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American Savings Foundation Gives $25,000 to the New Britain Lions Club Eye Clinic

New Britain [October 14 2005] - New Britain General Hospital, Lions Club, and American Savings Partner to Provide Quality Eye Care.

The American Savings Foundation has awarded $25,000 to support the New Britain Lions Community Eye Clinic. The gift was announced by Otto P. Strobino, Lions Club past international director and clinic committee chairman on Friday. “We are thrilled that the Foundation has made this very generous gift to the Lions Eye Clinic, so we can continue to serve the community. It is a two-year grant intended to help us cover our basic operating expenses,” he said.

The Lions Eye Clinic opened in 1999 on 33 Highland Street in space donated by New Britain General Hospital to serve low-income and uninsured city residents.

The number of patient visits has grown three-fold over the past year, primarily due to increased referrals from the New Britain Partners in Health and from the Community Health Center. While Strobino says he is gratified that the clinic continues to serve more patients, the increases have put a serious strain on the eye clinic’s budget. The clinic now has 40 to 50 patient visits per month.

“The American Savings Foundation is pleased to make this gift to such a worthy organization. The Lions Eye Clinic makes a tremendous difference in the lives of uninsured and underinsured community members. The service simply would not exist without them,” said David Davison, president of the Foundation.

The clinic’s services are available to any New Britain city resident who qualifies according to income. Clients are given a complete eye exam by Dr. Stephen Polezonis, optometrist and chief clinician, who tests visual acuity and screens for eye damage or disease. Dr. Polezonis also happens to be the Lions’ current president. If a patient requires glasses, the optometrist writes a prescription that the patient can bring to one of several vendors with whom the eye clinic has an arrangement to provide free (or very low cost) eyeglasses. The cost of the glasses is born by the clinic.

If the optometrist finds evidence of damage or disease — cataract, glaucoma, retinal detachment or any other disease or damage — the clinic helps to make arrangements for further care. Some physicians donate services. The eye clinic and its supporting community partners help patients get the treatment they need, regardless of their ability to pay.

“This is possible because of the close collaboration of several organizations for the community’s benefit,” said Enrique Juncadella, who until September was director of the New Britain Partners in Health, a federally-funded program to expand access to health care for the uninsured. It was in that position that Juncadella wrote the grant proposal to the American Savings Foundation. Soon afterward Juncadella took on the position of director of community relations for the Hospital.

“The Lions Club has been working on behalf of low-income individuals for a long time. Their dedication to service is the reason this program exists,” said Juncadella. “But with the help of donated space and volunteer staff from the Hospital and community health organizations, we can really increase the level of service.”

The New Britain Lions Club Eye Clinic is located at 33 Highland Street in New Britain. The phone number is 225-4033.


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