“I was very pleased with all the services I received from beginning to end,” said Mrs. Johnson, who had read about the NECO in an article in Woman’s World. “Everyone was fantastic.” She plans to have the cataract removed from her right eye, also, in which she has 20/200 vision. Mrs. Johnson is one of more than 178,000 seniors who have been referred for care through the NECP, which offers medical and surgical eye care to U.S. citizens or legal residents, age 65 or older, who do not have access to an ophthalmologist they have seen in the past.
An NECP volunteer since opening his private practice two years ago, Dr. Michels says the program exemplifies what medicine is all about. “Sometimes we lose sight of what’s important in what we do, which is to use our skills to help those who really need care. But often those who need us most don’t have access to care in our current system. The NECP is light years ahead of any Clinton plan to provide that sort of service.”
When Dr. Michels, a retinal specialist, discover Mrs. Johnson had cataracts, he recommended surgery and referred her to cataract surgeon Silviano Matamoros, MD who perfomed a succesfull cataract operation. Although Dr. Matamoros was not an NECP volunteer at the time, he agreed to perform the surgery.
Inspired by his colleague’s commitment to the program, Dr. Matamoros has signed on as a volunteer, joining more than 7,500 NECP ophthalmologists. “It’s gratifying to see how Mrs. Johnson’s quality of life improved,” he said.
NECP physicians agree to provide a comprehensive eye exam for patients referred though the program, as well as treatments for any condition diagnosed during that visit. Ophthalmologists accept reimbursement from Medicare or the patient’s other health insurance as payment in full; patients pay no out-of-pocket costs. Those who are uninsured receive care at no charge.
Founded in 1986, the NECP is the largest public service program sponsored by a national medical society. More than 271,000 people have called the toll-free helpline (800-222-EYES). For more information about the NECP or to volunteer, stop by the NECP display in the Resource Center.
Page 18 – Argus, November 16, 1993
American Academy of Oohthalmology Newspaper