Vision Care Clinic Transforms Beloved Local Library into a New Space

By

Alex Benner, OD
BLAIR, Neb.—Vision Care Clinic was started over 40 years ago by Dr. Morris "Ike" Kuhlmann and now has 10 locations in western Iowa. Now owned by ODs Alex Benner, Steve Brownmiller, Scott Bowker and Keith Schrunk, the clinic has just moved its Blair location to a once beloved local library on 210 S 17th Street. The building, which has also been there for over 40 years, has been modified to fit its new function, but still remains a local treasure, with Vision Care Clinic’s patients appreciating the larger parking area compared to the limited one in the former location.

Dr. Benner has been practicing for about six and a half years and when it came to moving locations, he wanted to make sure that their new space would match their growing business’ needs. “For the last few years, I had been monitoring the commercial real estate market in Blair,” he told VMAIL Weekend. “The growth of our clinic along with the desire for better parking, more space and needing to update our existing location prompted us to explore other options.”

With the previous office located in a building with several other businesses and right on a heavily traveled main highway, the need for a new, larger space became imminent. “We started out utilizing one bay in the old building, but about three or four years ago we leased the adjacent bay to gain more square footage,” Dr. Benner explained. “We got more room, but it didn't necessarily help with patient flow.”

The new location, however, solves that problem. It’s twice the size of the previous space, and located one block off the main thoroughfare in town; it’s a free standing building with its own dedicated parking lot for patients and staff; and the open layout of the building has allowed the team to position exam rooms, testing rooms and the optical area in a way that is more patient and staff friendly.

The bigger space has also allowed Vision Care Clinic to double their exam rooms from two to four and has allowed them to implement equipment such as the Marco TRS-5100 automated phoropters. “Between the additional exam rooms, better office layout and increased efficiencies with the automated phoropters, the space allows us to increase daily patient encounters and most importantly continue to grow our brand,” Dr. Benner stated.

Because the Blair library is a local treasure, Dr. Benner also wanted to maintain some aspects of the old space. Vision Care Clinic preserved the library’s original brick flooring, 25-foot ceilings with pendulum lights in the entryway, the exposed brick scattered throughout the space and the transom windows that allow natural light to filter through.

  

Because of its history as a library, the new Vision Care Clinic has solicited some observations from patients. “I would say the number one comment has been how we transformed the 40-year-old library that many in the community grew up with and knew, into a completely different, professional space,” Dr. Benner stated. “A close second would be how much improved the parking is.”