Volunteering with Operation Sight – Don’t Hesitate Just Do it!

ASOA Board member and Operation Sight volunteer Carrie Jacobs, COE, OCS at Chu Vision Institute in Bloomington, Minnesota has worn many hats during her tenure at Chu Vision. From business development and marketing to day to day operations of both the practice and surgery center.

In 2016 Dr. Chu learned about the work being done by the ASCRS Foundation’s Operation Sight program and had Carrie register their practice as Operation Sight volunteers “I set up our practice as a volunteer practice and personally coordinated our first few cases so that I could establish a protocol to make the internal process go smoothly.  I worked directly with the ASCRS Foundation staff and they were so incredibly helpful in making sure we had all our questions answered. They made the process so easy.”

Chu Vision Institute provides charitable surgeries throughout the year, and also participates in the annual National Sight Week initiative. Carrie explains “We love it! The staff donates their time and we make it a celebratory event. We promote National Sight Week in the community and with the local media, and invite our optometric partners to join us as well.  It has really been a great community builder for our practice.”

Carrie shared her experience and tips in an interview with Foundation staff. 

Foundation Staff (FS): How did your practice communicate to internal staff members that they were joining the Operation Sight network? Did you have to reach out to specific departments/staff members?

Carrie Jacobs (CJ):Departmentally, we designated key individuals to coordinate the scheduling as well as any medication and IOL needs a patient would have. Coordination with the ASC and anesthesia is imperative so everyone is on the same page with what needs to be done.  Communication to the billing department is also critical so the patient doesn’t receive an unexpected bill. 

FS: What has been the most difficult part in getting the program started?

CJ: There hasn’t been any major hurdles.  Evelyn and the ASCRS Foundation make the process very smooth.  I would say perhaps one small hurdle can be language barriers with the patient and I would encourage providing very specific guidance and help to the patient when completing necessary paperwork and documents they need to provide.

 FS:What advice would you give to other practice administrators who are interested in bringing the program to their practice?

 CJ: There truly is no downside.  Bringing this program into your practice provides collaboration among the team, wonderful community awareness, and there is nothing more rewarding than being able to provide a sight-saving surgery to someone in need. There are only wins if you ask me!

FS: What have you found most rewarding about being apart of this program? Do you have a patient story/moment that resonates with you?

CJ: The joy and gratitude the patients have is so incredibly rewarding! Our very first patient was an uninsured woman in the community who had such bad cataracts that she no longer felt safe driving. She is the primary care giver to her disable adult son and she was afraid that she would no longer be able to care for him.  By having cataract surgery she was now able to continue care for her son and once again drive! She also was able to return to painting which is also something she had to give up when her vision deteriorated. In fact, weeks after her cataract surgery she dropped off a beautiful painting she had made as a thank you for giving her the gift of sight.

FS: Is there anything else you’d like to share on your experience with Operation Sight?

 CJ: If you’re thinking about getting involved, don’t hesitate and just do it. It is such a rewarding experience and we’re so thankful to be able to partner with this incredible organization!

 You still have time to join Carrie and other practice administrators in this year’s National Sight Week effort, to be held, October 20-26. Participating practices contribute one or more charitable surgeries during the nationwide event. The goal is to raise awareness of the need here in the United States and in our own communities by involving as many partners and completing as many surgeries as possible over the course of the week.

 Looking to learn more about Operation Sight from an ASOA member's perspective? Carrie recently participated in an ASOA Eyetalks Rado: Q&A Interview ¬Operation Sight featuring additional ASOA Board member's and Operation Sight volunteers, Hayley Boling, MBA, COE and Debbie Davis, COE, OCS. Together they share their experiences and tips for incorporating a charitable component into an ophthalmic practice.  

 For more information on Operation Sight or National Sight Week, please visit www.ascrsfoundation.org/nationalsightweek or contact Evelyn Morales at the ASCRS Foundation at emorales@ascrs.org.