A Warm Welcome To A (Really) Cold Start

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Melissa Bourland, OD, had her plan in place for Duneland Family Eyecare to open at the beginning of April. However, COVID-19 changed all of that.

Dr. Bourland graduated from Illinois College of Optometry in 2017. She had been working part-time at a private practice when she and her husband, Mike Bourland, who has a business degree and serves as her business manager, decided Chesterton, Indiana, was a great place to start a practice.

The couple moved to the area on the shore of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana and was working on a home renovation at the same time they were planning the practice. Despite the delays that COVID-19 caused to construction schedules and delivery of materials, the couple says that there is some silver lining. “We didn’t feel rushed,” she says.


The space before it was renovated.
NO PERSONAL CONTACTS

The usual networking paths that a new-to-town OD would take have been closed to Dr. Bourland. “We wanted to start going out and meeting people, visiting medical providers’ offices and businesses, but we can’t do that kind of networking. Our advertising has been through social media and digital outreach,” she says.

Dr. Bourland opened May 11—and she’s delighted every time she goes onto her electronic appointment book and sees another exam or two schedules. “We have appointments for our opening week, so I’m very excited.”

REASSURANCES

As she builds up her reputation in town, she knew she needed to be explicit with the practice’s safety and sanitization processes. “We have a link on the website so that people can see what we’re doing and how that follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Optometric Association. We’ve also posted those on our Facebook page,” she says.

FAMILY FEEL


There are two other, multilocation optometric practices in town, so Dr. Bourland says that Duneland’s appeal will be in the family-friendly, shop-local vibe. “We’re inspired by the area around us. We’ve incorporated natural dune grasses and beachy colors like grays, whites and blues,” she says. Her optical area includes only independent frame lines and is trying to stay away from the brands that can be purchased everywhere.

The couple has also created a semi-enclosed section for children—most notably because they anticipate bringing their 2-year-old daughter to work with them. While they’re not promoting it as child care, they do anticipate that busy parents will appreciate being able to come into the exam room briefly and know that their child can be entertained there briefly.

The grand opening—which has already been delayed twice—is now scheduled for May 20.

This story originally appeared in Women In Optometry.