Stepping Up to Help Patients In Need!
The ASCRS Foundation is grateful for the many Operation Sight volunteers who have jumped back in to accept patients in need. Namely, Reena N. Patel, MD at Wichita Vision Institute, PA, has stepped up to restore sight to patients as her practice reopens. We were able to connect with Dr. Patel about her experiences thus far with the pandemic, and why she was so able to resume charitable cataract surgeries so soon. Please find Dr. Patel’s interview below:
What have been the greatest challenges to your practice due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Dr. Patel: Our greatest challenge has been finding a balance between keeping our patients and staff safe, while still administering the continual care so many of our patients require. Someone’s eyesight is not something that can “just wait until COVID is over.” We have many patients that require frequent check-ups and to miss or postpone a visit could have a significant impact on their vision long-term. For my practice, telemedicine is not really a great option as we need patients to be in office to get patient data in order to obtain necessary images such as optic nerve pictures, visual fields, IOL master, etc. and that all requires patient-practice contact. We offered telemedicine during the time we were closed due to COVID-19 and not one patient took advantage of the telemedicine option.
Despite these stresses to your practice, what drives your practice to jump back in and support Operation Sight patients in need?
Dr. Patel: Ophthalmology and eye care is our PASSION. We want to make quality eye care an option for everyone and Operation Sight helps us do that. We understand that necessary eye care is an essential part in assuring a positive quality of life for our patients and we want to be able to extend that opportunity to those in need.
What advice do you have for practices that are beginning to re-open and are thinking about participating with Operation Sight?
Dr. Patel: Get to it! We treat Operation Sight patients exactly like we do the rest of our patient family. Again, someone’s eyesight isn’t going to wait until COVID-19 is over. We are learning that COVID-19 is not going to be over for some time so no time like the present to get started. The reward that you get from helping someone truly in need helps make you remember why you went into ophthalmology in the first place.
Why do you participate with Operation Sight?
Dr. Patel: Operation Sight helps us make quality eye care an option for everyone and connects us with patients who we would otherwise be unaware are in need of care. I think the thing that is the most rewarding is the overflow of gratitude we see from our Operation Sight patients. Many of them have sought care previously, sometimes for years, before connecting with Operation Sight and to be able to help those patients finally get the care they need and see the gratitude they have is wonderful.
To learn more about how to volunteer with Operation Sight, please click here. For all Operation Sight- related inquiries, please contact Jaya Minhas, Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. Operation Sight continues to screen patients, if you know of a patient in need, please direct them to our patient inquiry form.