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During its 2016-2017 fiscal year, Southern College of Optometry’s clinical programs provided $1,844,415 in uncompensated optometric care in the Memphis community, a 183 percent increase since the college began tracking it in 2009. Uncompensated care represents numerous outreach programs geared toward bringing eye care to the community, as well as care for uninsured or underinsured patients.
“This exponential increase in uncompensated care numbers is an astounding figure and a point of pride,” said Dr. James Venable, vice president for clinical programs at SCO. “This unparalleled access to care benefits the Memphis community and our students, who complete approximately 3,000 individual patient encounters by graduation.”
The numbers represent 17 percent of SCO’s gross charges, well above the industry standard of 10 to 12 percent for charitable care. Approximately 80 percent of SCO’s uncompensated care came through professional services in one of the college’s clinical facilities, including services offered through collaborations with Church Health Center®, InfantSEE®, Baptist Outreach Programs® and others. The remaining 20 percent results from community-based services like education events and SCO’s School Screenings Program, which services area students. This year’s number is bolstered by the expansion of MobilEYES, SCO’s mobile care unit, and the college’s new strategic plan.
“SCO and The Eye Center are exceptional educational and clinical institutions with the potential to significantly impact Memphis and beyond,” Venable said. “The number has continuously grown since 2009, when we provided more than $600,000 of uncompensated care. It underscores our commitment to our community and to growing our outreach efforts. Although we have nearly reached our limit, we can to grow this number with assistance from partners in our community.”