Editor: “As doctors, it is our number one priority to advocate and defend our patients’ right to quality health care.”
This is a statement issued on Aug. 17 by Dr. Sheldon Salaba, president of the Ontario Association of Optometrists.
This statement appears to be contrary to the actions that the Association has taken. Many optometrist members have withdrawn their services from people that will have dire consequences as a result of not being able to get the services they require.
Some optometrists are still providing service as usual, and they should be applauded. We need to recognize that optometrists’ standard of living is well above the average and has been for most of the 30 years that this issue has been argued.
Using patients as pawns in the Association’s political battle with the province is a cruel tactic that should be viewed with disdain. It gives the appearance that what this is about is more money in the pockets of optometrists at the expense of the patients they think they need to represent.
I believe their number one priority should be to provide quality health care. Their second priority could be to support their patients in advocating and defending health care.
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What other profession is required, or asked to, provide a service at a loss? The payment for an eye exam has not increased since the late 80s level although the costs to provide modern optometry services have increased many fold. The stories of the inconvenience that patients are now facing underscore how valuable optometry is, and that should factor in to the payment. Optometry in Ontario has been very long suffering and I think it is completely understandable for it to come to this. Lobby the government to be reasonable instead of telling optometrists their priorities are not straight.
The number one priority of every optometrist is to ensure they are provide the best high quality eyecare they can to limit the risk of vision loss for every patient they see. The College of Optometry has standards of care based on medical literature and best practices. Optometrists in 2021 have significantly different standards to meet vs 1989… but the government wants to pay at nearly 1989 levels. How can an optometrist meet those standards as they require more equipment and knowledge and pay staff a living wage and pay the the ever increasing utility costs? If the government simply looked at inflation from 1989 to 2021 they would realize $5 doesn’t even scratch the surface. So optometrists have two options… see more patients faster using old technology to try to stay within the $44 paid or take a stand to ensure that patients get the time with the doctor, modern equipment to manage their cases in 2021. Is it an inconvenience to patients and doctors… yes it is… will optometrists let patient lose vision? Absolutely not.. call your optometrist if you have issues and they will provide advice as best as they can to limit the likelihood of vision loss. Patients need to contact their insurance provider, OHIP, and let them know the coverage they have is not appropriate. Working together we can solve problems faster than working apart.
Thank you for posting this comment, and I agree whole-heartedly that Optometrists need to put patients’ care first. I am an Optometrist, and for 30 years I done that, working in a deficit situation to care for my patients. As my practice ages, so do my patients, so now 75% of my patients are OHIP eligible. I lose money on 75% of my appointments. So, for 30 years I have worked harder and harder to keep my practice open to provide care for those patients at a loss. But I am done. I can’t do it anymore, so now the priority has to be advocating for those patients because the system is not sustainable. So if 30 years of giving isn’t enough, I guess a lot of us will have to leave the system and retire or go somewhere where our services are valued.