Coronavirus BRIEFING

COVID-19 Crisis Response Tactics: Blenders Eyewear, ClearVision, Moscot, National Vision Holdings, OptiSource, Rochester Optical Manufacturing, Smith, TSO, VHT

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VM brings you the latest information from optical companies and organizations responding to the coronavirus pandemic. California lifestyle brand Blenders Eyewear has repurposed a portion of its manufacturing to make safety goggles for health workers in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The company will donate 10,000 goggles to Southern California hospitals in San Diego and Los Angeles. It is also partnering with Direct Relief,  an international humanitarian aid organization, through which it will provide an additional 20,000 pairs of goggles to high-need regions in the U.S. such as New York City. In addition, 5 percent of all Blenders' sales throughout the month of April will go to Direct Relief.

"Our thoughts are with the doctors, nurses, and medical staff coping with patient surge and putting themselves in harm's way for the sake of the greater good," said Blenders Eyewear CEO Chase Fisher. "As a community, we all have a responsibility to flatten the curve and lower the peak of this virus."

Blenders Eyewear said plans are in place to deliver 2,000 pairs to Sharp Healthcare, 3,500 to Scripps Health, 4,000 to UCLA Medical Center, and to provide an additional 500 pairs to friends and family on the frontlines. The safety goggles are FDA-approved medical devices and will be delivered by April 15. If the need continues to grow, Blenders said it may produce more.

ClearVision's partner, Revo, has joined Brands X Better, a coalition of 27 brands who "who are fostering stability in a time of crisis," Revo said in a statement. Each coalition member is giving up to 10 percent of its web proceeds to a charity or non-profit of its choice that is serving people on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, in addition to offering a shopping incentive for its customers. Revo will donate 10 percent of the company’s net web profits through April 30, 2020 in support of the Meals on Wheels COVID-19 Response Fund.

Revo CEO Cliff Robinson said, "This fund aims to assist the most vulnerable Americans and keep them safe and nourished in communities across the country. We are proud to be a part of the Brands x Better coalition and believe our collective spirit is strong, our ability to come together is powerful, and that sunny skies are ahead.”

Moscot is working with Cherry Optical Lab to manufacture durable, handcrafted eyewear frames with clear, scratch-proof lenses to provide to health care workers facing a PPE shortage. Moscot and Cherry Optical Lab will provide these glasses, prescription or non-prescription, to help reduce exposure to airborne particles or fluid-borne pathogens from patients, as well as to help health care professionals who are reliant on contact lenses.

To receive a pair of eyeglasses, health care professionals can fill out a request form, which Moscot will review and fulfill. Non health care workers may also nominate a health care professional to receive a pair of glasses.

National Vision Holdings, Inchas donated 40,000 masks to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) following a call from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to assist health care workers in the state with supply of additional protective equipment.

The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency's Public Assistance Division works closely with local governments to administer critical federal dollars and supplies during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The donation includes 9,000 N95 masks and 31,000 surgical masks to help health care workers on the frontlines combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“National Vision has been sourcing masks to assist with the eventual safe reopening of our stores to the public,” said Reade Fahs, CEO of National Vision. “It is clear that personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed most urgently today by the health care workers in our hospitals treating those affected by the virus. We owe all these selfless heroes a great debt of gratitude, and the least we can do is to help them protect themselves as they care for people that are sick.”

National Vision temporarily closed all of its more than 1,100 retail locations to the public, and hopes to begin selectively reopening stores in the coming weeks with enhanced safety protocols and a focus on serving patients and customers with urgent and emergency eyecare needs.

“As we look to begin reopening stores with a focus on serving patients and customers with urgent and emergency eyecare needs, we will do so in a way that provides the appropriate PPE to protect optometrists and associates working in our stores as well as the patients and customers we serve,” said Fahs. “As we source those supplies for our team members across the country, we also plan to donate a portion of those supplies to communities in need.”

OptiSource reported that it remains operational with a dedicated team working from home as well as production and shipping crews working under strict safety protocols. The company’s customer service and sales teams are available by phone: 1-800-678-4768 or email: info@1-800-optisource.com. Customers can also visit the online store at: www.1-800-optisource.com.

“OptiSource is following all safety guidelines in order to keep our team healthy and prevent the spread of the virus,” said company president Daryl Squicciarini. “When this passes our industry will recover, we will all have customers to serve, and we will be here to support ECPs. We truly hope that you, your families, friends, and customers remain safe during this crisis.”

Rochester Optical Manufacturing has designed a reusable spectacle-mounted PPE full face shield that it said would work with most personal eyeglasses. “The Full Face Shield is not a replacement or a substitute for N95 face mask,” said Rochester Optical president Patrick Ho. “The idea is that the full face shield would provide another layer of facial frontal protection for front line medical staff and first responders who have to deal with the public. If you don’t have a face mask, using this full face shield is better than nothing.”

He noted that when the N95 face mask is protected by the face shield, the life of an N95 face mask could also be extended or the mask could be re-used, an important benefit given the current shortage of N95 face masks. The full face shield can also be another barrier/deterrent to people touching their faces, often are done naturally and are subconscious responses.

The masks can be ordered by calling (585) 254-0022. Rochester Optical will accept volume orders.

Smith joins the Goggles for Docs movement to provide ski goggles to health care workers who currently have no eyewear protection while treating patients. Smith is currently sending new and used goggles to fulfill hospital requests, and will continue to promote the program, encouraging its community to volunteer and donate on the individual level.

Beginning this week, Goggles for Docs is hosting a virtual Après Ski Music Series of live-streamed sets by featured artists, including Stephen Kellogg and Pete Kilpatrick Band, where listeners can tune in and donate goggles or cash contributions that will directly purchase additional protective gear for medical staff. For more information, to donate or volunteer, visit www.GogglesForDocs.com.

TSO Inc., a member-owned optometry cooperative consisting of over 120 locations throughout Texas and Louisiana, announced that as of March 30 approximately 60 percent of its member locations were open and staffed. Most locations are not performing routine eye exams, but are available to treat eye emergencies and provide people with their prescription eyewear. Many are offering curb-side pick-up of contact lenses and eyeglasses. The TSO Network corporate office began communicating with members on March 16, before most of Texas’ counties containing major metro areas had issued shelter-in-place orders.
“It was important that the TSO Network corporate office did all we could to prepare our members and their patients for how we would handle an expanding crisis,” president John D. Marvin said. “We provided our members with social media tools, email templates and CDC guidelines to help them communicate with their patients and assure them that it was safe to keep their appointments.”

As the virus spread throughout the U.S. and metropolitan areas began issuing shelter-in-place orders, the TSO corporate office's priority changed. “We started helping members access government programs and information that would assist them in meeting payroll and lease payment challenges,” chairman Reid Robertson, OD said. “A live webinar was held with almost 100 percent attendance of our membership to address these two major financial issues.”

VHT, an Akron, Ohio-based solutions provider to large contact centers, launched a VHT COVID-19 Assistance Program (VCAP) to provide immediate relief to health care and other critical service providers experiencing very high volumes of inbound calls. VCAP enables providers to transition callers with non-critical service or information requests to SMS text messaging, a designated website landing page or receive a callback from a live agent as soon as one is available. VCAP increases provider agent capacity to handle more urgent calls.

“We realize we have an important contribution to make enabling health care and critical service providers to get people the help they need at this time of great uncertainty,” chief executive Matt DiMaria said. “We are starting out by donating 30-days of VCAP services at no-charge and will continue to monitor the needs of program participants as the situation evolves.”

VCAP relies on the VHT Mindful SaaS platform, which can be enabled for a provider within 24-hours of their application for the program being accepted. VCAP includes:

• Offering callers a callback as soon as a live agent is available or deflection to text messaging during periods of high call volume.

• Automated responses upon initial engagements initiated through text messaging.

• Installation of a low-code widget on a website or mobile application to allow consumers and the general public to schedule a call through a simple form submission with set up times as low as 20-minutes.

• Two-way messaging portal for remote agents to engage with customers through SMS text messaging for those contacting the organizations.