On addressing public health in Hub City
Regrettably, ocular deficiencies are not found uniformly across the population. Low-income, uninsured and minority groups tend to be at a higher risk for suffering from undiagnosed and uncorrected ocular disease. Compounding this disparity are factors such as inadequate or lack of health insurance, lack of access to eye care professionals, high treatment costs and little awareness and comprehension of the importance of routine comprehensive eye exams. To address this public health problem, there is a need to promote and protect healthy vision in individuals regardless of their financial situation, insurance status and ethnic group.
The Enlighten New Brunswick (ENB) program will be a student-run integrated system aimed at addressing the public health issue of vision loss in the New Brunswick community by breaking down health care barriers. By providing free vision screenings and facilitating patient inscription into nationally established programs that offer free eye care services (ie., EyeCare America and VISION USA), we expect this proposed program to lessen the degree and impact of visual impairment in New Brunswick.
The Rutgers University student organization, Envision Rutgers, currently holds free community vision screenings and offers referrals to the VISION USA program. The ENB program will be an extension of these services, providing referrals to EyeCare America as well. The success of the ENB program will be contingent upon members: Therefore, Rutgers University and/or Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences students are encouraged to volunteer as vision screeners and referral agents. Volunteers will receive training for these roles and a first-hand experience of the health care barriers that afflict the local community. The program will run bimonthly at either the New Brunswick Free Public Library or the Senior/Youth Center in Highland Park (NJ) during Rutgers University’s Fall and Spring sessions. Program team members will collectively establish the location and times during which the program will operate at the beginning of every month. For more information on how to receive training and become a volunteer, please contact Envision Rutgers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monica Castle is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior majoring in Biotechnology and Nutritional Sciences with minors in French and Biochemistry.