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President's Report

Insight 2nd quarter 2020

President's Report

First, I want to thank your FOA board of trustees, staff, and legislative team for their tireless dedication and hours of work. It has been their team effort that enabled us to continue to fulfill our mission without missing a step. Your board knew the task was to put members first by gathering and communicating the most pertinent and factual information available so Florida optometrists could do their best to develop a path through the situation at hand.

Second, I want to take an opportunity to thank you, our members. While facing the harsh reality of seeing the practices you worked so hard to build close, as well as furloughing employees or even decreasing hours to the point of barely paying expenses, you stayed with us. You trusted the FOA to be your source of information. Whether it was our continuous stream of emails, countless responses to our questionnaires, or the direct calls myself and the board fielded through the last couple of months, your loyalty proved valuable.

I began this year as I ended the last, traveling the state to share the association’s message, recruit new members, and hear about member needs. As news began to surface that COVID-19 was being seen in the United States, as they say, all hell broke loose. But through the crisis it became clear that optometry required a voice.

Our voice communicated, and legislative leadership agreed that optometrists are “essential providers" and, as such, no executive order caused optometrists to close their offices. Next, we fought to ensure that optometrists were not excluded from the federal Payment Protection Program. In spite of rumors that we were not to be included for COVID-19 financial aid, we were assured by Senator Marco Rubio that optometrists would be included as eligible to receive needed financial assistance. (Watch the video Senator Rubio posted on his Instagram page that night. It can be viewed on our floridaeyes.org COVID-19 Resource page. He specifically mentions optometry at the two minute, fifty-four second mark.)

No one could have seen this coming six months ago, and the life we knew may never return. As some render patient care for the first time since the shut down or others open to more regular care, there are so many things to say. The most important of which is to stay diligent every day. Stay diligent in your routine to prescreen patients, clean your office from top to bottom using the CDC guidelines, and use the proper PPE. Remain highly involved with your family, community, and your association. Maintain your faith that optometry is the best profession in the country and will continue to expand in ways to help you serve your patients better every day.

For anyone who lost a friend, colleague, or loved one during this time, my heart and prayers go out to you. Nothing can ever bring them back, but honor their memories every day by serving your patients to the best of your ability. Stay strong and we will persevere.

 

 

Bryan Stam, O.D.

Florida Optometric Association, President  

 

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