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    New Jersey Academy of Ophthalmology

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Message from the President

Dear Fellow NJ Ophthalmologists,

I sit here with a sense of Deja Vu as I write my first correspondence of the new year. Much is the same, yet everything has changed. Suffice it to say that this time last year, not one of us expected to be where we are today.

That includes me, as your president of the NJAO. Last fall, the governing board of the NJAO decided to extend the terms of all the officers and governors at large by one year to minimize transitions while we are still dealing with the pandemic. Just to be clear- this was not a coup or a questioning of election results!

When I assumed the role of president this time last year, Coronavirus was a distant but looming threat. We were still travelling and behaving as we were used to, in public and in our offices. The challenges we faced were related to the now seemingly mundane issues of staff, reimbursement and office operations. On an organizational level, we were dealing with the usual advocacy, monitoring state legislation, being vigilant on scope of practice issues, and planning educational opportunities for staff and physicians.

Obviously everything changed at the end of February, when the remote prospect of a shutdown became all-too real. As physicians, we now had to deal with fears of how to care for our patients safely and financially support our families and staff while avoiding a virus that was (and still is) overwhelming our healthcare system and resulting in much death and disability.

Through all of the last 10 months, the NJAO role, and mine as president, has pivoted to providing our membership with vital information regarding finances, operations and patient care in the face of the pandemic. We have made sure that our concerns as ophthalmologists were heard on the state level, whether it involved reopening for elective surgery, office practices and prioritization for vaccination. At the same time, we continued our usual tasks on scope of practice and advocacy and planned (now remote) educational meetings for billing staff, physicians and technicians.

As we turn the calendar to 2021, it is very apparent the pandemic does not respect the calendar. But with many of us and our staff now being vaccinated, there is hope that the latter part of this year will more resemble 2019 than 2020. At least for me, personally, the vaccine means that I no longer fear contracting the virus, although I’m no less vigilant with masks and distancing.

The vaccine presents new challenges, as we must determine what is the best method to encourage our staff to get vaccinated. If you haven’t yet watched Brach Eichler’s webinar on vaccination in the workplace, I would encourage you to do so here:https://www.bracheichler.com/covid-19-resource-center/

My hope for 2021 is that we can hold some of our meetings in person later in the year. Until then, stay safe!

As always, I can be reached with any comments or questions at michael.farbowitz@gmail.com.

Michael Farbowitz, MD
NJAO President, 2021