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Northshore Health Director Named President of Mind-Eye

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”

The impact that the Mind-Eye Institute is having on patients’ lives is “miraculous,” and “I want to be a part of it.”

That’s why Zemen S. Abebe, BSN, MSN, longtime administrator for the Chicago area’s NorthShore University HealthSystem, has decided to join the Mind-Eye Institute in Northbrook, Ill. as its president, effective Aug. 5, 2019.

“I can only imagine what positive impact on the world the Mind-Eye Institute can have if its work is expanded and more optometrists trained in what Dr. Zelinsky is doing,” Abebe says.

She is referring to Deborah Zelinsky, OD, who is research director of the Mind-Eye Institute and internationally noted for her studies and clinical work on the retina and the retina’s impact on brain function.

“I have not known any person able to do what Dr. Zelinsky does, but her work is teachable. My goal is not only to help her organize and structure her practice, but to grow it, so that other optometrists can be trained and more patients able to benefit,” Abebe says.

Abebe is not new to health practice administration. She has nearly 30 years of experience in nursing and hospital administration. Since 2010, she has been serving as director of perioperative service at Skokie Hospital, which is part of the NorthShore University HealthSystem and located in Skokie, Ill.

Among Abebe’s achievements in the directorship role have been the planning and organization of both a surgical pavilion and an orthopaedic and spine-focused hospital at the Skokie Hospital campus, building of strong physician partnerships, establishment of an orthopaedic trauma program, participation in product-value-analysis teams, management of hospital accreditation visits from the Joint Commission and development of a highly competent, specialized surgical team.

She also has worked as a clinical nurse manager, case manager and urology team leader at Glenbrook Hospital, another facility in the NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Abebe says colleagues have expressed surprise at her willingness to move from a “secure, high-level medical center position” to a smaller practice like the Mind-Eye, but she contends that playing a key role in the Institute will be “self-fulfilling.”

“I am going to be part of something unique that touches people’s lives in many positive ways,” she says.

Abebe will be based at the Mind-Eye Institute offices at 1414 Techny Road, Northbrook.

Among the first important orders of business will be a search for new physical facilities to accommodate additional optometrists and the practice’s growing patient population.

Formerly called the Mind-Eye Connection, the clinic was formally established as an institute in 2018. Much of the Institute’s emphasis is on assisting patients in recovery from traumatic brain injury, stroke or symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. A percentage of Institute patients have learning issues and need to develop a more solid command of various visual skills. Others are simply hoping to enhance their visual efficiency so that they can use their peripheral and central eyesight in a more optimal way.

“All these patients are burdened by having to make energy-draining, conscious decisions that most people effortlessly make beneath a conscious level,” Dr. Zelinsky says.

For the past 30 years, Dr. Zelinsky has devoted her career to neuro-optometry, neuro-optometric rehabilitation and development of advanced methods for assessing brain function, with emphasis on the often-untested linkage between eye and ears. Her patented research in novel uses of retinal stimulation has been described in publications and courses worldwide.

She developed the Z-Bell Test℠, a simple, but revolutionary, method of checking a patient’s overall vision and the integration of visual processing with listening. The test has changed the lives of both pediatric and adult patients by allowing Dr. Zelinsky and her team to prescribe eyeglasses that normalize the balance between central and peripheral receptors in the retina, while improving the connection between eyes and ears.