Hurricane Harvey’s flooding was so widespread throughout Houston that the parking lot outside the practice of AOA Past President Ronald L. Hopping, O.D., was used as a staging area for rescue boats.
Excerpted from page 26 of the March 2018 edition of AOA Focus.
You know to stock up on water and unplug electronics when a natural disaster threatens your home. But how do you prepare an optometric practice to ride out the storm?
Amid raging wildfires in California, and as we enter what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls the most active and dangerous time of year for tropical cyclone activity, heed these emergency procedure tips from doctors who have been there.
Make a list
"We have a hurricane checklist that includes moving and covering equipment and supplies, and zip-tying cabinets shut," says April Jasper, O.D., who practices in coastal Florida, "as well as waterproofing as much as possible with sandbags on the outside and towels on the inside of windows and doors."
Enable staff communication
Set up a text message group to keep staff in the loop on office closings, check on everyone during the disaster and find out who can make it back to the office, says Ronald L. Hopping, O.D., AOA past president who practices in southeast Houston. "[A text message group creates] camaraderie and connection with the rest of the staff," he says.
Keep records safe
Ensure your records are backed up. Buildings can be repaired and rebuilt, but lost records can be just as disastrous.
Prepare to help
Doctors of optometry can be part of the solution during natural disasters, says Tad Buckingham, O.D., assistant professor and attending physician at Pacific University College of Optometry and division chief with Forest Grove Fire & Rescue in Oregon. Take medications and ocular surface treatments with you when evacuating the office, he says. "In disasters, we must be prepared to be called up," Dr. Buckingham says. "Be prepared to help the people who are coming to help you."
Optometry's Fund for Disaster Relief helps change the lives of those doctors affected by natural disasters, providing immediate financial relief for critical and urgent needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. A program of Optometry Cares ®—The AOA Foundation, Optometry's Fund for Disaster Relief has granted nearly a million dollars in grants since its inception in 2005.
Last year alone, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria precipitated a record year for Optometry's Fund for Disaster Relief with $349,500 granted to 113 doctors. Separately, Optometry's Fund for Disaster Relief for Students granted $16,450 to 71 students.
Read more about doctors of optometry recovering after disaster in the March 2018 AOA Focus.
The AOA will use the time to evaluate its collection efforts and create a registry for the future that is most useful to improving eye health and vision care. The AOA launched the registry in 2015.
Even if you’re choosing to disengage, today’s politics have a way of finding you. What are the ground rules for approaching political debates in the practice?
Under new rules for the 21st Century Cures Act, doctors of optometry will need to prepare for changes going into effect April 5. Doctors should check in with their health IT vendor in order to make sure they meet the new requirements.