Looking Out for the Uninsured

Jul 07, 2019 at 11:23 pm by Staff

.Ryan Schott, OD, contributes to Shepherd's Hope vision of care


"Everyone deserves to see better, and thus live better," said Ryan Schott, OD. Owner and operator of Kindred Optics in Maitland, he's also a passionate volunteer for Shepherd's Hope, providing vision solutions for uninsured and under-insured patients in Central Florida.

"Corrected vision and eye health play such a vital role in a person's ability to function at their best every day," said Schott. "In 2017, I learned about the incredible collective impact area doctors were making in people's lives through Shepherd's Hope and I volunteered immediately. I was surprised when I learned that I was the only optometrist in their Community Referral Provider Program. Alongside general practitioners, specialists in every field can make such a difference in our community by volunteering just one evening a month," he said.

"I grew up abroad, in a US Air Force family. I met so many different people and experienced a lot of different cultures. A common trait I found in so many people the world over is the willingness to help others who need a helping hand. As an optometrist, I can help people see their worlds better," he said.

Schott carries on his family's tradition of giving back to the community. His mother, Michele H. Schott, MSHA, MBA, FACHE, introduced him to Shepherd's Hope. A retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel and hospital administrator, she began her work with the non-profit as a volunteer; she is now a part-time team member, serving as health information management coordinator at the Longwood Health Center.

Dr. Schott sees patients at the Shepherd's Hope downtown location as well as at his practice in Maitland. He helps patients with primary vision care as well as ocular diseases including dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

As a volunteer provider, he has treated over 150 patients for Shepherd's Hope. By applying for and obtaining grants, he has expanded his impact even further. He obtained a grant from SALT Optics, a California-based eye glass company, for 100 pairs of eyeglasses for patients. "When others hear the tremendous impact that Shepherd's Hope is making in our Central Florida community, many are compelled to contribute in ways they can help, even from different geographic regions. It's truly people who make the difference in providing better health for everyone, including those down on their luck, facing a life crisis or combatting a disease. Together, we can change lives," he said.

?"The work of Shepherd's Hope is impressive statistically - they have provided over 250,000 primary care and specialty care patient visits to uninsured men, women and children in Central Florida. But what drives me to do more are the individuals I meet, seeing how my volunteering makes them see better, feel better and be a little better prepared to improve their lives," said Schott.

"It's heart-breaking to know that people in our community are suffering with ocular diseases just because they are uninsured or under-insured. Whether they just need their corrective vision prescription adjusted or they're experiencing a rare eye disorder, improving their vision improves their lives. I feel part of a bigger 'vision' with Shepherd's Hope, contributing my abilities to help people," he said.

Schott graduated from Nova Southeastern College of Optometry. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and the Central Florida Optometric Society. He completed a residency focusing on primary care and ocular disease at the Orlando Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He holds a BS in biology from Florida State University. He served in the Florida Air National Guard as a Structural Apprentice with the 125th FW in Jacksonville. He has received the VOLK Excellence in Ocular Disease Award and the Essilor Excellence in Dispensing of Ophthalmic Materials Award.

With the idea that "none of us knows how to do it all, but all of us know how to do some of it," Dr. William S. Barnes, senior pastor of St. Luke's United Methodist Church, founded Shepherd's Hope in 1997. The non-profit depends on volunteer physicians, nurses and other licensed health care professionals to provide quality health care for people in the community. It has grown to include service facilities in Longwood, East Orlando, Downtown Orlando, Ocoee and Winter Garden.

To learn more about volunteering with Shepherd's Hope, contact Abby Seelinger, volunteer program manager, at (407) 876-6699, ext. 233; abby@seelinger@shepherdshope.org; or visit www.shepherdshope.org/volunteers.