The Power of Community at the Illinois Eye Institute

To me, one of the most important aspects of the Illinois Eye Institute (IEI) is that we offer eye care to those with all levels of insurance, including those with none. We serve patients to ensure that they can receive care by doing things such as setting up payment plans or enrolling them in a program that offers free or reduced care. Among our commitment to help all members of the community is the diabetes support group, which is free to anyone - diabetic or not - who wishes to attend.

When I began my service year with NHC Chicago and IEI Diabetic Eye Clinic, there were many aspects of my service that I looked forward to. Part of my position is to plan and lead these support group meetings. At first, I didn't give the task too much thought since meetings occur only once a month. However, as I now approach my fifth meeting of the year, I have found myself spending a lot of time planning the afternoon and am greatly looking forward to it.  

Listening to the meeting attendees share their stories, offer advice, and form a community of support has been one of the most meaningful aspects of my service thus far. I underestimated the power that a monthly meeting could have on the individual lives of our patients. At our last meeting, a woman who has been attending the support group since September shared the results from her last visit to the doctor. She announced that since she began coming to the meetings, her A1C, blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart rate had all gone down and were now within a healthy range. She attributed her success to the support group and stated that the community and resources she has received through the group has given her this motivation. Seeing the impact of my service and the tangible effects that it has had on patients was really meaningful. It has left me even more motivated to continue working hard within my service year. I am not only excited to continue seeing the progress of our group, but also extremely thankful to be part of such a wholesome and supportive community here at IEI

This blog post was written by NHC Chicago 2019-20 member Atiya Dosani.

Atiya is an Outreach Coordinator at Illinois Eye Institute Diabetes Eye Care Center.