SEVERAL residents in communities on Jamaica's west end are to benefit from free eye care services next week, as the Sandals Foundation/Great Shape! Inc. iCare project make its way to Jamaica for the fourth year.
iCare clinics will run from October 8-12 at the Grange Hill Community Centre in Westmoreland, and will be open to the public from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday to Thursday and 9:00 to 1:00 pm on Friday. Patients will have access to free eye chart tests, glasses, auto refraction services, retinoscopy, eye surgery referrals, eye pathology tests and blood pressure/blood sugar screening.
The iCare group, which comprises of eye care doctors, eye care professionals and support staff from the United States and Canada has already impacted more than 7,000 Jamaicans over the last three years and has distributed approximately 11,000 pairs of glasses. The team plans on donating an additional 16,000 pairs this year to persons in need.
According to iCare Programme Director Dr Steven Stern, 35 to 40 volunteers will be working to help close to 2,000 patients during this five-day clinic. "There is a great need in Jamaica for eye care, glasses and hypertension/diabetes screening. In Western Jamaica, there is no public health optometry and this is our way of bridging that gap," he said. "We are so grateful for the support and sponsorship of the Sandals Foundation and all our volunteers who make all of this work possible."
All the glasses and supplies are donated through Great Shape! VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity), and LERC (Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre). The Sandals Foundation provides logistics support, accommodation, meals and transportation daily to the various clinic sites. Jamaica's Ministry of Health provides the infrastructure and general support.
The team will make its second stop at the Eltham Community Centre in Ocho Rios from October 15-19, where residents will have access to the same services provided in Westmoreland.
Great Shape! Inc also conducts two other projects in Jamaica, 1,000 Smiles and SuperKids in partnership with the Sandals Foundation. The 1,000 Smiles project is the world's largest, international, humanitarian dental project which recently conducted a two week dental clinic in September of this year at three locations in Hanover. SuperKids is aimed at improving literacy in local schools through reading, provision of computers and training, art, music, and sports and plans to visit the western region in October and November of this year.