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Wes Garton, O.D., '80, FAAO, of Wichita Kansas, was elected as President of the Board of Directors of the Heart of America Eye Care Congress at its 59th annual meeting on Feb 15th, 2020 in Kansas City, MO. The 12 member board represents Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa. It is responsible for providing education for the optometric community including doctors, para-optometrics, opticians, and insurance specialists.
Dr. Garton is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry. He has served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Kansas Optometric Association. He is a 1980 graduate of Southern College of Optometry.
Congratulations to Jeff Netzel, OD '02, who was recently sworn in as President of the Arkansas Optometric Association during the association's virtual spring meeting. Other alumni officers include President Elect Joe Sugg, OD '09, Vice-President Melia Robertson, OD '10, Secretary/Treasurer James Hertzog, OD '06; new Director Justin Beavers, OD '07, and returning Directors Rusty Simmons, OD '83, Alex Bell, OD '09, and Katie Brown, OD '12.
Arkansas Optometric Association alumni award recipients also announced during the virtual meeting included: Optometrist of the Year
Belinda Starkey, OD '04, Creighton Simmons, OD '90, as recipient of the Myron Shofner Award; and as recipients of the Special Service Awards: Creighton Simmons, OD '90, Matt Jones, OD '09, Belinda Starkey, OD '04, Chev Ergle '04, Bryan Armstrong, OD '00, and Joe Sugg, OD '09.
SCO has at least two 2019 graduates, Drs. Shelby Kruse and Laila Tawfik, who are currently completing their residencies in a New York City hospital. In this report sent over the weekend, Dr. Tawfik writes about the challenges and remarkable experience that they've been encountering:
"Thankfully, we're still doing okay and just taking it one day at a time. Things have definitely been crazy here, and New York comes with its own set of challenges in terms of the virus. As optometry residents in a hospital setting, we're considered essential and we're required to go in each day in case of ocular emergencies.
"It's definitely been a learning curve adjusting to the new normal for a while. For our routine patients, we've switched to telemedicine for the time being, and the hospital is working diligently to implement video calls for our patients. We've created makeshift breath guards (pictured above) for when we do see patients, and of course, we wear masks and gloves while examining them.
"When we're on call for emergency patients, we can now triage over the phone in terms of severity, whereas previously we were required to go in for every call. Nurses check our temperature, once, sometimes twice, per day while we're at work to ensure we're healthy enough to be there.
"Finally, the family medicine floors of our hospital have understandably been overwhelmed with COVID patients. They've called upon us for backup to help wherever we can, so one day per week we're each 'on call' for the family medicine floors whenever they need additional help.
"As I mentioned, living in New York presents with its own set of challenges due to the density of the city. Because so many people rely on public transportation to get around, it's virtually impossible to social distance. Here's some photos (pictured below) I took on my way to work.
"We've been doing our best to shelter in place whenever we're not working or on call. It's very strange to see the city that never sleeps suddenly fall quiet."
Let's all thank Drs. Tawfik and Kruse for helping out in the epicenter of America's COVID outbreak and keep them in our thoughts and prayers for their continued safety!
Several SCO alumni were in the spotlight at the SECO 2020 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia held in early March. Among those who were publicly recognized:
Additional details and photos may be found in this news story.
CDR Emily J. Sprague, OD '04, was recently recognized as Navy Medicine's Senior Optometrist of the Year for 2019. She is currently stationed at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital where she serves as the Director for Clinical Support Services, leading a team of more than 500 personnel across Radiology, Pharmacy, Pathology, Public Health, Medical Readiness, and Virtual Health service lines.
In 2013, Dr. Sprague received Southern College of Optometry's Young Alumni Award, in recognition of a commitment to service, leadership, and support of the college’s mission.