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HomemicontactA Patient for Life

A Patient for Life

Good communication with the patient and colleagues helps to ensure the best possible outcomes for both the patient and your practice, which, in turn, leads to the satisfaction of a job well done.

I was examining a patient around 10:30am one morning, about three weeks before retiring from optometric practice when I suddenly heard my email going ‘ping, ping, ping’, every minute or so. I wondered what was going on. When I checked I realised the practice had emailed my patients to inform them of my imminent departure.

Patients responded saying very nice things about the care I had provided. Many expressed how I’d changed their lives. Some have followed me through the three practices I’ve been involved in.

I was at once astounded, flattered, happy, humbled and saddened.

the feedback drove home and confirmed the core aspects of my philosophy of ‘a patient for life’…

I’ve pasted a few of these comments below as they reiterate the core of what I’ve so long espoused, regarding the critical things that make for sound practise and success.

This from a monocular keratoconic America’s Cup sailor;

“Congratulations, but I am saddened; you have been my life line for more than 20 years … I cannot thank you enough…. 20 years is a long time.

I came to you when my head was down after Dr. X said there was no chance on my left eye. You lifted me by giving me much better sight in my right eye. I have gone on and achieved so much in the 20 years thank you.”

Other excerpts read as follows;

“I have been dreading the day I lost your care…”

“I’ve always valued your professionalism and advice…”

“Good on you for retiring!!! Are you really? You are too young, you’ll get bored unless you have a lot of travel and random hobby plans. I just wish to say a very big thank you so much for my eye care over the last (gosh) must be 15 years. I have been visiting you about once a year for just under one third of my life. Lol. You will be missed…”

“You have been a “God send” to me over the years and I really do not know how I would have coped without your expert knowledge and care. I would even travel over there…”

“Quite simply you changed my life, enabling me to wear soft lenses and be comfortable!”

“I will be really sad to lose you as my practitioner. You have provided amazing care and expertise – I think for something like 25 years now. Not only have you redefined my comfort with keratoconus but you have worked with Sue Ormonde and have added a great dimension and comfort there.

Best of luck and best wishes, with enormous respect and affection…”

This, from an ocular albinism patient with seven cyls, low vision and nystagmus:

“From my perspective, I am so sad – we have worked together for a long time now and I guess I never ever thought about you leaving. Only you and John Boyce have ever truly given me confidence that I was receiving the best treatment options available and for that, I am ever so grateful. Alan, thank you for everything – you have been amazing to work with. You’ve kept me in line when I’ve wanted to be stroppy, you’ve reassured me when I’ve not been confident but above all, you’ve shared your innovations and experience with me, which has resulted in me having the best options to choose from – I honestly couldn’t have wanted for anything more…”

A Patient for Life

I don’t want this to sound like I’m blowing my own horn but the feedback drove home and confirmed the core aspects of my philosophy of ‘a patient for life’ and the delivery of quality and service. Putting the patient first and going above-and-beyond help cement this philosophy, as does the provision of state-of-the-art systems and eye care. Top-level communication, with the patient and interprofessionally, also helps to ensure the best possible outcomes. This in turn leads to the satisfaction of a job well done.

I will miss many aspects of professional practice.

Of course there are things I shall not miss and there comes a time when one must move on to new horizons.

I will continue to apply the above philosophies and ethical standards of quality and care.

Ode to September

On the first day of September 1983, I decided to drive past the apartment of a girl whom I had met 18 months prior in Plettenberg bay South Africa. I arrived at her apartment, after work, in my BMW and all white ‘medical grade’ Safari Suit, with white shoes and socks to boot. She must have been impressed as from that time on we were an item.

She twisted my arm to forego joining the family practice as a partner, and head off to Europe in February 1984.

My family and future partners were not impressed by this frivolous act.

We spent the best year of our lives travelling 50,000km through Europe in our trusty Leyland Sherpa diesel van, which we’d converted into a camper with stuff from a local tip in Rickmansworth, London.

A year later Karen and I married on 31 August 1985, only because 1 September was a Sunday and didn’t work out.

I’ve always considered September ‘my month’. It’s also spring in the Southern Hemisphere; blossoms abound while the birds, bees, plants and trees awake with a vengeance.

Significant things often happen in the month of my birth.

This September was no exception.

I’d already had a busy year with many days away from March to August – a trip to South Africa, followed by a whirlwind launch of the Acuvue Oasys 1 Day lens, visiting nine cities in eleven days. After that it was off to the great Snowvision conference in Queenstown NZ, which remains one of my favourite places on the planet. I followed that up with a fantastic week skiing at nearby Cardrona with some of the eye gang. Then it was off to Singapore to do some lecturing. I returned home late in August having not had a weekend at home in six weeks.

So what did September 2016 have in store?

Well on the first day of the month, the night after our 31st wedding anniversary dinner, I had a meeting with the new publisher of NZ Optics. Based on that meeting, I decided it was time to move on after 22 years of publishing my In Contact column in NZ Optics magazine and go it alone.

Life Changing Times

That in itself would have been challenge enough but as you have just read, I also decided to retire from clinical practice and take up a golden opportunity in Sydney. That made my wife extremely happy as our daughter moved there about four years ago to work for Goldman Sachs.

Although we both love NZ and our happy home, Karen has found the long grey winter a bit much and is delighted she will be closer to family.

Happy wife, happy life.

Thus, September 2016 proved to be one of the most massive and significant months of my life! Sorting out thirty years of paperwork, carrying heavy boxes, selling surplus stuff and filling a large skip with junk also contributed to the stress and a 5kg weight loss. As did deconstructing my garden, tipping compost heaps, emptying plant pots and the like, as none could travel to Australia due to the tight biosecurity controls.

Painting and preparing our house for sale meant many late nights and weekends of cleaning, scrubbing, fixing and packing for Australia.

Taking my In Contact column online and under my control also generated over 500 emails and new subscription requests, most of which had to be actioned and responded to.

We were fortunate to sell the house within a week of going to market thus avoiding many weekends of open homes and reducing stress. We made a 2.2X return on what we paid, a mere six and a half years prior. Talk about an overheated property bubble.

We consider ourselves very fortunate, with no complaints. It seems the planets and stars aligned and shone favourably upon us.

We look forward to the exciting challenges and adventures that lie ahead with our new life in Sydney.

I pledge to continue to share the things we need to do to achieve superb outcomes; through ensuring the best possible patient pathway is always at the top of our minds.


Alan P Saks MCOptom(UK) Dip.Optom(ZA) FCLS(NZ) FAAO(USA) is a third generation optometrist based in Auckland, New Zealand and columnist for mivision. He is actively involved in the profession, having served multiple terms as president of Contact Lens Societies and arranged numerous conferences. He has also served on education committees, as examiner in contact lenses and clinical optometry examinations, lectured contact lenses to ophthalmology registrars and written several columns about eye health and the practice of optometry.