A THRIVING COMMUNITY
History of Optometry in AZ
By Dr. Annette Hanian
How Do We Get There?
These expansions in pharmaceutical scope and access to patients happened slowly by a lot of effort by a lot of different AZOA members over the last several decades. We all do our part by practicing to our fullest scope and to the best of our training. 20% of us assist by contributing with money when it is needed for legislators and projects that assist in our ultimate goals.
A smaller percentage of doctors do the physical effort of attending meetings, testifying, and meeting with legislators. Our past AZOA leaders and past Legislation Committees have carried the load for us by continuing the effort year after year, sometimes with little to show initially because of the time, it takes time to build our Association to the point that bigger things can happen.
Notably Are the “Mount Rushmore” ODs of Arizona:
Don Jarnagin, Bob Maynard, Ken Johnson, and Jack Hostetler (I stole that term from Dr. Tom Determan). These men were the Legislation chairs when we accomplished big things for ODs.In 1982, Dr. Don Jarnagin and Dr. Bob Maynard got us our first topical bill, something that all of us take for granted now. Before their work, we couldn't even use NaFl or tropicamide.
They will say they had help from the vast majority of the members including, but not at all limited to Bruce Burns, Charles Roberts, Bob Lamborn, Geiler's, Vern Roudebush, Dave Atwood, Len Bronstein, Serge Wright, Rich Glonek, and many more. In the years following, members of our association put in endless hours and countless dollars into building relationships with legislators in the key positions to finally get us unrestricted topical medications for the treatment of eye disease.
The Next Time You Treat an Infection or Glaucoma
Think of those past members and their efforts. Once they got us the ability to use therapeutic topical medications, Dr. Ken Johnson and Dr. Jack Hostetler got a full unrestricted orals bill passed in the 1990s but it was vetoed by the Governor. After repeated attempts and a lot more effort and membership participation, they were successful in getting us a restricted list of approved oral medications to treat our patients in 1999.
of how much effort has to go into each scope expansion and how many AZOA members are involved. If you ask any of these men about their legislative efforts, they will tell you some fun stories that include the other AZOA members that helped them and the crazy turns of events that happened along the way. Any of our AZOA Past Presidents have stories of the legislators and collecting signatures and bundling checks and stakeholder meetings and testimony against us. There have been many other Legislation chairs over the years and many, many volunteers (too many to list without excluding some important people). Many of these members that have made our profession what it currently is are now retired.
I Am Happy To Say That There Is a New Generation of Volunteers
That are helping to expand the profession of Optometry. We have new OPACA contributors every year. We have members writing letters to their legislators. We have members collecting qualifying signatures for legislators. A group of AZCOPT students, along with a few of our ODs, collected signatures for Representative Lela Alston and Senator Katie Hobbs. These students volunteered their few precious free hours on the weekends and it went a long way to help the reputation of Optometry at the Capitol. Their dedication has helped to build a lasting symbiotic relationship with legislators.