iCare, Sandals bring vision to western communities

October 17, 2017
Evelyn Robinson (right), a resident of Sillington, St Elizabeth, poses in the new pair of glasses she received at the Great Shape! Inc. iCARE Clinic, held last week at the Cambridge United Church. Sharing in the moment is volunteer optician Heather Klatt.
Great Shape! Inc. volunteers (from left) Camel O'Hanlon and William Walker work inside the Optical Lab at the Great Shape! Inc. iCARE Clinic in Brompton, St Elizabeth, last week.

The joint-venture arrangement between the United States-based Great Shape! Inc and the Sandals Foundation to bring much-needed health care to Jamaican communities was again evident last week as residents from communities in and around Duncans, Trelawny, and Brompton in St Elizabeth became the latest beneficiaries.

According to Rochelle Forbes, the public relations manager at Sandals South Coast, the clinics, which took place between September 25 and October 6, were a major success, as residents benefited from a wide range of medical care

"During the two-week clinic, 3,864 residents had access to free eye examinations, eye surgery referrals, as well as regular health checks," said Forbes.

"This brings the total number of Jamaicans who have benefited from the Great Shape! Inc iCARE programme to 28,973. This includes 142 cataract surgeries administered by the iCARE volunteer doctors in partnership with the Cornwall Regional Hospital and the Falmouth Hospital."

Steven Stern, programme director for iCare, stated that besides the thousands of prescription, reading and sun glasses distributed, skilled volunteers from the iCARE Group also manufactured 355 pairs of custom-fitted glasses in the clinic's advanced optical laboratory, which is a new addition to this year's programme.

"I am thrilled that we have upgraded our equipment to make custom glasses on site for our patients," said Stern. "We will also be performing eye-care screening in schools transforming children's lives and the trajectory of their education."

Forbes stated that, like all the other Great Shape! Inc humanitarian initiatives, the volunteers are always happy to give their time, noting that at least 60 persons came in and assisted with the cause.

And those who benefited are quite grateful. Douglas Porter of Shrewsbury, St Elizabeth, who sees his glasses as a basic necessity, was full of praise for the ICare team.

"I was actually in need of glasses, and I've been putting off going to the optician, so I'm really happy for the opportunity to get my eyes tested and to get a new pair of glasses," said Porter. "This will be especially helpful for the many persons who can't afford the doctor's visit and new prescriptions."

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