A Letter From the CEO
To our employees, patients, families, supporters, friends, and community,
It has been slightly more than a year since the global pandemic descended upon us and drastically changed our professional, social, and personal lives. When the Dallas County Health Department issued the stay-at-home orders, our leadership team and the Board of Directors met and made the difficult call to temporarily close both the Center for Vision Health and Dallas Day School. The overriding focus was the safety and well-being of those we serve, our staff and the community-at-large.
During the 6 weeks of closure, many Dallas Day School teachers stayed in touch with the students and families via Facetime, Zoom or other digital means. The Board of Directors and Leadership teams continued to meet virtually, throughout the closure to develop guidelines for re-opening. During this period, we took the opportunity to have both the Center for Vision Health and Dallas Day School thoroughly cleaned and deeply sanitized. We continue our sanitization protocols at both facilities on a daily basis.
Through the generosity of our families, supporters and our community, Dallas Services (Center for Vision Health and Dallas Day School) did not have to furlough a single employee. We were able to continue full pay and benefits during the closure.
Six weeks later, both programs re-opened on a limited basis. The Center for Vision Health began strategic scheduling so that social distancing and extra sanitizing between patients could occur. Dallas Day School extended its hours of operation to accommodate the families of first responders. DDS also implemented curbside drop-off and pick-up. Once the stay-at-home order expired, the Center for Vision Health continued with strategic scheduling and families returned to Dallas Day School. The Center for Vision Health was fortunate in that the number of patients served decreased by only 14%. Many early childhood education centers were forced to close permanently. As a testament to the quality, Dallas Day School’s enrollment decreased by only 25%. Today, the Center for Vision Health is increasing the number of patients served and more families are entrusting their children to Dallas Day School. Due to the dedication and hard work of our wonderful staff, our organization is stronger and we expect to exceed pre-COVID operations by the end of the summer!
During this unprecedented time, the Center for Vision Health received more than $1 million in funding from Crystal Charity Ball and other community foundations, to open a second vision clinic in South Dallas. A lease has been signed and the clinic will open across the street from a medical hub that includes Children’s Health, a Parkland Hospital clinic, and UT Southwestern in the re-developed Red Bird Mall.
Over the past year, our Americorp VISTA volunteers have provided pivotal and strategic assistance in helping us navigate a path to sustainability for the Center for Vision Health.
Over the past year we have:
- Completed a rebranding of the Low Vision Clinic to better reflect the scope of services provided to our patients; we are now the Center for Vision Health
- Analyzed local population data to ensure that the decision to expand the clinic was based upon accurate and timely information
- Created new websites for the Center for Vision Health and the Dallas Day School
- Initiated focused efforts to strengthen or establish partnerships throughout the community; to date more than 320 nonprofit agencies have been contacted
- Established a Senior Vision Coalition comprised of DFW gerontology professionals to focus on the unique vision needs of older adults
- Created a social media presence for both the Center for Vision Health and the Dallas Day School
- Developed vision resource guides for children, adults and vision technology; one for seniors is in development
- Built a library of educational vision health videos to share on our social media platforms
- Worked with JPMorgan Chase’s Force for Good technology team to develop an online marketplace for low vision devices as part of our new Center for Vision Health website; this online store will launch in July
Although COVID-19 continues to be an issue throughout the country, I can’t help but be overcome with pride when I see what our remarkable organization and community accomplished during the most challenging period of my professional life. Dallas Services and its programs, the Center for Vision Health and Dallas Day School, have an incredible staff and amazing volunteers. Their dedication and hard work are unsurpassed. Our community has responded with strength and generosity, and enabled Dallas Services and our local nonprofits to continue providing services to those in need.
I am forever grateful and eagerly anticipating the great things on the horizon. Thank you for your faith in our services and your continued support.
Dr. Thomas Turnage Chief Executive Officer