BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Four eyecare practices in central Illinois are planning to merge to create a new integrated eyecare facility. The practices, including McLean County Eye Center
, Central Illinois Eyecare
, Eyecare Associates
and Eye Surgical Associates
, will bring optometry and ophthalmology services together in the yet-to-be-named facility. They will be joined by Specs Around Town
, a well-known boutique eyewear business, which is not merging with the others but will eventually move from its current downtown location to space in the new vision center when it opens in August 2019.
Groundbreaking for the new facility is to take place in early August of this year. The value of the project is $10 million, including purchasing 4.4 acres, building the 27,000-square-foot structure and adding some furnishings and equipment, according to David Landess, OD, co-owner of McClean County Eye Center, who has been spearheading the new initiative.
Landess told VMAIL
,” Our vision is to merge high-quality, established practices into a seamless integrated eye health care model. This would provide our patients with a seamless and efficient experience from general primary eyecare needs through surgical services including LASIK suite, minor surgery, retina services and cataract. This would be augmented with a locally very popular and trendy boutique experience with the addition of Specs Around Town. We wanted to create a different experience for optical and approached Julie to see if she would be interested in blending her creative, edgy and stylistic brand into an otherwise highly medical, but trendy and freshly integrated eye health care system.”
Julie Kubsch, owner of Specs Around Town added, “We will maintain our autonomy as a business. But we have a reputation of having the most unique selection of eyewear and sunglasses in Central Illinois and will carry on that tradition at our new location. We’re very excited about this and are looking forward to marking 20 years in business this fall.”
Landess added, “Efficiencies would be attained through blending technologies, frame inventories and other economies of scale. Staffing would purposely not be cut and would even plan some increases over time. We firmly believe the patient experience would be threatened if staffing levels were dwindled to save expenses.” He emphasized, “The vision here is optometry and ophthalmology working together to deliver integrated care. There will be 13 doctors with the addition of retina. There will be seven owners—four ODs and 3 MDs—in a complete merger of companies.”
McLean County Eye Center is 35 years in the community, with three doctors and 25 staff. Co-owners are Landess and Jeffrey Huettemann, OD and associate, Jason Dunn, OD. Noted Landess, “We’ve seen explosive growth over past 6 to 8 years and we're land locked without growth ability. We did not want to just build a new building, but wanted to create something that could help future proof against known industry disrupters.”
Central Illinois Eyecare has three doctors, 15 staff, six years in the community. Dr. Eric Norell is the owner. Eyecare Associates has two doctors, 8 staff and has been in the community for 30 years. Eye Surgical Associates has three ophthalmologists, including Dr. Scott Pinter, Dr. Katherine Crockett and Dr. Dan Brownstone. They have a staff of 35 and have been in the community for 35 years.
Landess concluded, “This seamless integrated model is one that reflects coming trends and will ultimately leave the patient with a high quality experience. Our culture bends around three guiding principles of medical excellence, patient centricity and the symbiotic relationship between staff and doctors.
The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. The new practice address will be 1107 N. Airport Rd. Bloomington IL 61704.