September Newsletter

optical Prime Serves First Adult Patients

On August 9, half Helen provided eye care to our first adult patient, Rita! Rita is one of thousands of patients who had not been able to access a comprehensive eye exam or prescription glass over the last several months because the Community Vision Program had been suspended.

The Community Vision Program provides eye exams and glasses to adults who would otherwise not be able to receive care. CommUnityCare, the program’s administrator, reached out to half Helen to help restart the program. During the month of August, our new clinic team provided eye exams and glasses to 224 adult patients. optical Prime will be at one of five health centers on the same day each week through the end of September. In October, optical Prime will transition to serving children at our school partner locations Monday through Thursday and adults at partner health center locations on Fridays. These clinics will be essential to the long-term success of the optical Prime program. Revenue generated from adult clinics will help fund the school-based services we offer throughout the year.

half Helen’s 2021-22 Screening team (from left to right) Rachel Hillebrand, Khai Parker, Melissa Casas, Sarah Fiedler, Ladaya Whitfield, Peter Walter (not pictured). 

half Helen Resumes Vision Screenings in Schools

Vision screenings are an important part of a child’s health care and are required by the State of Texas for ages 4 and grades K, 1,3, 5, and 7. Now that school is back in session, half Helen has a full schedule of vision screening dates with our 20+ partner schools. Vision screenings identify children with potential vision impairment because when caught early vision impairment can be corrected and vision loss can be prevented. In order to pass the vision screening a student must be able to read the print on the eye chart properly. From the six schools visited so far, the team has screened a total of 1601 children. About 1 of every 4 students screened did not pass and will need a comprehensive eye exam. In October, the students who did not pass will have the opportunity to see an optometrist on our mobile eye clinic, optical Prime. This gives the optometrist the opportunity to diagnose and correct potential vision impairments.

optical Prime and Austin FC Ticket Raffle

Join Austin Anthem and visit optical Prime on Saturday, October 16 at Circle Brewing, Austin Anthem’s Matchday Headquarters. Both Circle Brewing and Hopsquad Brewing will donate $1 to half Helen for each beer sold that day. To make the event even more special, half Helen will be raffling two pairs of tickets for the following week’s Austin FC home game. You’ll be able to purchase one raffle entry for $10 or 2 entries for $15. Stay tuned for more information in our October newsletter.

Fort Worth ISD Licenses swift Screen

Fort Worth ISD has become the first school district outside of Austin to license swift Screen. School Nurses for 90 schools completed their swift Screen training in August and in the first two days screened almost 900 children for vision impairment across two FWISD schools.

half Helen Welcomes More New Faces

Juanita Plascencia joined half Helen as our Bilingual Clinic Coordinator. A Texas native and mother of two, she loves to bake and cook. Like our patients, Juanita needed glasses at a young age and didn’t get them because her parents couldn’t afford them. She is excited to join half Helen to help children and adults get the care they need to see the world clearly.

Martavier “T” Rankin joined half Helen as our CDL Driver and Optometric Technician. He is an army veteran from Mississippi who loves to travel the world. He comes to half Helen with experience working with children as part of a mobile dental program where he used to dress up as Soldier Tooth to teach kids about dental hygiene.

Amy Dowell joined the half Helen board of directors. She is a healthcare marketing strategist dedicated to guiding brands to be brave yet honest in their communication so they can truly stand apart in the market. Her experience spans over two decades– across med tech, digital health, pharma, health systems, and biologics– giving her a birds’ eye view to the opportunities and challenges facing B2B and DTC healthcare brands. Based in Austin, Texas, she runs a healthcare marketing consulting firm, Authentica Health. Formerly, she was the Managing Director of the Medtech Business Unit for healthcare agency HCB Health where she led strategy for global ophthalmic leader, Alcon, for 12 years– in addition to other eye care and medtech brands. Most recently she was the Head of Sales and Marketing for the successful virtual care innovator, Wheel.

Roni Ayalla also joined half Helen’s board of directors. She is a creative strategist, visual designer and communications professional. Roni currently works as senior brand designer at Austin-based Everly Health. Prior to joining Everly Health, Roni spent ten years building Sandpaper Productions, a creative services firm that worked with clients such as WebMD, United Healthcare and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Roni is a native of Wichita, Kansas and a graduate of Wichita State University, which recently named her “One To Watch” as an alum. She holds a Masters degree in Digital Media Communications from the University of Washington.