greater Williamsburg’s uninsured and medically underserved residents. Project lead Lion Don Butts originated the idea to offer vision service as well, and charter Lion Dr. Pam Lundberg, an Olde Town Medical Center volunteer who has provided care for the patients for many years, identified the equipment needed to be purchased by the Lions. The club raised more than US$9,000 through their annual golf tournament so eye professionals could evaluate visual acuity and eye pressure.

Lions Pam Lundberg, Linda Benner, and Steve Jasper in the eye clinic founded and supported by James City Lions.

Lundberg also began recruiting volunteer optometrists to help her staff the clinic. James City Lions, in a club of more than 70 members, volunteer their time for administrative assistance, helping patients with paperwork, and escorting them to examinations. Last year, 164 patients were examined and 129 required lenses.

“Our club supports the Olde Town Medical Center and Dental Center so that was a logical place to establish an eye clinic,” says Butts. ”The Lions core mission is vision so it seemed to follow that the clinic should be also an eye clinic.”

On average, the center provides more than 1,350 patient visits per month in all areas combined, and 80 percent of their patients are without insurance.