Since our last meeting in St. John’s the Newfoundland and Labrador association of Optometry (NLAO) council has been quite busy representing our profession. Each council member has represented our association well and I appreciate the time each one of them has volunteered to further solidify our place in the medical community.
I would like to personally thank all council members and our executive director Mr. Ed Breen for all of their hard work and dedication throughout the year.
You will recall that at our 2013 AGM, members directed council to continue its work in developing strategy and ultimately re-approaching government with a proposal to increase scope of practice and MCP coverage. NLAO members who volunteered to serve on our scope of practice committee include Dr. Garry Best Dr. Clare Halleran, Dr. Luc Boulay, Dr. Jennifer Swyers, and Dr. Rachel Gardiner. Following the AGM, our scope of practice committee, Ed and I met on two separate occasions and corresponded via e-mail and one the direction NLAO should take with regard to its approach to government. A draft letter was developed on the proposed increased scope of practice, as well as working points on why re-insuring optometry under the MCP coverage makes sense in Newfoundland and Labrador.
At our Winter meeting in January, Council decided that the best next step it should take our members was in the direction of obtaining MCP coverage for our optometrists. We, as your council wrote a letter to Dr. Derek Dunphy of the Ophthalmology Division of Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association stating that NLAO would be seeking government subsidization for the patients under the care of optometrists for ocular health related visits whether those visits are for prevention of disease or treatment of ocular health related problems. We expressed the view that we were looking for support to achieve this goal so that they delivery of eye health care in our province could be further improved. Dr. Dunphy promptly responded to our letter with the intent of forwarding our letter to Dr. Jim Whalen and Dr. Chris Jackman, both of whom are the representatives for ophthalmology in our province.
A similar letter was sent to the Minister of Health and Community Services, The Honourable Paul Davis, on June 3, 2014. I am pleased to report that on September 9th, we received a telephone call from Mr. Chad Blundon of the Policy Division of the Department of Health and Community Services, regarding this letter. Mr. Blundon expressed an interest in meeting to further discuss our proposal. At the time of this report, we are arranging a meeting time and hopefully we’ll have more information at the AGM. We’ll keep you posted!
I”m very happy to report to you that Dr. Doug Cote has made several contacts this year that could prove invaluable in the near future. First, he met with Mr. Andrew PArsons who is the Opposition Critic for Health and Community Services.
Mr. Parsons was very receptive to our proposal and brought it up at a Health Budget Estimates meeting in May. He has agreed to meet with us again to further discuss specific details on how we can improve the delivery of eye health care in our province. Second, Doug had a very positive conversation with Dr. Wendy Graham, who is the newly appointed President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA). They discussed MCP funding in Newfoundland and Labrador and making the primary health care system better. Dr. Graham agreed with our position that optometrists should be included for medically necessary visits. Hopefully we can call on Dr. Graham for support when we present our proposal to government.
In other news, this was the first year the NLAO participated in the Children’s Expo, which took place on June 7th and 8th at the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay. Dr. Rhonda Whitte did a fantastic job bringing our booth together with a few NLAO members volunteering their time. Hopefully, next year we can get even more members to take part and have an even bigger presence! It was a successful venture all around and we’ll be looking to participate on an annual basis!
On behalf of NLAO, I am pleased to welcome our four newest members: Dr. Ekaterina Medina, Dr. Stephan McIntosh, Dr. Alison Caiger-Watson, and Dr. Lorielle Pevie. I wish you much success and happiness practicing in our province.
Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment (DHRLE)
Subsidies for clients of DHRLE remain at $55.00 for eye examinations, $125.00 for single vision corrective devices and $175.00 for multifocal corrective devices.
Council continues to advocate to government reimbursement for medically necessary visits as well as a children’s vision program. Council has also corresponded with government requesting an increase in the frequency of coverage for vision care as well as a regular coverage review for these clients.
Dr. John Snow Memorial Scholarship
The 2013 winner of the Dr. John Snow Memorial Scholarship was Ms. Brittany Verge of Grand Falls-Windsor who is currently pursuing her studies in optometry at the University of Waterloo. We wish her every success and look forward to her returning to our province to practice. Applications for the 2014 scholarship are currently being addressed.
Issues in Optometry
National Incident Reporting
Just a reminder to all members that completion of national incident report forms remains a high priority for CAO (LINK OPTO.ca). These reports help provide invaluable information to support advocacy initiatives that demonstrate the importance of comprehensive eye health examinations and optometric services. These forms can be found on the CAO website (LINK OPTO.ca). CAO suggests completion of an incident form in circumstances such as: 1. Patients having a diagnosis of asymptomatic eye disease; 2. Patients having had a sight test(independent automated refraction) and experienced a problem; 3. Problems arising with contact lenses or eyeglasses purchased online or without a prescription; and finally: 4. Problems with plano or cosmetic contact lenses.
Council members met and travelled on association business on the following occasions during the past year:
Dr. Doug Cote attended several CAO meetings as the NLAO representative. Mr. Ed Breen attended a Canadian Association of Optometry Executives meeting in Toronto for executive directors as well as an NPEC meeting. NLAO Council had meetings in Montreal in January and in St. John’s in Nune. Dr. Doug Cote, Dr. Amy Oldford, Mr. Ed Breen, and I represented our association at the Optometric Leaders’ Forum in Montreal in January.
Once again thank you for the privilege of representing you as the President of the NLAO over this past year.
Dr. Mark Smith