YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Los Angeles

Nonprofit Lynwood Eye Clinic Dedicated

June 18, 2004|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

A multimillion-dollar ophthalmology clinic was dedicated Thursday in Lynwood, an area where eye care is in short supply.

The Los Angeles Eye Institute will operate out of a medical building near St. Francis Medical Center, but institute officials hope to build an office for the clinic on a parking lot at King/Drew Medical Center in nearby Willowbrook.

Institute Chairman Dr. Richard Casey, chief of the ophthalmology department and clinic at King/Drew, said the institute is desperately needed because King/Drew's clinic -- inside a trailer near the main hospital building -- can only accommodate about half of the people who try to make appointments each year.

"We weren't meeting the need, and we needed to put into place a system so that we could get to people sooner who needed to see us," Casey said.

He said King/Drew's clinic remains top-notch despite problems identified by state and federal inspectors in other parts of the hospital.

"I wouldn't be there if I didn't believe" in the clinic, Casey said.

"I believe we have the expertise there, but there just isn't enough space."

Diseases of the eye are often slow to be diagnosed in poor neighborhoods, he said. Many children who need glasses, for instance, never get to see an eye doctor.

The institute operates as a nonprofit and is not affiliated with King/Drew hospital, which is owned and run by Los Angeles County. The institute bills patients who have the means to pay and uses that money to pay for the care of indigent patients, said Nicholas V. McClure, president and CEO of the clinic.

McClure said the institute has been in operation since September, but said word has been slow to spread. He hopes that will change -- and that much-needed donor money will follow.

"The vision for us is to create a world-class eye center," McClure said.

Los Angeles Times Articles