While it underwent a change in ownership and a rebranding years ago, Delaware Vision Care has remained a staple in the Delaware community for over three decades. Along the way, it has continued to evolve the ways in which it serves the community to remain viable in a changing landscape.
Dr. Ronald Gaudio bought the practice formerly known as Kerr Eye Care, located at 34 N. Sandusky St., in 2004. Prior to his acquisition, the practice had been under the ownership of Dr. Richard Kerr since he founded it in 1987. Gaudio called Kerr an excellent doctor and businessman but noted he was mostly focused on the “nuts and bolts” of eye care such as glasses and contacts.
Upon purchasing the practice, Gaudio saw a necessary shift in direction for the practice.
“Since we took it over, I most definitely took it toward a more medical emphasis because I am a medical optometrist as well as Dr. (Christine) Flemming and Dr. (Daniel) Soderberg,” he told The Gazette. “I’m the medical director, and I expanded to a glaucoma practice, emergency services, medical services, and things like that. Anything that has to do with medical issues of the eye, we’ve greatly expanded that since I took over.”
Gaudio said the expansion of medical services boiled down to meeting what he determined were the needs of the community rather than any strategic business maneuver.
“I realized when I took over that there was a need here for a medical optometrist because the ophthalmologists, they’re backed up and very busy,” Gaudio said. “They can be backed up sometimes for several months. And their emphasis is more surgical, so there were a lot of people I felt were falling between the cracks, who needed medical services but did not need surgery.”
Dr. Brad Oatney has been with Delaware Vision Care for two years and said the practice’s continued success in the community is a byproduct of its focus on taking care of people in a manner in which they’ve come to expect while also mixing in new technology and increased skillsets.
“It’s about caring for patients instead of patient care,” Oatney said. “Patient care now is to get you in and get you out. Caring for patients is taking the time to understand people and actually enjoy what we do.”
Oatney, who serves on the board of governors for the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said one thing he’s particularly excited about is trying to incorporate cognition assessment into eye care by analyzing how the brain and the eye are connected, a relatively new focus in the industry.
“Everybody knows what their blood pressure or AIC or cholesterol numbers are, but if you ask someone what their cognition score is, they’re like, ‘What are you talking about?’ Cognition and the brain, how people think, kind of drives everything,” Oatney said. “There’s new technology out where you can have a screening of your cognitive ability, which is just getting launched in eye care. It’s kind of the question of whether the brain drives vision or is vision kind of driving cognition? We’ve got some of the first FDA-cleared technology where you can actually screen somebody.”
While cognition evaluations exist, including things such as the clock drawing test, Oatney said such tests are very subjective depending on who’s evaluating them. The computerized screening, however, will present a much more objective analysis of someone’s cognitive ability, he said.
Utilizing such technology helps to align Delaware Vision Care with Gaudio’s goal of remaining current, but equally important to him is maintaining the hands-on, personable feel of the office at a time when so many practices are doing the opposite.
“It’s a two-fold goal, really,” Gaudio said. “We’re trying to offer the latest and best technology for people, so I always want to stay current with the technology. The trick, however, is that we don’t want to turn into technocrats where people come in and there are all these machines, and hardly anyone is talking to you.
“We’re a family and community-oriented business, so we’re highly personal and very, very involved with our patients. We want to be high-tech but with that personalized service. We don’t want to lose that human touch, so that’s the trick for us. We want to stay in both of those lanes.”
Delaware Vision Care’s commitment to the community extends beyond its practice, as well. Whether it’s supporting the Strand Theatre or the Humane Society, or working with companies that are committed to sustainability, Delaware Vision Care wants to maintain a presence that isn’t confined to the people who come through their door.
Speaking on the sustainability initiatives, Oatney said he collects the containers disposable contacts come in, from the foil and the holder to the lens themselves, and recycles them. Patients who would like to participate in the recycling can store the items in a plastic bag for a period of time and then drop them off to Oatney at the office.
Oatney went on to say he’s recently begun working with the water treatment plant to educate the public on the importance of not discarding used contact lenses in the toilet because of the damage it can do to the system.
For more information on the practice, visit www.delawarevisioncare.com.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.