An eye on the future
New UMSL facility to provide education and access to eye care
By Nicholas Elmes
On Friday, Nov. 4, the UMSL – Patient Care Center will host a grand opening, officially introducing the new facility to the public. The $17 million, 48,000- square-foot center and instructional building is the culmination of years of planning by the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry.
“This is a project that probably had its seed over a decade ago,” said Dean Dr. Larry Davis. “We knew we needed a place that was designed for health education. We have been operating out of a former residence hall. We have operated a patient eye care center on South Campus since the early 1980s. This new facility will allow us to provide a higher level of care. It will be more efficient and provide comprehensive eye care.”
He said the College of Optometry was the only one in the state, noting that the new facility would be unique in the St. Louis area as well.
“We designed it so that it would be accessible by Metrolink,” said Davis. “We might be the first.”
The new facility held a soft opening on Sept. 19, providing a full range of eye care services.
Davis noted that comprehensive eye care was just the start of what he hopes the new facility will be able to offer the community in the near future.
“We are also anticipating having primary care and dental in the facility,” said Davis. “We have 14,000 square feet that are unclaimed at this point. We are continuing negotiations with a number of entities so we will have lead partners come in and provide care alongside us. We are hoping to be able to offer those in 2017.”
He noted that being able to provide a wide range of services in the new facility was important for the patients his students normally serve.
“We operate with a real diverse patient population,” said Davis. “We have insured and non-insured and everything in between.”
But providing a wide range of services will also be a big benefit for students learning in the facility as well.
“Interdisciplinary care is a critical part of training health professionals,” said Davis. “We believe it will provide a higher level of training for new doctors that are coming up and are ready to practice in the 21st century.”
He said the facility would be used as a training facility for both optometry students and medical students from other disciplines.
“We will definitely have nursing students in there as well as probably other disciplines,” said Davis. “I think the sky is the limit.”
The grand opening for the facility, which will be held from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, will allow the public to see all that the facility has to offer.
During a special donor recognition event held at the facility on Sept. 23, a variety of alumni and donors said they were really impressed and excited about the new eye care center.
“I was amazed to see the new Patient Care Center,” said Dr. Kathy Noonan. “It is a beautiful facility with state-of-the-art spaces and updated technology. It provides an exciting place for faculty and students to teach and learn for years to come. I am proud to be an alumna.”