Wanted: An optometrist with passion, creativity, ambition and vision – who wants patient relationships that can only happen in a small town.
Dr. Joseph Dolezal, owner of Innovations in EyeCare, gets very animated when talking about how fun his job is. He likes to stay on top of the latest ideas and techniques. “I’ve probably changed how I do what I do about ten times,” he says. “We get to change with the newest technology and the latest procedures. I get to do corneal rehabilitative work. Contacts are made out of placenta tissues to make the eye heal faster. I would not have had the ability to do these things in another setting.”
Dr. Dolezal believes his practice can offer a unique experience to a prospective optometrist because they do so much more than eye exams and glasses. Medical eye care is a large part of the practice which includes treating glaucoma, cataracts, pediatric work, eye infections, industrial incidents, metal in the eye and more. Diabetic Eye Exams make up about 20 percent of their work. These are performed annually, recorded and sent to the person’s primary care provider. Innovations in EyeCare’s ability to handle these appointments help patients stay in their home community instead of traveling out of town.
“Every day is different,” says Dr. Dolezal. “Everything a doctor learned in their medical rotation is seen here. We have a good working relationship with medical doctors, pediatrics, the Emergency Room and others, and they refer patients to us. We’re tied in with the health care system combining primary health care with vision. In some cities they compete for patients, but we work collaboratively here. That’s a great thing and a great benefit to our patients.”
Dr. Dolezal works with a highly skilled and educated staff. Their team of ten keeps the business running efficiently. This is especially important because of Dr. Dolezal’s many community responsibilities. He served on the Board of Trustees at Centralia College and is now on the Centralia College Foundation board. He also helped start the Medical Office Assistant program, incorporating essential skills and knowledge.
As a result, his highly skilled team is specially equipped to help a new doctor. They are able to process 28 to 35 patients a day because staff handles insurance, pre-tests, pre-authorizations, government regulations, the web portal and more. “It all allows me to do what I do and spend more time really connecting with the patient,” Dr. Dolezal says with obvious admiration. “Running the business part can be daunting for a new doctor when all they want to do is what they were trained to do. So we have that part covered for them.”
There are four Spanish-speakers on staff, including Dr. Dolezal. “I took four years of Spanish in high school because that’s where the girls were,” he laughs. “But it has really been an advantage in communicating with patients. So if someone can bring that kind of skill that fits in this region, that can really give them a leg up.”
Dr. Dolezal hopes a new doctor would choose to live in the area, but understands they would likely have to work at several other locations until the business is built, and most of those locations are in Olympia. He also knows small town life isn’t for everybody, “But it’s so nice to be able to go downtown and we all know each other,” he says with a smile.
Innovations in EyeCare is currently expanding exam rooms. “It could be a two and a half doctor practice, which could be attractive to someone who might not want full time,” he says.
He feels his main advantage is the opportunity to grow and learn. “There are so many things that I’ve been able to do because we’re an individual practice and are able to change quickly,” he says. “We want to get someone who wants to do independent medical practice where they can steer where they want to go. We are excited about what interests and skills someone might bring to us. They will need to find their niche. I’ll take them around to meet everyone but I also want them to do things their own way and see what works for them.”
“I’ve had such fun in this profession,” says Dr. Dolezal. “It’s a challenging and very rewarding job. I’m not ready to retire yet, but I hope I can find someone that I could turn it over to someday.”
Innovations in EyeCare
1125 Mellen St.