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Optical office success not an illusion

Best of the Foothills: Dr. Mark Pitcher and Okotoks Eyecare voted best place for optical/optician in the 2020 awards
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Okotoks Eyecare's Dr. Mark Pitcher. (Wheel File Photo)

An Okotoks optician is all about the patient experience.

Dr. Mark Pitcher and Okotoks Eyecare won the Gold award for best place for optical/optician in this year’s Best of the Foothills Readers’ Choice Awards contest. Eyes 360 received the Silver and IRIS took the Bronze-level award.

“We consider it a great honour and we’re grateful for the graciousness of those people who voted for us,” said Pitcher. “We just try our best to make sure that our patients’ needs are addressed and they feel comfortable and they feel like they’re being listened to.”

The practice isn’t new to town. Pitcher, who has been in Okotoks for more than 25 years, took over from Dr. Vic Sillanpaa, who had opened the office in 1982 and moved to High River.

“We’ve always appreciated the support from our patients at Okotoks Eyecare and we look forward to their continued support,” said Pitcher.

Patients have been the key of developing the practice, which has outgrown two locations – one on Elizabeth Street and an office at the Cornerstone shopping area next to Starbucks. This summer, Okotoks Eyecare moved across the parking lot to a new office in the former Payless Shoes space.

The move hasn’t been easy during COVID-19, but Pitcher said it’s all coming together amidst the chaos.

“Building a new office in this environment has been very challenging, but in spite of that, because of staff and the patience of our patients, and our construction people who have been doing their best to make things work, and our computer support and vendors who help us with new equipment and such, we’re working through it,” he said.

The new office will provide extra space, allowing Pitcher to hire more doctors and have them be able to work increased hours. It will also allow the office to provide more services to comply with the increased scope of practice for optometrists in Alberta, such as prescribing, dispensing or selling oral and topical medications, managing and treating glaucoma independently, ordering and analyzing lab tests, and ordering and applying ultrasound.

“We needed more space to be able to offer those services,” said Pitcher.