IOWA, Iowa (Reuters) – Iowa’s Eye and Ear Medicine Association (EYMA) is warning of an uptick in patients who are waiting months for eye care after the governor’s office canceled several eye care appointments on Thursday.
The state has had a shortage of eye care specialists since late April, when the state announced it would halt hiring of specialists for the next four months.
A report from the Eye and Hearing Association of Iowa (EYA) says the eye care shortage was a result of Governor Kim Reynolds’ decision to cut funding for the state’s health department and health care providers.
The Governor’s Office announced it was canceling several eye services and surgeries in Iowa on Thursday, according to a news release from the group.EYA President and CEO Dan Bower said the state is seeing an uptick of people needing eye care in the last few days of the month and that this is affecting the quality of the eye surgery and care.
“We have to make sure that the eye health of people is protected,” Bower told Reuters.
“If you do not make sure your eye health is protected, then the rest of us are going to suffer.”EYA says the decision to cancel eye care services is a result not only of the lack of specialists available but also because of the fact that the state has no statewide physician network.EYAA says the state will hire about 5,500 more health care workers to make up for the shortage of health care professionals.
It says the health department will offer about 5% more eye care to people with insurance and that health care centers will be able to expand capacity to meet the needs of more people.EYMA also says that the number of people seeking an eye care appointment has increased by nearly 20% this week.EYAMA says the shortage is expected to be resolved in the coming weeks.(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kevin Liffey)