Supporting Eye Care Professionals and Students Through COVID-19 Recovery and Re-Opening to Ensure Patient Safety and Health
COVID-19 forced all Americans to learn to live differently amid stay at home orders to protect public health. The impact has been felt in every aspect of our lives including healthcare, and importantly eye care. Decisions on when to seek care – Should I seek care? How do I seek care? – continue to worry us as the pandemic continues to affect daily life.
Eye care professionals have asked themselves similar questions – What eye care problems qualify as urgent? How should I counsel patients on when to seek care? How do I provide care safely to protect my staff, my patients, myself and all those we love in the face of a highly contagious virus?
Optometric educators faced the same dilemmas for patient care with the added concern of ensuring their students met the requirements for graduation when their clinical experiences came to a halt amid the immediate closure of clinics.
The profession found ways to provide care in urgent situations for months offering patients limited access while faced with mandated closures. Today offices, clinics and schools are slowly re-opening to provide a full range of eye health services and must do so with an abundance of caution for public health. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 still exists, as does the need for care.
Johnson & Johnson Vision* recognized early that we had a responsibility to support the professionals of today and tomorrow in navigating this healthcare crisis. In late March, we partnered with the Association of Schools & Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) to deliver the Student Online Clinical Case Education Program. Our clinicians and scientists provided 46 hours of clinical education to 6500 students to help the Class of 2020 meet their requirements for graduation.
Our efforts now shift to health and safety as practices and clinics re-open for full-scope care. Johnson & Johnson Vision has committed $320,000 to this effort through donations to organizations leading the efforts to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and to assure access to care in areas hard hit by this pandemic.
- The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) is obtaining and distributing PPE; specifically – masks, to both practitioners and colleges of optometry throughout North America.
- Optometry Cares – the AOA Foundation is providing financial support to practitioners uniquely impacted by COVID-19, ensuring patients in underserved communities receive necessary eye health services.
“The situation with COVID-19 has had a profound impact across many facets of eye care,” said Dr. Charissa Lee, Head, North America Professional Affairs at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. “We have been listening to needs of eye care community of professionals in the wake of COVID-19, and we remain committed to sustaining our partnership and helping to lead the way as practices and schools of optometry safely emerge stronger than ever before to serve patients.”
Johnson & Johnson Vision is committed to changing the trajectory of eye health worldwide. From eye care professional education to advocacy to access to eye health services, we’re working to galvanize a movement at the local level and expand access to eye care. The partnerships with Optometry Cares – the AOA Foundation and the American Academy of Optometry Foundation is an example of how Johnson & Johnson Vision is helping ensure professionals, patients, and students stay safe while prioritizing eye health as a part of overall health and well-being, and delivering on our commitment to help people see better, connect better, live better.
You can read more about Johnson & Johnson Vision’s COVID-19 response efforts at jjvision.com/coronavirus, and about Johnson & Johnson Vision’s worldwide “Prioritize Your Eyes” effort to encourage everyone to take the single most important step in eye health – to get an eye exam – at jjvision.com/prioritizeyoureyes.
*Johnson & Johnson Vision is comprised of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson Surgical Vision, Inc.
Photo used with permission and courtesy of Marshall B. Ketchum University. Photo credit: Matt Breneman.