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TRENDSPOTTING Q&A

The EB Convo with…Bimal Patel, O.D.

Bimal Patel, O.D.
PHOTO COURTESY AL TORRES PHOTOGRAPHY INC.

Bimal Patel, O.D., the owner of Focus Refined Eye Care in Houston, TX, is ready to offer a new vision in 2020.

Eyecare-centric puns aside, Dr. Patel, who announced he is running for representative of Texas’s 18th congressional district (challenging a 13-time incumbent), has a positive outlook.

“A lot of people say, ‘If you see it, then you’ll believe it.’ But I think the opposite is true, too; when you believe in something—and I believe that I can win this race—if I keep thinking that every day, then eventually I’ll see it.”

Here, the native Houstonian shares how he balances running a small business and kicking off his campaign.

EB: What ultimately inspired you to run for Congress?

Bimal Patel, O.D.: I was starting to notice that every patient story was kind of reflective of what was going on in our community. We’ve had the same representation for almost 25 years now. It’s time for a new perspective.

There are a lot of ideas and policies out there that can really change a lot of people’s lives—from health care to education and student loans to infrastructure here in Houston.

EB: Are there any optometry-specific causes that you’d like to focus on?

Dr. Patel: I firmly believe in access to preventive health care. A lot of my patients don’t have access to just a routine wellness check, in terms of getting their regular blood work and physicals done every year, or a dental visit, or an eye exam.

A lot of these preventive healthcare measures catch disease early on and we can treat them accordingly. If patients have access to that, then we can reduce healthcare costs for generations to come.

EB: How do you balance your work as an optometrist as you continue your journey?

Dr. Patel: It is like running two full-time jobs now. I’ve figured out the peak time in terms of when patients schedule the most during the week. I’ve isolated my schedule so I focus on my patients on certain days and certain parts of the day.

Then, actually, right across the hallway from my exam lane, I’ve created a little campaign headquarters.

Right now, I’m going back and forth. As the campaign progresses and we get more resources under the belt, I hope to hire another optometrist to make sure that both projects are getting the appropriate attention.

EB: Have you found a support system in the optometric community?

Dr. Patel: The optometric community has been super supportive. I was just at a local society meeting and it was great to have the optometry community behind me. I got a chance to speak for a few minutes there and talk a little bit about my campaign and what our focus is and trying to earn their support.

I do about 20 to 30 hours of call time a week. That’s calling people in my network—not only optometrists, but family and friends—and letting them know about the race and seeing what kind of feedback they have, because it’s also important to understand how they feel, because, essentially, you’re going to be representing them. —KERRI ANN RAIMO