Congressmen Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) and Lamar Smith (R-TX-21), along with UIW President Dr. Louis Agnese, announced the receipt of a $1 million federal grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at a press conference at the Rosenberg School of Optometry (RSO) on Oct. 31. The grant will fund specialized optometric equipment to be used at the new UIW Eye Care and Health Center on San Antonio’s Eastside.
“With just one private optometry office available to serve the Eastside of San Antonio, this clinic will not only provide necessary medical treatment to San Antonians, it will also give an opportunity for students to complete their medical practice requirements,” Cuellar said. “The grant is helping to alleviate 11 percent of the total project cost – bringing taxpayer dollars back home for a project that is centered on serving the community.”
The public facility will increase access to health care for residents of the inner city by providing professional eye care services to the community. UIW is constructing a three-story, 30,000 square-foot center that will serve 25,000 patients yearly. When fully operational, the facility will create and sustain an estimated 40 to 50 new jobs.
“There is a significant need for this facility in this part of San Antonio,” said Agnese. “Some of the diseases that can destroy vision such as diabetes and glaucoma are over-represented in areas like the Eastside. So we’re very appreciative of the efforts of Congressmen Cuellar and Smith in making this critically-needed center a reality for San Antonio.”
Patients will be served by licensed eye care doctors and interns from the RSO. In addition, UIW will partner with St. Philip’s College to assist in training students and increasing the number of nearby residents qualified to serve as ophthalmic technicians. Future doctors will also be able to train at the facility. An estimated one-fourth of the 65 graduates yearly will remain in the area to practice.
“Vision problems make it harder for kids to learn in school and eye infections, if left untreated, can lead to permanent vision loss. The facility will help San Antonio residents get much-needed eye care regardless of their ability to pay. And this federal grant will ensure that the doors are open sooner and residents have access to eye care faster,” said Smith.