The Eye Institute of West Florida is reshaping more than just corneas. The multi-specialty ophthalmology practice that patients have been trusting with their eye care for over 40 years, is world-renowned thanks to their commitment to seeking the most advanced treatment options in hopes of providing better visual outcomes and a better overall experience for each patient. The key to achieving their vision lies in how they train their team, based on the concept of ‘continued care,’ a practice that is, you guessed it, reshaping the healthcare industry.
Stephen M. Weinstock, M.D., FACS, one of Tampa Bay’s first ophthalmic surgeons, founded The Eye Institute in 1974. What began as a one-surgeon practice now boasts 28 physicians and seven offices, making it one of the largest multi-specialty ophthalmology practices in Florida.
“Our physicians are accomplished ophthalmologists with subspecialty training in all major areas of ophthalmology,” Dr. Weinstock says. The Eye Institute has a specialist for all of the different ocular conditions, including cataracts; refractive treatments, such as LASIK or a Clear Lens Exchange; glaucoma; retinal diseases, including macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy; and oculoplastic procedures, such as blepharoplasty or eyelid surgery. Each specialist is an ophthalmologist (medical eye doctor) who has completed additional fellowship training for surgery related to a specific ocular disease or condition, making them an expert in that area of ophthalmology.
“This is different from the general ophthalmologist, who has to try to diagnose and treat every eye disease until it gets to where he or she has to refer patients to a practice like ours,” Dr. Weinstock explains. Rather than seeing a general ophthalmologist and being referred to a specialist at a different practice, The Eye Institute of West Florida offers all services in one place. “When a new patient comes in, the examining physician will quickly determine why it is he or she can’t see the way they like. If it’s just a simple matter of prescribing glasses [or contacts], we can do that. But if there is a disease process, we have a specialist who can address and appropriately manage or treat the problem,” Dr. Weinstock continues.
What differentiates The Eye Institute from other practices is the manner in which each employee is trained, from the representatives scheduling a patient’s appointment to the technicians to the surgical staff.
Robert J. Weinstock, M.D., Director of Cataract and Refractive Surgery explains that “Our training process is unique in that we have dedicated team members for each subspecialty. The approach we take to manage the care of our patients is very much a team effort.”
This standardized approach relies on continued training and education, ensuring every employee a patient interacts with is appropriately skilled to address their specific optical concern. To meet this high standard of continued care, The Eye Institute implements mandatory lectures, shadowing, fellowships, meetings and even career advancement opportunities.
“Part of our onboarding process for new employees or anytime we acquire new technology or treatment options is to have one of our specialists provide an educational lecture. For example, when we opened the Dry Eye Center of Excellence, our dry eye subspecialty department of The Eye Institute, our team was required to attend minilectures related specifically to the diagnosis and treatment of dry eye disease,” Dr. Neel Desai, Cataract, Refractive and Cornea Specialist describes.
He adds that, “To truly meet the our standard of care, these lectures often include insight as to how one specific subspecialty may play into another, and as such, the appropriate manner in which to treat a patient. For example, when left untreated, dry eye disease can affect the outcome of cataract surgery. It’s imperative that each member on our team, whether they work primarily with dry eye disease or cataracts, understand how the two relate and the appropriate approach to treatment.”
Another key component to the practices philosophy of continued care is shadowing. Each employee spends time shadowing the physicians, technicians, operations staff and surgical team, allowing them to understand every aspect of the practice and ensuring they are well informed and able to properly educate patients.
Other advanced opportunities within The Eye Institute include fellowships, monthly team meetings and career advancement. Tina Crevello, PA-C joined The Eye Institute with a background in orthopedics and emergency medicine. As a Physician Assistant, she needed to learn more about the eye before seeing patients. She spent her first year at The Eye Institute completing a fellowship, observing and shadowing the doctors, reading and attending educational seminars that took place at the practice.
“Our practice understands that we are only as strong as our team. Our goal is to provide the best patient care and outcomes possible in a safe and caring environment. To achieve this, we place extremely high importance on opportunities to train and educate the staff,” Dr. Robert Weinstock notes.
He summarizes that, “Similar to continued education and training for our staff, the care we provide our patients must be continued. This is a practice that more and more healthcare providers are understanding the importance of and adapting in order to provide a higher level of care.”