Meridian Health Services will close our urgent care offices today at 5 PM. Our priority is our patients and staff's safety during the snowstorm. Our Anderson, Ft Wayne, and Muncie MeridianMD locations will also close at 5 PM. We extended hours today and are working to get scheduled patients moved up on our providers' schedules.
We truly appreciate your understanding. Stay safe!
Every January, The National Eye Institute (NEI) sponsors National Glaucoma Awareness MonthThis link is external to health.gov. to spread the word about Glaucoma, the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States.
Half of people with glaucoma don’t know they have it. Get a healthy start this year by learning about glaucoma and taking steps to reduce your risk of vision loss!
Know the Facts About Glaucoma
- Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and even blindness.
- About 3 million Americans have glaucoma. It is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.
- Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, results in increased eye pressure. There are often no early symptoms, which is why 50% of people with glaucoma don’t know they have the disease.
- There is no cure (yet) for glaucoma, but if it’s caught early, you can preserve your vision and prevent vision loss. Taking action to preserve your vision health is key.
Know Your Glaucoma Risk
Anyone can get glaucoma, but certain groups are at higher risk. These groups include African Americans over age 40, all people over age 60, people with a family history of glaucoma, and people who have diabetes. African Americans are 6 to 8 times more likely to get glaucoma than whites. People with diabetes are 2 times more likely to get glaucoma than people without diabetes.
Take Action to Prevent Vision Loss
There are many steps you can take to help protect your eyes and lower your risk of vision loss from glaucoma.
- If you are in a high-risk group, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam to catch glaucoma early and start treatment. Prescription eye drops can stop glaucoma from progressing. Your eye care specialist will recommend how often to return for follow-up exams. Medicare covers a glaucoma test once a year for people in high-risk groups.
- Even if you are not in a high-risk group, getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam by the age of 40 can help catch glaucoma and other eye diseases early.
- Open-angle glaucoma does not have symptoms and is hereditary, so talk to your family members about their vision health to help protect your eyes—and theirs.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure, being physically active, and avoiding smoking will help you avoid vision loss from glaucoma. These healthy behaviors will also help prevent type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Urgent need and great impact: FosterHope supports children awaiting families
In 2020, more than 210,000 children under 18 entered foster care in the United States. On average, children remain in state care for more than a year and a half, and 5 percent of children in foster care have languished there five or more years, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
In Indiana, the story is no different.
“There is an exorbitant need for foster parents
in the state of Indiana,” said Julie Roe, Foster Care Specialist with Meridian’s FosterHope program. “There are about 13,000 children in our state foster care system, many waiting for a home. Yet, there are roughly only 6,200 licensed parents.”
FosterHope is a specialized foster care program for Indiana children in need of emotional, behavioral, or mental health support. It is one of the few foster programs in Indiana that specializes in the needs of children with behavioral issues.
Connecting children with foster parents trained to meet those needs, FosterHope provides hope and support for some of the state’s most vulnerable children. Foster parents share their home and hearts with a child who needs patience, understanding, comfort and love, while also demonstrating good parenting skills for the child’s family.
A chance encounter at work was the catalyst for foster mom Amanda Dirkhising.
“I work at a credit union and one day a customer was telling me about getting licensed through FosterHope,” said Dirkhising.
“My husband and I had always been interested in being foster parents, but that was the day we decided to start the journey.”
After completing the licensing process, The Dirkhisings were matched with two sisters – a toddler and a pre-teen – who have been with the family for more than a year now. In that time, the
family has enjoyed holidays, school activities, and group outings with fellow FosterHope families.
Meridian’s expertise means FosterHope families have the medical and psychological support that goes along with everyday living, as well as care management support that goes well beyond determining placement.
The Dirkhisings have access to Meridian Health Services’ child psychiatrists, behavioral clinicians, therapists, and medical physicians. Foster parents in the program also have access to behavioral support, crisis intervention and emergency respite 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The need for foster parents is urgent, and the impact is great. Mary Grey, FosterHope administrative manager, wants potential parents to remember that perfection isn’t required – or even possible.
“There is no such thing as a perfect foster parent,” said Grey. “You do not have to be perfect to be a great match for these children.”
Dirkhising agrees, and believes the key to foster parenting is having an open heart.
“To me, a good foster parent is someone who goes into it being accepting, patient and loving. Someone who is trying to make a difference in the child’s life that comes into their home, no matter how long they are actually there.”
To learn more about FosterHope, or submit an application, call 866-306-2647.
FOSTERHOPE TEAM. From left: Julie Roe, Foster Care Specialist; Emily Williamson, Program Manager of Children’s Services; Hope Paul, Behavioral Clinician; Christopher Marker, Adoption Specialist; Mary Grey, Foster Administrative Manager and Rae Benedict, Intern.