Article Date: 8/1/2002

reflections: THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
Angels of Optometry
A life-changing experience proves to one O.D. the true strength of his profession.
ROBERT W. POWELSON, O.D.

While attending our mid-winter optometric meeting in Charleston, W. Va., I became ill with the flu and found myself in bed for several days trying to shake the "bug." I not only had trouble lifting my head off of the pillow, but I also awoke several nights with intense shortness of breath. To my amazement, I found that the virus weakened an apparently already damaged mitral valve in my heart that required surgery. In addition to the shock of needing the open-heart procedure was the realization that I would be out of the practice for 2 to 3 months!

O.D.s to the rescue

During the pre-surgical phase of my treatment (and much to my surprise), two close optometric and personal friends organized office coverage for the postoperative convalescent period. It wasn't until after my surgery that I realized, however, that there were over 20 area colleagues who volunteered their services in my office to care for my patients! Several manned the office for half days, while others gave one to several full days. These were all coordinated with my office staff, who were scheduled as normal.

ILLUSTRATION BY PHIL HOWE

Grateful for a dedicated bunch

If you've ever worked in someone else's office, I'm sure you know how awkward the arrangement can make you feel. One of the friends covering for me in my office explained it to me as follows: "It's like walking into someone else's kitchen and trying to cook a meal!" You find yourself fumbling around trying to acquaint yourself with the setup and instrumentation, all the while trying to provide friendly and efficient service to the patients.

The two gentlemen who organized the coverage of my practice for me were Drs. Harry M. Murray, Jr. and Joseph Audia. These two, along with other North-Central West Virginia optometrists, unselfishly gave of themselves to aid a colleague in need. (And these folks all have busy, successful practices of their own -- but they still came to Shinnston to help out.) The real point of this story is the strength of our profession. I don't know any other group or profession that would give so much and to this extent to help another.

The others whom I wish to thank (aside from my wife, my daughters and my family) are my office personnel. They're more than just my employees -- they're also my friends. The staffs of both offices are all dedicated and concerned about my personal health as well as the success of the practice -- even in my absence. Every doctor who covered my offices commented on how friendly, courteous and helpful the staffs were.

Optometry West Virginia style

I've always felt fortunate to live and practice optometry in West Virginia, but after my recent experience, I now realize how truly blessed I am. If you don't think optometry is alive and well, then come to "Almost Heaven" (West Virginia) and I'll prove it to you. My thanks also to: Phil Wilmoth, Gino Abbruzzino, Cheryl Van Horn, Puggy Farmer, Jim Selario, Frank DeMarino, Craig Hyre, Joe Trupo, Larry Williams, Craig Liebig, Jeff Gates, Keith Wade, David Laughlin, Hank Murray, Greg Groves, Laura Steiner Christy, Dan Farnsworth, Greg Brannon and Bill Tomasik.

DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH KAREN RODEMICH, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT AT (215) 643-8135 OR RODEMICHKF@BOUCHER1.COM.

 


Optometric Management, Issue: August 2002