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OLSHF part of state health care safety net since '59

Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation announced recently it had received a grant from the Lions Club International Foundation totaling $60,420.

The grant will support OLSHF's Mobile Health Screening Program and help meet its goal to provide free sight and hearing screenings to all school-age children in Oregon.

OLSHF is a nonprofit foundation of the Oregon Lions Club that, among other things, partners with Oregon schools to screen school-age children.

Specifically, OLSHF will use the grant to purchase state-of-the-art, hand-held photo-screeners that will enable volunteers to screen more children, in less time, with a higher degree of accuracy.

Partner schools will save more money and fewer false positives will save families needless, expensive trips to the eye doctor.

"The significance of this grant cannot be overstated," said Doug Thompson, OLSHF's interim executive director. "The photo-screeners we can now purchase are incredibly powerful devices that have already proven to improve diagnoses and increase the number of students screened on a given day.

"With a quick eye scan, they deliver comprehensive, reliable vision data for each child.

“Importantly, photo-screeners reduce human error, especially errors arising from poor communication with pre-verbal, special needs, and non-English speaking students."

The announcement comes as OLSHF seeks to expand the number of partner schools it serves throughout the state. Oregon law requires schools to provide screenings free-of-charge to students, which are critical to identify early vision and hearing problems but can cost tens of thousands of dollars each year.

High costs and recent budget cuts have caused many schools to suspend screenings.

OLSHF is able to offer screenings to schools at a fraction of the normal cost and with much greater accuracy and efficiency.

Last year, OLSHF screened 30 percent of Oregon school children and is working with schools, districts and the Department of Education to ensure that by 2020 all children receive screenings.

"Oregon schools face real financial challenges, some of which are having a direct impact on the health of young students," continued Thompson.

"The good news is that we can provide critical sight and hearing screenings more efficiently with less cost to local schools."

In 1925, Helen Keller challenged Lions to take up her cause of preventing blindness and deafness, and to this day OLSHF is proud to be living up to that challenge.

Since 1959, the OLSHF has been an important part of Oregon's health care safety net.

It provides seven direct service programs throughout the state in line with our mission "to screen, treat, save, and restore sight and hearing for those in need," in partnership with Lions Clubs.

OLSHF serves Oregonians in need in a variety of ways including free mobile health screenings, sight and hearing saving surgeries, exams for visually impaired children, and refurbished hearing aids.

OLSHF serves more than 100,000 people a year at an average cost of less than $10 per person.

For more information, please visit www.olshf.org.

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