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UA ophthalmology department gets new state-of-the-art facility


Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat

ROBERT SNYDER Opthamology department head

By Blake Smith
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 25, 2000
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The University of Arizona's department of ophthalmology, dedicated its new state-of-the-art facility yesterday, complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of more than sixty donor Lions Club members.

The Arizona Lions Eye Care and Howard A. Shiff Diagnostic Center officially opened its doors after the ribbon-cutting, which included speeches by UA President Peter Likins and ophthalmology department head Dr. Robert Snyder.

"We are here to celebrate human sight, the preservation of (eye care) health centers and philanthropic organizations like the Lions Club," Likins told the crowd.

Lions Clubs from around the world contributed a "large amount of money" to the $549,000 project, which moved the ophthalmology's facility from cramped facilities on North Campbell Avenue to spacious accommodations on North Alvernon Way, Snyder said.

"We desperately needed the space," Snyder added.

The new facility is more than 13,000 square feet, compared to 6,000 square feet at the department's old home.

Snyder said the move was needed because the center has grown from 6,000 to 28,000 patients over the past 10 years. The center has a patient base that reaches into Northern Mexico.

In the new facility, patients who need more than one test done will not be forced to move from room to room, according to a pamphlet distributed at the celebration. A rotating table will bring the testing equipment to them.

Accompanying the move to the new facility is the LASIK Eye Center, which performs corrective vision surgery.

The new location eliminated academic office space by creating room across the street from the new facility.

The design for the center was developed from suggestions by the faculty and doctors.

Design techniques were also taken from the University of Wisconsin's eye care facility.

The center was envisioned by Howard A. Shiff, a general contractor and member of the local Lions Club.

Shiff's son, Sandy, said his father "had a vision for helping other people."

"If he was here today, he would be speechless for the first time in his life," Sandy Shiff said. "This center proves that dreams can come true."

Howard Shiff, who died before the center was built, brought together resources from the department of ophthalmology, the Lions Clubs and individual donors to make the Arizona Lions Eye Care and Howard A. Shiff Diagnostic Center a reality.

"The ribbon that was cut today is a starting line, not a finish line," Sandy Shiff added.

Blake Smith can be reached at city@wildcat.arizona.edu

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