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Stories of Resilience: Closing the Doors for the First Time in 45 Years

By Robert Melrose, OD March 22, 2021

Nothing has had a greater impact on our profession than this pandemic. It changed the landscape of eye care across this country. Everyone was impacted by it. It brought eye care to a standstill. If this wasn’t a wakeup call to what can happen on a given day to change our lives, nothing else could be.

Last year, we had to lock our doors for the first time in 45 years. We’ve always had people there–even with doctors on vacation, there was always someone available to see patients. Having to turn people away was disconcerting to say the least.

What did we do? We learned from it. As I see it, the pandemic taught us creativity; it taught us to address problems in a different light, in a different way than we would have if not forced to.

We have 11 doctors in our practice--we learned to brainstorm, to share ideas and come up with ways to care for our patients despite these obstacles. And, our staff was incredible--they orchestrated curbside dispensing events to safely provide glasses to patients in need, while at the same time raising the spirits of people who hadn’t felt comfortable leaving their homes.

Through this process, we were able to connect with our patients on a new level, and convey that they are not just eyeballs, not just a revenue stream. They are people we spend our lives with and genuinely care for. Reopening felt amazing—it was incredible to get to care for our patients in the same way we have for 45 years.

What does the future hold? We don’t know. But what we have learned during this pandemic is that whatever comes around the bend, we can take it, we can make it work, and we can do it in a way that makes people happy and proud to be our patients.

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