Despite COVID, Our Vision Remains Clear

Give Kids Sight Day is PCCY’s annual hallmark event. It not only draws attention to the failure of the Commonwealth to provide CHIP coverage for all children (as they falsely claim to), but hundreds of PCCY volunteers along with Wills Eye Hospital, the Eagles Charitable Foundation, and our amazing partner Essilor Foundation (who manufacture the glasses) typically provide free vision care to over a thousand children and supply two pairs of glasses to every child that needs them free of charge.

Last year, 4-year-old Parrin became the 10,000th child served in our decade of Give Kids Sight Day.

While we continue to work to change the state legislation that bars undocumented children from CHIP coverage, a blunder that puts children’s lives at risk, wastes millions of dollars, and crowds hospital emergency rooms needlessly, the need for days of free health care, like Sight Day or its springtime sister event for dental care, Give Kids a Smile, couldn’t be more dire.

Pandemic? Well, yes, that’s a new challenge.  

But where there’s a Wills, there’s a way.

With safety foremost in everyone’s minds, the Sight Day community is busy at work designing the best possible event to help as many children (and weary parents) as we can.

Wills Eye Hospital is adapting their telehealth services for Sight Day to provide a “Telehealth-a-thon” for initial vision screenings. Instead of hundreds of families lined up around the block, PCCY will mail out eye charts to homes, and remote screeners will guide parents how to set up the chart at the appropriate distance and conduct vision screenings. Typically, half of all children we see need a follow-up exam at Wills Eye Hospital—we expect the same this year.

As luck would have it, PCCY’s push to ensure all public school students in Philly have at least Chromebooks for virtual learning will mean nearly every child will have the technological means for these telehealth services.  

While COVID restrictions will likely reduce the number of children seen to about half of our typical capacity, no child will be turned away and we’ll make sure that those we can’t accommodate that day will find free, quality care that fits their schedule.

After ten years, we can do no less. As we prepare for our remote phone bank opening on September 21st to make appointments, we are doubling our efforts to reach uninsured children to make sure we make the most of Sight Day this year to help kids with the greatest need get the care they deserve.  

We are so grateful to our major funders who make Sight Day possible, including Hess Foundation, Spark Therapeutics, Vision to Learn, and Philadelphia Health Partnership. Finally, because we mentioned Give Kids A Smile, we would be remiss if we didn’t thank DentaQuest for honoring our Health Policy Director Colleen McCauley and the PCCY team by including us in their list of 2020 Health Equity Heroes. 

“As the pandemic closed schools and daycare centers and put parents either out of work or required them to work overtime at essential jobs, the PCCY team refocused to meet needs of distressed clients. They homed in on the health, legal and financial needs of these clients who had no savings, could not pay rent, had no means of replacing the meals children received at school or daycare and were often too scared to get necessary health care when ill.”

We are all so grateful for this recognition and especially grateful to PCCY supporters who make all of our work possible.

Don’t let the pandemic stop kids from getting the vision care they need! Sign up to volunteer for the Give Kids Sight Day remote phone bank to make appointments for kids!

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Betsy DeVos is now arguing COVID-19 pandemic is ultimately a “good thing” for U.S. public education.

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