Taking the imaging system
to the far reaches of Texas
Without a specially equipped mobile unit to travel the highways and byways of South Texas, the ophthal-
mology department's remote eye imaging system would be of little practical benefit. How would it serve an elderly person in Tilden, 80 miles south of San Antonio, or a child in Eagle Pass on the U.S.-Mexico border? Farther south on the Rio Grande, how would it help a young breadwinner in the growing city of Laredo?
These questions have been answered, thanks to the Lions Clubs of South Texas and the H-E-B Grocery Company. These two partners provided more than $100,000 apiece for a 40-foot-long Bluebird bus chassis to patrol the state's southern reaches. The remote imaging system is located in the mobile unit's back room.
The vehicle bears the Lions seal and H-E-B logo and is operated by Lions staff and volunteers. Such an endeavor supports Lions International's long-standing battle against blinding diseases and extends H-E-B's record of active community involvement.
Aboard the mobile unit, individuals receive visual acuity checks and measurements of intraocular (eye) pressure. Elevated pressure in the eye is an indicator of the blinding eye disease glaucoma.
The unit also houses a research station where scientists may gather data on conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, the South Texas/Border Region Health Education Initiative, a legislative program to enhance health education activities in South Texas, is providing $290,450 over two years for teaching programs associated with the van. The activities are centered in eight counties in the Mid Rio Grande Valley, including cities such as Laredo and Eagle Pass.
The bus travels 21 counties in Lions District 2-A2, which extends from Fredericksburg south to Laredo and from Del Rio east to George West. The unit was dedicated at the District 2-A2 convention in Kerrville earlier this year and was officially unveiled at H-E-B headquarters in San Antonio.
"We have an assigned person in each of the 76 clubs in the region who coordinates and schedules the screenings in his or her area," said Chris Lloyd of Kerrville, the immediate past District 2-A2 governor. He was hired by the Lions Sight Research Foundation to be the driver/operator/manager of the mobile unit.
"When the unit is scheduled to go to a town, the coordinator will see to it that the proper facilities, utilities and volunteers are lined up, and that announcements are placed in the local papers," he said. "Lions members are being trained to help individuals move through the screening process. Lions also are conducting registration and exit interviews, and perhaps most importantly, are identifying people in the community ahead of time who might need this service."
The Bluebird bus chassis includes a pair of 15-kilowatt generators that power the imaging system, and modem connections required for computer interface. The mobile unit also contains four air conditioners and individual lighting at each of the six testing stations. Hardware has been installed on its roof for satellite dish transmission and reception. A ramp is available for use by the disabled.
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