The Hermann Eye Fund provides care for indigent patients, training for students, and funding for new research projects.
The Hermann Eye Fund was created in 1968 as a tax-exempt foundation to help provide financial support for Hermann Hospital's ophthalmic programs. At that time, Richard S, Ruiz, MD, FACS, was Chief of the Hospital's Ophthalmology Service. In 1971, when The University of Texas Medical School at Houston was opened, Dr. Ruiz was named Professor and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology, and Hermann Hospital became the Medical School's teaching hospital. Subsequently, in 1977, Dr. Ruiz founded the Hermann Eye Center, one of the nation's most comprehensive eye care facilities, which occupies the 7th floor of the Hospital's Jones Pavilion. The laboratories and offices of The Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science are located in contiguous space on the 7th floor of the adjoining Medical School Building. The Hermann Eye Fund now serves the needs of The Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, as well as those of the Hermann Eye Center.
The Hermann Eye Center received start-up funds from The Cullen Foundation; Houston Endowment, Inc.; M. D. Anderson Foundation; and The Brown Foundation. During the past decade, the Hermann Eye Fund has been supported by organizations such as the Moody Foundation; Rockwell Fund, Inc.; John P. McGovern Foundation; J. M. West Texas Corporation; Vale-Ashe Ackerman Foundation; John S. Dunn Research Foundation; Abe and Rae Weingarten Fund; Hobby Foundation; The Children's Fund, Inc.; The William Stamps Parish Fund; Houston Delta Gamma Foundation, and individual donors too numerous to list here.
These gifts and grants from individuals, corporations, and foundations help underwrite the teaching, research, indigent patient care, and public service activities of the Department and the Eye Center. The Hermann Eye Fund maintains a library of current scientific and medical references, and purchases audiovisual materials and teaching aids for our residency program, as well as equipment for diagnosis, treatment, and research. Visiting professors of ophthalmology are brought to the Medical School and the Eye Center through the resources
of the Hermann Eye Fund, which also sponsors annually a one-month basic science course. This year's Basic Science Course, taught in February, had 67 participants. They came to Houston from the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico. The month-long course is for residents in training, is a refresher course for practitioners, and provides information about ophthalmology to allied health personnel. Lectures and lab sessions emphasize the application of basic scientific principles to clinical situations. Lecturers include physicians from The University of Texas Medical School at Houston Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and from other programs nationwide. Each teacher is a recognized leader in his or her own particular specialty.
Perhaps the most public aspect of the Hermann Eye Fund is the care we provide for indigent patients. When patients are unable to pay for their ophthalmic treatment, Hermann Eye Center physicians contribute their professional knowledge and services and the Hermann Eye Fund pays for the patients' hospital costs. This program of indigent patient care makes working partners of the Hermann Eye Center, the Hermann Eye Fund, and the donors whose contributions help make it possible for needy patients to receive treatment necessary to improve or preserve their vision.
Research is our hope for the future. At the Hermann Eye Center, this means basic laboratory and applied clinical research. New research projects are begun and completed continuously. The progression of certain diseases we see in patients daily reminds us acutely of our lack of knowledge and sends us in search of answers. The Hermann Eye Fund is a valuable resource for funding new projects, for completing current ones, for purchasing specialized equipment, and for funding research personnel.
You can see what a vital role the Hermann Eye Fund's tax-free dollars play in the operation of the Hermann Eye Center. With fewer tax dollars available for medical research and education, with spiraling health care costs, Medicare and Medicaid cutbacks, and one out of every four people in this country without health insurance, the role of the Hermann Eye Fund is of increasing importance.
Restored Vision for Maria
Maria came to us from San Jose Clinic which serves low income patients. Since the Ophthalmology Department has staffed this Clinic for some 40 years, many of their patients in need of surgery and who lack insurance come to the Robert Cizik Eye Clinic. Such was the case for Maria, who needed cataract surgery in both eyes but had no resources to pay for it.
Maria had been living alone and taking care of herself until two years ago. Her cataracts had developed to the point that she became legally blind. In February 2008, Dr. Lee Tran, a third year resident, with Dr. Ruiz staffing, performed cataract surgery on her right eye. One month later, her visual acuity was 20/25 with correction in the operated eye. With good vision in one eye, she has resumed independent living again. She is so very grateful for the help she received.
It is a wonderful experience to see the joy on the face of someone who the day after surgery discovers they can see again. With Maria's smile there were tears of joy.