Dear Colleagues:

As I sit down to write my first words as RIOA President, I find myself wondering what exactly it is I want to convey.  Immediately, my thoughts turn to the past presidents of this Association - the leaders of our profession.  We're indebted to all of them and I look forward to one day joining their ranks.   

To get there, however, I must leave my own mark on the RIOA and, like them, eye care in Rhode Island.  It's not hyperbole:  the stakes are high; they always have been. And there's only one voice dedicated to optometry in our state - the RIOA.  I'm proud to be leading it. 

Dr. Parks

I'd like to share some things about me. I've been married for over 30 years to my wife June.  A Rhode Island licensed pharmacist, she is a wonderful mother to our two adult aged children. Tyler , a cybersecurity scientist at the navy base in Newport and a volunteer firefighter, and Lindsay, a high school teacher Chemistry, Biology and Forensics teacher in the Chariho School District.  I'm a big sports fan who is passionate about URI basketball and all teams in the Boston area.  

As your President, protecting the doctor-patient relationship and access to the care we provide my priorities.   To me, it's personal... and for good reason!

I feel deeply indebted to our chosen profession, for the practice I've built and the opportunity to provide care to my patients in my practice in Rhode Island and within the Boston Veterans Affairs Health Care System, where I have worked for over thirty years  Quite honestly, the relationships I have developed with all my patients help define who I am today.   I am inheriting a strong and proven Association. The board of directors is a healthy mix of seasoned and relatively new leaders. They are unsung heroes, who put in more work behind the scenes than anyone realizes. All are looking to continue to make their own mark on our profession and many of them will likely serve in this position in the future.  Dr. Brian Kiley, as the presidents before him, has left a strong association.  

He is truly a tough act to follow!

Quick aside:  Please join us on March 2, 2019 immediately following the Saturday Nose to the Grindstone CE Program.  It'll mark a time to thank our leaders and volunteers.  We'll recognize a few doctors personally and it'll be great to have you there.  You can find more details by clicking here.  There is no cost to attend and it's a great way to network socially and end a very strong CE day. Please join us!

Of course, none of the RIOA's work is possible without our member-doctors.  Our members join the RIOA because they understand (and place a real value on) the idea that ours is the only Association dedicated to working every day on your and your patients' behalf.  One of goals is to increase membership. We need all members to encourage nonmember optometrists in join RIOA. There is strength in numbers! The more members working toward our common goals the greater our chance of success.

The RIOA's work is important on many, many levels and on varying fronts.  Time and time again, the RIOA is out there defending and advancing who we are and what we do. And who is the RIOA?  It's the volunteer members who lend their time and talents to our cause. I strongly encourage every member to volunteer to help the Association meet its goal. Even if it's only one thing you do, like contact a state rep or senator or attend a fundraiser, we can accomplish much more to protect and move our profession forward with the help of all of our members.  I especially encourage young RIOA members to volunteer. Don't wait to get involved! Please contact RIOA Executive Director Tim Bonin at 401-949-0433 to find out ways you can help.

The results speak for themselves and the list is far too long to recite here (although successes and the benefits of joining the RIOA are well documented on our website, RIOA.org). 

There is one thing not posted online yet but I wanted you to be one of the first to know.... 

Earlier this year BCBSRI launched a "new benefit" / marketing ploy announcing a no co-pay visit for certain subscribers. The new policy confused our patients - their subscribers - diminished the profession and the complex care we provide and placed optometrists directly in the line of fire between the insurer. The issues with this new policy were identified and addressed by the RIOA's 3rd Party quickly.  It needed quick and decisive correction.  We have learned of a substantial change in policy is forthcoming. 

The change was spurred on and made possible due to the rigorous defense of the profession, the services we provide and the patients best interest.  My intention over the next two years is to be an impactful leader, to grow our ranks, get more members to volunteer to contribute to the RIOA's efforts, and keep our Association's momentum going.  Together we will accomplish great things! 

Sincerely,  

Robert Parks, OD

President