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New optometry center to open next year in Ackerman

UCLA optometry center

3-5 weeks

Amount of time it currently takes students or faculty for an eye appointment through the Ashe Center

3-4 days

Amount of time it will take students or faculty for an eye appointment through the new center

$300,000

The tentative cost for the new optometry center

SOURCE: John Bollard, chief of administrative services at the Ashe Center

By Erin Donnelly and Fiona Kirby

May 13, 2013 12:05 a.m.

The Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center is partnering with Associated Students UCLA to open a new optometry center in Ackerman Union next year as part of an effort to expand and improve optometry services for students and faculty.

The optometry center will relocate from its current location, next to the pharmacy area in the Ashe Center.

The new center will take up about 1,500 square feet in the back corner of the student store, where gifts and cards are currently located, said John Bollard, chief of administrative services at the Ashe Center. The expanded space would also allow the Ashe Center to offer a wider selection of eyeglasses at lower prices that better fit a student’s budget.

The construction project, which will cost about $300,000, will begin around January 2014 and open in the summer or late spring that year, Bollard said.

The funds for the center will come from the Ashe Center’s surplus from the last several years and not from any funds that come directly from student fees, he said.

The center will offer eyeglasses for students with student health insurance, as well as for faculty members. But, students will receive priority when making appointments to accommodate their class schedules, Bollard said.

“The key for this thing is that it’s really student-centered,” Bollard said. “It allows us to keep the cost down for the students.”

About 20 percent of the cost of the University of California Student Health Insurance Plan is for optometry services – a service that is not at its highest potential right now, Bollard said.

The Ashe Center is still meeting with architects and campus facilities to finalize the construction and financial details, he said.

Bollard helped come up with the idea for the center a few years ago as a way to expand on the very limited space available for optometry in the Ashe Center.

Students currently have to wait three to five weeks for an eye exam appointment, Bollard said. The new center would cut that time down to about three to four days, he added.

Lisa Reyes, a second-year political science student, said she waited three weeks to get an appointment for a new pair of glasses and contacts with her UC SHIP. It took about a week more before she could purchase the glasses, Reyes said.

“I’d feel much better about only waiting three days,” she said.

Other students, such as first-year chemistry student Alex Tao, said that they do not mind the wait to get glasses through the Ashe Center.

“I don’t think anything optometry-wise is that urgent,” said Tao, who has gotten glasses through the Ashe Center.

ASUCLA officials also said they hope the new service will be beneficial for the rest of the store’s revenues.

“The (center) will be enclosed so it won’t disturb the rest of the store,” said Rich Delia, ASUCLA’s chief financial officer. “And the extra traffic will hopefully help the store.”

Once the current optometry center closes and the new optometry center opens, Ashe officials plan to expand the pharmacy, Bollard said.

With contributing reports from Anaika Miller, Bruin contributor.

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