When Covid-19 hit the U.S., Alireza Somji, O.D., of Horizon Eye Care & Optical in Sugar Land, TX, volunteered with an early response group of health care professionals.
“The volunteers checked on high-risk members of the community and were given kits consisting of some basic PPE—gloves, masks, and protective eyewear,” he says. “At the same time, I noticed that masks were all over the news, but protective eyewear wasn’t really discussed much.”
Dr. Somji bought as much PPE as he could at Lowe’s. Then, as he was reaching out to companies he does business with, Hoya stepped up—donating 500 pairs of protective safety glasses.
Here, we check in with husband-and-wife eyecare team Alireza Somji, O.D., and Sana Somji, O.D., on how they’re coping amid the pandemic, and utilizing their skills as ECPs to take part in local acts of kindness.
—Kerri Ann Raimo
What motivated you to get involved in donating safety eyewear to the community?
I wasn’t able to be involved on the front line against Covid-19 and wanted to be able to help. Given what we do, protective eyewear was a natural fit. —A.S.
How can ECPs help their patients/communities amid Covid-19?
ECPs can continue to engage their patients and remind them we are part of the fabric of our communities. We can continue to be available for any eye-related emergencies so patients can stay out of the ER. Once we open, we need to give patients the confidence we have adapted and changed our practices to be as safe as possible. —S.S.
How has Covid-19 affected your practice’s preparedness plan for the future?
The economics of the pandemic have brought into sharp focus the need to make sure we don’t neglect the financial preparedness of our practices to cope with emergencies. This includes developing a plan to retain and financially support our staff. Covid-19 also brought telehealth into the conversation; something we need to incorporate in our emergency plans. —A.S.
Greatest source of inspiration right now?
My two young kids. They’re so innocent and oblivious to what’s happening around us. All they want to do is play soccer, go biking, and spend time with me! —A.S.
The quality you most value in your family right now?
Resilience. My wife and kids have been amazing. —A.S.
Positive outlook for the future?
I’m a big believer in “adversity builds character” and “fortune favors the brave!” I think this experience is going to make us stronger, and our practices will benefit in the long run if we can ride out these few months. —A.S.
Go-to office sanitizing product?
Lysol wipes for the big areas and 70% isopropyl alcohol for the little stuff. —S.S.
Best advice for fellow eyecare professionals today?
Make the most of your time off, enjoy your family, and, if you must, work on the things you always put off at home or in your practice! —A.S. and S.S.