Southern Eye Bank Provides Vision Equipment Grant to St. Thomas Community Health Center

2014 Grant Statistics Prove Impact of Work – Leading to Expansion of Support
2015 Grant Recipient Donald Costello, O.D. and Southern Eye Bank Executive Director, William B. Buras, Sr. CEBT
2015 Grant Recipient Donald J. Costello, O.D.  Optometrist- St. Thomas Community Health Center and Southern Eye Bank Executive Director, William B. Buras, Sr., CEBT

Following the outstanding impact of a 2014 grant provided to St. Thomas Community Health Center to purchase new equipment for eye exams, Southern Eye Bank has again decided to continue its support and provide a 2015 grant to Dr. Donald Costello at the St. Thomas Community Health Center.

The new grant will allow the eye clinic at St. Thomas to purchase a Retinal Camera and a Vision Testing System Letter Chart. Both pieces of technology will help the multitude of patients that St. Thomas clinic caters to and address eye issues that are common in this community, and often the byproduct of diseases such as diabetes.

The retinal camera will allow the staff at St. Thomas to perform diagnostic testing of the retina without dilating the pupils. This will decrease the time it takes to perform these tests, as well as the time required to diagnose and monitor retinal diseases. The retinal camera is WiFi-ready for telemedicine and is user-friendly, allowing various staff members to perform the necessary tests.

By providing a fixation device for young children, the Vision Testing System Letter Chart will aid in cooperation during the eye exam. The system can also be used as a patient education tool, showing videos that assist in explaining the eye diagnosis to patients.

“This equipment is vital to how we can serve the community-at-large. With a community and many patients being diabetic, or pre-diabetic, without even knowing that they have the condition, we can use this equipment together to diagnose and prevent a myriad of problems related to the disease that impacts the eye,” said Donald Costello, Optometrist at St. Thomas. “Southern Eye Bank’s generosity and partnership have been vital to the growth of our clinic and how we support our patients.”

In 2014, Southern Eye Bank made a donation to St. Thomas Community Health Center; a non-profit organization serving as a full-service primary eye clinic for the community. In the past year, through the work of Dr. Costello and his staff, St. Thomas Community Health Center was able to provide 2,649 eye exams to 2,114 patients. Since he began the eye clinic at St. Thomas, the clinic has experienced steady growth and the demand for superior eye care technology has become paramount to its success.

With the 2014 grant, St. Thomas was able to purchase an Optical Coherence Tomographer (OCT) and a Corneal Topographer. Without the generous donation, St. Thomas Community Health Center would have been unable to provide the diagnostic capabilities to their patients.

“We could not be more proud of Dr. Costello and the St. Thomas Community Health Center and how Southern Eye Bank is able to partner with them to provide the funding for the equipment,” said William B. Buras Sr., Executive Director at Southern Eye Bank. “The use of the equipment is astounding in how much it is helping those who are in need of eye care but are not able to afford it. Ultimately, Southern Eye Bank’s mission is to preserve and restore sight, and if this helps achieve that goal, then we are doing our job for the community.”

The OCT was instrumental to the continuing success of the St. Thomas Community Health Center; providing the ability to detect, diagnose, and treatment guidance for retinal diseases and conditions that are most frequently found in glycemic and diabetic patients. Many of the St. Thomas patients suffer from these diseases, which are also the two most common causes of blindness in the United States.   The corneal topographer is used to map the surface of the cornea in order to determine the shape and power of the cornea. With the cornea topographer, one is able to identify curvature abnormalities and diseases.

As the partnership continues to flourish between Southern Eye Bank and St. Thomas Community Health Center, the patients are the real beneficiaries. St. Thomas’ mission is “to provide culturally competent health care of the highest quality regardless of the ability to pay.” The grants provided by Southern Eye Bank have created a snowball effect of change, making the staff at St. Thomas better equipped and more efficient, which has led to higher-quality eye care for their patients.

Dr. Costello’s Eye Clinic can be located at St. Thomas at Mahalia Jackson Location at 2405 Jackson Ave., Building B, Suite 222, New Orleans, LA, 70113 (on the corner of Jackson Ave. and Freret Street), 504-529-5558. St. Thomas will purchase the new equipment shortly after the Southern Eye Bank provides the funds.

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