FORT MYERS, FLA., April 22, 2020 —Residents who need eye care and have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, have no health insurance and are in financial hardship may now receive a virtual eye appointment from Quigley Eye Specialists at no charge. Upon completion of a financial affidavit, those in need may have fees that insurance would normally cover completely waived.
“Service to our community has been our mission since Thomas A. Quigley founded our practice more than 30 years ago,” said Dr. Duane Wiggins, Board Certified Ophthalmologist and Cataract and Refractive Surgeon at Quigley Eye Specialists. “Giving back is an important part of our everyday lives. We are proud of the fact that we have performed more than 2,000 free surgeries for those without insurance or means to pay because they were at risk of going blind without the needed procedure.”
Extending eyecare to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is the next natural step for Quigley Eye Specialists. Waiving fees to help residents who need to see an eye doctor but don’t have the resources to pay for it is the responsible thing to do, he added.
Residents do not need to be a current patient of Quigley Eye Specialists to obtain virtual eye exams or have the fee waived. “Any patient who has an eye concern can now access this safe way to see a doctor without leaving their home,” said Dr. Wiggins. “While we cannot do dilation online, we can uncover visible eye concerns that may involve obtaining a prescription for medication. If it is an emergency or cannot be handled online, we certainly can make an appointment for an in-office visit.”
For those with current insurance coverage, Medicare has waived co-pays for patients who use telehealth services during the COVID-19 emergency for common office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings, such as eye exams. Some private insurers also are waiving co-pays.
Dr. Wiggins said there is also an emotional benefit to the virtual appointments. “When we visit with patients in their homes via virtual eye appointments, we are able to connect. For many patients, this is the only human connection they have during this time of social distancing,” he said.
Virtual appointments may be the new normal for a long time. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the pandemic is expected to pose a threat until a vaccine is made. Therefore, social distancing guidelines may continue for the next 18 months.