2018 Best Practices Profile: Norwalk Eye Care

Jennifer Stewart, OD, and Mark Feder, OD

Big. Small. New. Established. CooperVision’s Best Practices are different, but they share a common goal: To deliver exceptional care to patients, even in the face of increasing competition and challenges. Established in 2015, Best Practices recognizes and celebrates the visionary, innovative, and unexpected aspects of care delivery that best serve patients and advance the profession. In this series of articles, CooperVision’s 2018 class of Best Practices honorees will be highlighted, one by one, to uncover and share some unique aspects of their practices that help them thrive— with hope that other practitioners may garner inspiration to bolster their own success.

This month, Jennifer Stewart, OD, and Mark Feder, OD of Norwalk Eye Care in Connecticut, discuss how they have grown their practice and how they view the challenges facing today’s practitioners.

Q: Tell us about your professional services offered at your practice. 
A: We provide complete eye care, including comprehensive exams, pediatric care, sports vision, dry eye management, and surgical co-management. We take a holistic approach to the health of the whole body, not just the eyes. We have a successful, high-end contact lens practice too. We fit patients in premium contact lenses—the majority (80-90%) of which are daily disposables—and have significant experience in multifocal contact lens fittings. 

Q: Describe a recent change you implemented in your practice and its impact. 
A: In March 2017, we moved to a new office – from 1,100 sq. ft. to 3,400 sq. ft. It’s an unbelievable change, as we went from two exam lanes to five. We needed the space to continue to improve our quality of care and ultimately, grow our practice. 

Q: Speaking of that growth—what is your approach to hiring new staff?
A: We don’t rush. We take time to ensure someone is the right fit, because the wrong dynamics affects everybody—one bad apple upsets the whole cart. We look for people who are personable, responsible, and reliable, then train them for the necessary role.

Norwalk Eye Care

Q: How do you keep your staff motivated and engaged?
A: Our team knows that we are all pieces of a puzzle, and every person plays am equal role in a patient’s experience. They work well together to get everything done. We think of the staff as family and know they do too. We try to find a balance between being good bosses and being good colleagues. We do dishes, we sweep the floor; we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty and the staff appreciates that. 

Q: How is your practice innovative beyond technology?
A: We approach each patient as if we are part of their overall health care team. We talk every day to primary care doctors, rheumatologists, endocrinologists, and more. Co-management with other specialists is so important, but it isn’t something patients see from many other practices. We are proud of that. 

Q: How do you overcome the challenges facing practitioners today?
A: There are many challenges, but they will always be there. We shouldn’t feel defeated, but instead ask ourselves what we can do about it. What changes can we make? There are challenges in every profession, and the most successful people are those who use them to adapt and grow. Be creative. Rise above the challenges. 

Q: What is your favorite part of being a Best Practice?
A: At first, we weren’t aware of the events that come along with the designation, like the Best Practices Summit and media roundtable. It’s been wonderful to meet other honorees to hear what makes them different. There isn’t a day that goes by in our practice that we aren’t trying to do something better, so it’s a valuable opportunity to learn from others. 

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