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Hamilton Eye Institute Boasts New Entrance

The new fountain at HEI has been a welcome sight for patients arriving and leaving the campus.

Thanks to the generosity of one of UTHSC Hamilton Eye Institute’s (HEI) benefactors, the entrance of the comprehensive eye care center on Madison Avenue on the UTHSC campus has a new look.

The recently completed project at HEI features a new fountain with water cascading over a backlit logo of the institute. Along with the fountain, a new pedestrian plaza was constructed with a wood-deck walkway, done in a checkerboard design that mimics the end zone of Neyland Stadium.

The new fountain has been a welcome sight for patients arriving and leaving the campus.

The upgrade was made possible by a gift from philanthropist and University of Tennessee, Knoxville alumnus David D. “Mickey” Coleman, who envisioned the fountain years before his passing in 2014. He gave it to UT in honor of his mother.

“I got to know Mickey during my time as the vice chair of the department,” said James Fleming, MD, FACS, chair emeritus of the UTHSC College of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology. “The Hamilton Eye Institute family got to take care of Mickey Coleman for a few years in his later life.”

What started off as a patient relationship, soon turned into friendship for Coleman and those at HEI from whom he received care, including the late Barrett Haik, MD, who served as director of HEI and worked for more than 20 years to transform the Department of Ophthalmology into the world-class Institute that the HEI is today. “Dr. Haik has been able to tell me so much about my health from just an eye exam,” Coleman once said.

Mickey Coleman soon formed a solid friendship with Dr. Haik along with many other doctors and employees of the Hamilton Eye Institute. He developed a passion for the Hamilton Eye Institute and for the ability to help patients with vision issues. “Often, you get somebody who is a grateful patient,” Dr. Fleming said. “Mickey Coleman became a great friend, and when he got to know everybody, he became very engaged in the mission of the Hamilton Eye Institute.” He wanted to help promote the HEI and spread the news about the positive work being done there.

“Mickey Coleman was a man who was larger than life. He enjoyed life to the fullest and he enjoyed an even larger circle of friends who loved him. We are so grateful that he made the Hamilton Eye a part of his life and of his passions,” Dr. Fleming said.

Coleman became a generous benefactor to the institute, donating toward its mission of providing advanced-level eye care in the Mid-South. Among his numerous contributions, he also established the David D. Coleman Endowment and the David D. Coleman Endowed Professorship in Transplantation Research.

His generosity has paved the way for improvements to HEI facilities, advanced clinical and research programs, and expanded outreach efforts.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, HEI has remained open to serve the community. “Unlike intensive care units and hospitals, much of eye care is outpatient care,” Dr. Fleming said, “So you have to build something that allows that to be done and to continue. The beauty of the Hamilton Eye Institute is it works in tandem with all the major hospitals in the city.”

The Hamilton Eye Institute is currently open for urgent and emergency eye care by appointment only. Please call 901.448.6650 for more information or to make an appointment.