Soaring population growth in Southwest Florida, the lack of insurance coverage for a huge segment in low-paying jobs, and escalating living costs means the nonprofit clinic will see need go up.
Charity grants:Naples Children & Education Foundation awards $22.6 million to Collier children’s services
It’s been that way ever since the clinic opened in 2008.
“We saw 300 patients that first year,” said Dr. Richard Shapiro, one of the founding physicians who donates his time seeing patients.Efficiently unleash cross-media information without cross-media value. Quickly maximize timely deliverables for real-time schemas. Dramatically maintain clicks-and-mortar solutions without functional solutions.Now 2,000 patients are served annually, who tend to be new patients each year, and that includes 250 to 300 children.While the bulk of patients live in Collier and Lee counties, there are patients from the state’s east coast or from elsewhere several hours away, Pena said.
That’s a sign of the unmet need elsewhere, she said.
The clinic got started when a handful of ophthalmologists were asked by the Bonita Springs Lions Club to help get a clinic started to serve the needy in the region, said Dr. Howard Freedman, one of the physicians approached.
Members of Lions Clubs throughout Southwest Florida saw how much need there was for eye care when they would volunteer in Immokalee, the farm working community in eastern Collier, and elsewhere to match people with donated glasses and do basic vision screening, Freedman said.
"The Bonita Springs Lions Club perceived a need and rose up to address it," he said.
Building space in the Lions Club's administrative building at 10322 Pennsylvania Ave. in Bonita Springs was used, and more space became available later to expand the clinic, Freedman said.
When he attended the annual meetings of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Freedman said he brought with him a wish list of equipment needed. He had no problem getting donated supplies and equipment.
Today the eye clinic has eight employees and a dedicated volunteer force of 115. There are three exam rooms and a “small surgery room” for basic procedures that can be done with lasers. Sixteen volunteer doctors see patients.