Home Ownership Models After 15 Years as Employee, OD Was Ready for a Change of...

After 15 Years as Employee, OD Was Ready for a Change of Pace

Adriana Palumbo, OD, spent many years on a steady career path. She graduated from the New England College of Optometry in 1999, and, after an ocular disease residency, joined an ophthalmology practice in northern New Jersey.

One of the practice locations was in St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, and Dr. Palumbo worked there nearly four days a week. “I was the go-to eye doctor for the hospital; I was even seeing patients in the ICU,” she says. “I really did enjoy it there, and I learned so much.”

But after being a part of a bigger operation for so many years, “I was ready for a change,” she says. “The next step was finding a practice of my own” and taking more control of her own life. She and her husband have three children.

“I started a search and waited until I found something that was a perfect fit. I wanted to be close to home [in Wayne, New Jersey], and I wanted to buy an established practice. And that was it. I just waited for something to come my way,” she says.

Dr. Palumbo put word out to others in the profession that she was looking for a practice and found what she wanted: West Milford Vision Center, a solo practice established by Ken Bair, OD, who was ready to retire. They closed the sale at the end of June.

She started that career shift with a makeover of the practice itself. It’s in a small house that had been turned into an optometry office. Dr. Palumbo bought that property along with the practice. “We ripped up the carpet, installed tile and new cabinets, and gutted the optical space and removed a couple of walls.” The practice was closed for a month.

It was a big change, too, for the practice’s four staff members. “They were wonderful,” she says. They worked from their homes to handle patient requests for contact lenses and would meet patients in the practice parking lot to hand them the supplies. Sometimes they’d deliver to the patient’s home. Staff meetings were held on the practice’s back porch or at the local Dunkin’ Donuts.

Another immediate change is the addition of Saturday hours, something the practice had not previously offered. A lot of people in West Milford commute more than an hour into Manhattan. The practice has evening hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but sometimes it’s not late enough for those patients, she says.

Her long-term plans include a possible expansion of the practice building; there’s room behind the main building for an addition, so if she gets busy enough, she may one day hire an associate. “It’s a work in progress,” she says.

Click on the doctors’ photos below to read their stories.

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