Story By Amy Geiszler-Jones - Photography By Kacy Meinecke
Bruce Grene had a vision – to create a doctor-owned practice that combined the three O’s in eye care: ophthalmology, optometry and optical services.
Last year, the business, which traces its roots back nearly 100 years, had one of its biggest years of growth, acquiring new doctors, remodeling and increasing clinical space and breaking ground on a new facility that will open later this year in northwest Wichita, according to Grene Vision Group’s Chief Operating Officer Kayli Smith.
Grene Vision traces its history to the 1920s when Dr. E.D. Carter opened an eye, ear, nose and throat medical practice in Wichita. His son, Dr. Mack Carter, and another partner later joined him, creating the foundation of the current business. Grene Vision Group was formed January 1, 1996, through a merger between The Eye Clinic of Wichita, the successor of Carter’s practice, and Grene Vision Group.
It was a time when managed care was on the horizon, notes Smith, and Dr. Grene envisioned a group that could provide comprehensive eye care for all ages.
Today, it’s one of the largest doctor-owned eye care groups in the United States, focusing on all manner of vision care, including the latest in eyeglass lens technology that’s called “high definition for your eyes” and the most recent FDA-approved treatments.
Grene Vision now has 47 eye doctors – 12 ophthalmologists and 35 optometrists – who work in 21 locations. A third of those locations are in Wichita alone, covering almost every quadrant of the city. The group also has nearly 380 opticians, technicians and support staff. Thousands of patients – from birth throughout life – are seen in the practice every year, say group officials.
“2016 was a great year for growth,” Smith says. “All of this could not have been accomplished without the hard work and dedication of our staff and executive team.”
Among the changes were welcoming four new doctors, adding two locations in Wichita and one in Buhler, remodeling its office at Harry and Rock, and adding five new exam rooms at its northwest Wichita location on Maize, which had opened in 2014.
Next on the list is moving its clinic at 3607 N. Ridge Road, which has 10 exam rooms, to a brand new larger building farther north on Ridge Road that will have 23 exam rooms. Ground for that clinic was broken last year, and the building is expected to be completed later this year.
“We’re seeing more need for eye care,” says Crystal Page, the group’s chief financial officer. Some of it is due to the aging population. Some of it is because of the growing technology and advances that provide for new and better treatments in eye care.
A few years ago, Grene Vision added neuro-ophthalmology services, becoming the first practice in Kansas outside of the Kansas City area to offer the subspecialty. That addition “allowed for us to offer the complete coverage of eye services and subspecialties,” Smith says.
“With all the shared knowledge among the doctors, we have an ability to care for a patient in a timely manner,” Page adds.
One of its doctors recently began offering a new treatment, approved only months ago by the FDA, called corneal crosslinking, a minimally invasive procedure for those who have keratoconus, a progressive eye condition.
Grene Vision’s full-service, in-house lab also offers the latest in lens technology – digital free-form lenses.
“(The technology) increases the precision when manufacturing the lens to provide better vision throughout the lens,” Smith says.
Not only can patients look fashionable in frames ranging from classic to more colorful, bolder styles, patients will see better with a highly customized lens. Because one’s vision is sharper and more vivid with free-form lenses, some in the industry liken the difference to going from an analog television to one with high definition.
Grene Vision’s doctors also see patients at 13 medical and surgical satellite clinics within the state and provide vision care for the uninsured and underinsured through local outreach programs such as Medical Service Bureau, Grace Med and Project Access.