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Vision restored for Woodbury seniors

Stonecrest Senior Living residents and Woodbury Rotary Club President Larry Propst (far left) huddle around the facility's new imaging station.

Most folks at Stonecrest Senior Living don't see as well as they once did.

"So many residents here have poor vision and macular degeneration," said resident Jeanne Musgrove.

Things like reading a newspaper or looking at photos become laborious tasks instead of relaxing activities when even squinting doesn't help bring things into focus.

But a new piece of technology means struggling to read is now a thing of the past for many Stonecrest residents.

About two months ago, the center installed a machine called an Optelec electronic video magnifier.

The machine functions similarly to microfiche machines, where film is dragged across a lighted magnification system. But in the case of the Optelec, users simply place any document - news clippings, instruction manuals, personal checks - on the machine and see an enlarged image that be moved around on its plate system for easy reading.

"It's so important," Musgrove said. "We have newspaper delivery that people cannot read without this. It's a very valuable machine to have."

The video magnifier came courtesy of the Woodbury Rotary Club, which donated the $3,000 unit to Stonecrest.

Rotary members were looking to make a community-oriented donation, and when they learned that past President Cork Wicker's mother-in-law - Musgrove - had expressed a need for such a device at Stonecrest, they jumped at the opportunity.

"It made sense to bring something to the community," said Rotary President Larry Propst. "It is, I think, going to be well used."

By the look of things, it already is.

The machine has even helped in non-reading ways, Musgrove noted. Members of Stonecrest's Nifty Needlers group have used it to ease stitching, she said.

"I'm definitely going down here using it," resident Kathy Klein said.

Stonecrest residents learned about the machine from Bob Borchert, who also lives there. Borchert has had a video magnifier in his unit for years, and sang its praises to members of Stonecrest's vision loss group.

"I couldn't get along without it," said Borchert, who uses his knowledge of the machine to train other residents. "You really need something like this to read anything at all.

"I couldn't write a check without this thing."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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