Technically, the doors were locked at Complete Eyecare Optometry from March 19 to May 18. But the optometrists at the Abbotsford clinic weren’t sitting at home with their feet up.
“We were answering 40-50 phone calls a day,” says Dr. Joanne Hankey. “Complete Eyecare has a 43 year commitment to the community of Abbotsford, and we wanted to maintain that commitment and see people through this hard time.”
A parent whose young child’s eye looks red. A senior who woke up in the morning with distortions in their vision. A teen who got hit in the eye with a football. Every time Dr. Hankey picked up the phone it was something new.
“We had people come to the door with broken glasses they’d sat on and we’d adjust them back into shape. We also had people with really serious eye problems. We couldn’t examine anyone, but we could triage and help people find the help they needed.”
Normally the clinic has dozens of doctors and other staff on hand, but during the COVID-19 pandemic just two or three optometrists entered the building each day. The services they provided to the community were largely unpaid, but Dr. Hankey says everyone felt the work was important.
Community support goes both ways
Complete EyeCare Optometry has been a pillar in Abbotsford since Dr. Webb and Dr. Riederer opened the clinic in 1977, and the local staff’s devotion to the community is motivated by the community’s support. Staff help clients because clients have helped staff.
“This has been a difficult time for a lot of businesses, and when we see big retail stores closing we start to realize that we’re all vulnerable. I think a lot of people have started to appreciate the purchasing power we have as individuals,” Dr. Hankey says. “We’re so grateful to the Abbotsford community for supporting us. It really does make a difference.”
Dr. Hankey has seen three and four generations of families in her Optometrist chair, and even new patients are often referred by grandparents or grandchildren. That support through the years has provided a strong foundation that’s guided the clinic through the challenges of 2020. The clinic reopened at 20 per cent capacity and is now at 40-50 per cent, but the wait list is still long.
“We want to express our appreciation for those still waiting. We’re trying to get people in, but we’re grateful for everyone’s patience,” she says.