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Eye Institute adds premiere Wilson County practice

BY: JESSICA PASLEY

9/01/2011 - The Vanderbilt Eye Institute (VEI) is expanding its presence into Wilson County, the fastest-growing county in Tennessee and among the top 100 fastest growing counties in the country.

Lebanon Eye Associates, one of the premiere eye practices in the state, has been a fixture of Wilson County for more than 20 years. The three-physician and one optometrist practice joined VEI effective Sept. 1.

“This represents an opportunity for VEI and for Vanderbilt as a whole to expand its footprint east of the city,” said Paul Sternberg, M.D chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Vanderbilt and director of VEI.

“Over the years, we have established personal and professional relationships with this group, which makes the incorporation of this practice a very comfortable fit.

“This new venture will fully integrate the Lebanon practice into VEI while expanding the scope of Vanderbilt ophthalmology services to the eastern tri-county region,” Sternberg said.

The Vanderbilt Eye Institute at Lebanon will also include satellite clinics in Smithville, Carthage and Lafayette.

VEI’s newest faculty members include Kirk Bowles, M.D., Randolph Evans, M.D., F.A.C.S., William Schenk, M.D., and optometrist Fred Davis, O.D.

“We are excited about joining a world class eye institute,” said Evans. “We have been discussing this for four years. All of our doctors and the rest of our staff will be joining Vanderbilt.

“We are looking forward to participating in cutting-edge research that is currently ongoing at Vanderbilt as well as avail ourselves of the teaching aspects,” said Evans. “Our mission has always been to provide high quality eye care for the people of Wilson County and the surrounding communities.”

Starting this month, VEI retina specialists will begin seeing patients on a weekly basis at the Lebanon site only. Plans call for additional subspecialty coverage in the future.

In 2010, VEI had 113,000 patient visits. With the additional clinic sites, patient volume is expected to increase by 25,000.

With clinics throughout the region – Bellevue, Franklin, Spring Hill, Murfreesboro, Lawrenceburg, Tullahoma, Smithville, Carthage, Lafayette and Bowling Green, KY, as well as provider services in hospitals in Johnson City and Chattanooga - VEI solidifies itself as the largest, most comprehensive ophthalmology practice in the region.

“My vision is for VEI to be able to provide high quality and easily accessible eye care to patients in our region,” said Sternberg. “With the continued growth of VEI, we will be able to provide additional educational opportunities for our residents and fellows who will have expanded exposure to a community-based model of comprehensive ophthalmology.”

Sternberg and Evans also agreed that the expanded patient base will enhance VEI’s patient enrollment in clinical trials evaluating investigational treatments for various conditions including glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration.

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