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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Academics & Research

Center draws eyes to UH

Nurse Paula Jones and Clinical Manager Aaron Thibodeaux work with multiple machines like this Lasik surgery instrument. |  Tara Gonzales/The Daily Cougar

Nurse Paula Jones and Clinical Manager Aaron Thibodeaux work with multiple machines like this Lasik surgery instrument. | Tara Gonzales/The Daily Cougar

The Vision Source Ambulatory Surgical Center housed in the Health and Biomedical Sciences Building, which opened in early February, is one of only 50 centers in the United States.

The center is owned by the College of Optometry and provides classes for its students. It provides all ambulatory surgical procedures such as cataract surgery, muscle work surgery, glaucoma surgery and cornea transplant surgery.

It is the only ambulatory surgery center in Houston that is licensed to provide bladeless cataract surgery.

“There are only two of these cataract bladeless machines in the city, and we have one of them. This bladeless surgery helps the eye heal faster because the wound architecture is perfect in that it enables the healing process to be better and seal the wound better,” said Aaron Thibodeaux, clinical manager at VSASC.

VSASC is an open facility and accepts all patients and is willing to hire any qualified surgeon that meets the criteria.

The center is also a unique setting in the U.S. because UH’s optometry students have the opportunity to get firsthand training on pre-operative and post-operative evaluation of the surgical patient.

“The students are also being trained to work in a co-management relationship with the ophthalmologist to help facilitate pre-op and post-op evaluations for the ophthalmologist and surgical care of that patient,” said Marilyn Christian, the clinical administrator at VSASC. “The students just can’t perform the surgery.”

VSASC is a licensed service that provides the same type of service in any other ambulatory surgical facility. The inside of the clinical area mimics the inside of what a hospital would be but even nicer looking.

“We are even better than a hospital because here we have each bay (or) patient post-operation area, walled off for maximum privacy for our patients,” Thibodeaux said. “If you go to another hospital or surgery center, the most you might see for privacy is a curtain in between each bay.”

The new center also includes storage lockers for patients who have items they need to store before surgery, a pharmacy where the clinical area stores their drugs for the different surgeries, storage areas, a designated instrument cleaning facility, two surgery rooms and much more.

However, VSASC has done a handful of surgeries since they have opened in February because their Medicare certification is still pending. This can be a long process for any medical facility.

Biology senior Ta’Coya Le said having this covetable center at UH makes perfect sense.

“I can see how this new surgery center in the new vision institute can only help the College of Optometry even more,” Le said. “UH has one of the top optometry schools in the nation. We deserve the best.”

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