Myoptic's Sellwood location located in Southeast Portland.

Over the past few weeks, as eyecare practices and optical retailers have begun the reopening process, the questions many eyecare patients have been asking include “How safe is it to return to my local optometrist and dispensary? What precautions have been taken and what will my eye exam experience be like in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis?”

The owners and staff at Myoptic Optometry + Modern Eyewear have been hard at work reimagining safety protocols at their three locations, adding new measures and improving the flow of care to put patients at ease and jump-start their business once the lockdown ended. Updates to the practice’s website and frequent posts to social media have enabled Myoptic to get the word out that safety precautions are in place and they are open for business once again.

Staying ahead of the curve has been a high priority for the three-location, full-service optical which specializes in dry eye management, vision therapy and ortho-k and carries mostly higher-end independent brands of eyewear. John Schreiber, who handles marketing and community outreach, owns Myoptic Optometry along with his wife, Dr. Summy.

The team at Myoptic has been working double-time reimagining safety in the space, adding new measures, and improving the flow of patient care. Image via Myoptic Optometry’s website.  

He said, “We were fortunate to recognize the potential supply chain challenges that were ahead when we chose to close in April—even before the stay at home recommendations came from our governor. Since we order direct for most consumables and don’t use suppliers, we were able to get masks, sanitizer and our acrylic barriers installed relatively quickly. We were even able to donate hundreds of N95 masks to our local frontline workers as well.” 

While the three locations were closed during the lockdown, preparations were already underway to put safety measures in place in anticipation of reopening. “We did countless walk-through simulations of the customer's journey from the front door through dispensing, noting every and all touch points we could address. We then put together a strategy for every single one. Before reopening, the team rehearsed on one another as well so we were well practiced before we saw our first patient.”

Myoptic regularly communicated with patients through Instagram, reassuring them that they were working on a newer, safer flow of patient care. Image via Myoptic Optometry on Instagram.

Throughout the lockdown, Schreiber knew it was also important to keep the lines of communication open with the staff. “Throughout the shutdown, we communicated with them regularly and sent several polls asking when they might feel comfortable returning to work. We brought on staff in the order they were comfortable with and not by seniority or even position. This made things challenging from an operations perspective but we were able to fill open rolls and responsibilities with what we had. We did not want anyone to feel they had to return to work until they were ready.”

In order to give patients an idea of what the “new normal” would be like at Myoptic, Schreiber created a patient safety video for both the team and the customers who would be coming in during the initial reopening phases. “By creating a strong POV story, we tried to educate customers about what to expect as well as put their minds at ease that we have our studios well under control and protocols in place for everyone’s safety,” Schreiber said.

Schreiber also created a 10 Points of Protection + Peace of Mind infographic to reassure patients that it was safe to return for eye exams and eyewear purchases. The infographic, posted on the company’s website, outlined protocols such as touch free check-in and acrylic barriers at all stations, face shields for doctors and technicians, and disinfecting measures for products, equipment and exam rooms.

Myoptic Optometry has instituted these 10 points of Protection + Peace of Mind to reassure patients that it is safe to return for eye exams and eyewear purchases. Image via Myoptic Optometry’s website.

Finally, communicating with their clientele was a bit of a balancing act as Schreiber tried to set the right tone both pre- and post-lockdown. “We have always been very active on social media and were transparent about our response to the Covid 19 situation. And since the beginning of the shutdown, we felt it was not appropriate to post things about our eyewear, promote sales, or make ourselves out to be victims during this time. We recognized that many people were genuinely afraid and did not want to be marketed to so we kept our message about what we were doing for our teams, the community, and for their safety once we could reopen.”

In this video posted on Instagram, Myoptic said they
were seeing patients by appointment only to limit the number of people in the stores. Image via Myoptic Optometry on Instagram.

Only when the stores had been organized, protocols were in place, and all PPE was ready did Myoptic send out and email links letting everyone know they were ready to welcome them back.

The response from their customers, the community, and especially the team at Myoptic has been positive. “Due to the backlog of appointments that had to be cancelled in April we have been able to open with a full schedule—though we began seeing fewer patients per day so as not to overwhelm our team and enforce social distancing guidelines. We are currently running at about 85 percent of our pre-covid capacity.”

And what does the future hold for Myoptic? “The truth is none of us really know just yet how much this will affect us in the long term. Certainly it feels like a setback, but for now we feel people will still want to use their insurance benefits so we’re hopeful it might only mean stronger summer months ahead.

“Of course, the big question we all have is ‘how long will social distancing be necessary?’ but that's not something in our control. We feel what’s best right now is to focus on what we 'can' control, like the safety of our team and customers—and try especially hard to deliver customers with a level of service at an even greater extent than before. If we take care of that, the rest will take care of itself,” Schreiber concluded.