BEND AREA — Christmas came early for the Mason County school nurses Monday when they were presented grant money for a new handheld vision screening device.
The presentation was made by Stephen Littlepage and Wetzel “Doc” Fields on behalf of the Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation. Accepting the check was Samantha Knapp, school nurse at both New Haven Elementary School and Wahama High School, who wrote the grant application.
According to Littlepage, president of the Claflin Foundation, this is the second vision screener the foundation has purchased for the schools. The first is based in Leon, although it is used throughout the county.
Littlepage stated the second screener will now be based in the northern end, but will also be used countywide. He added having a second unit will enable nurses easier access and the ability to screen more children.
Knapp said the screener looks much like a digital camera, and when held up in front of a child’s eyes, automatically scans them. Results either conclude that the child passed the screening, or a complete eye examination is recommended.
“It takes less than 30 seconds,” Knapp said. “It is especially good for kids who have disabilities such as autism, those with communication difficulties, or pre-schoolers who think I’m taking their picture.”
Currently, the six school nurses are spreading the one unit among the county’s 4,500 students, Knapp said. She added having the second scanner will allow entire school populations to be screened. Presently, children are only screened upon enrollment, in kindergarten, third grade, and sixth grade.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.