Monday, November 20, 2017

Inside a visionary new partnership

by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud

Dr. Kenneth C. Westfield recently announced that his 31-year-old Las Vegas ophthalmology practice has completed a merger that makes it the largest eye care center in the state. In an interview with Black Image, Westfield discussed how the partnership came to be, his new charitable foundation and reveals the No. 1 reason he enjoys the profession.

Tell us about your new business venture.
The biggest thing that my company has done is that we have just completed a merger with Nevada Eye & Ear.  The name of the new entity is Westfield Nevada Eye & Ear.  This makes us the largest eye care provider in the state of Nevada.  We now have 19 doctors and five locations throughout the Las Vegas Valley. We are very excited about it, because it is going to allow us to take our business to another level – not only in the customer service we provide, but also the added benefits we will now be able to offer to our patients and employees. Patients will be able to come to our centers with almost any type of insurance and still be seen.  Patients will not have to worry about going anywhere else for their eye and ear medical needs.  We will be able to take care of them right here.  Another real benefit of the merger is that we are now able to offer specialists to our patients in all areas of eye care.

How did the merger come to be?
Well, I’ve known the owner of Nevada Eye & Ear, Dr. Rudy Manthei, for years now.  We have worked together along with some other eye-care providers.  It just appeared to us to be a good strategic business fit.  Rather than collaborate, ([we can]) be true partners to take advantage of the benefits of being a large practice.  I have to admit, it didn’t happen overnight, but it is now complete and we are very happy.
Will this new venture require more of your time?
Quite the contrary.  It will allow me more time to work with my Gift of Sight Foundation, which is a charity I founded that provides the funding, staff, supplies and the medications to help people in different parts of the world to gain or regain their vision.  We have already gone to Haiti, Vietnam and the Philippines this year to provide eyeglasses and cataract surgery for the less fortunate. We have another trip scheduled for Vietnam this October and possibly to Liberia, Africa, later this fall.

What about your new solar initiative?
We have several locations for our practice, but our main location is 2575 Lindell Road, south of Sahara Avenue.  This is the largest building – 15,000 square feet – that we own outright.  We were paying between $2,000 to $3,000 a month in power for the building.  We decided to make the building solar after we researched all the incentives offered by the government and the power company, which offset the cost of the conversion.  I would encourage other small businesses to consider for the savings. Now, we save $1,200 to $1,500 a month on our power bill.  If every business in Las Vegas would go solar, our energy problems could be solved.

Are African-Americans more susceptible to glaucoma than other races?
Yes, that is correct. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in Haiti.  It is a genetic trait in black people that has to do with the anatomy of the eye and how it develops. Black peoples’ eye anatomy is slightly different, and the mechanism for getting the pressure or the fluid out is difficult. Nevertheless, we have certain advantages that also protect us against other conditions because of our pigmentation. There is always a trade off in these genotypic conditions.

What drives you to keep doing what you are doing?
Because it is fun.

Have you ever gotten someone to see better?
It is a tremendous feeling to see and hear the response from someone who comes to you blind and walks out being able to see for the first time. Seriously, it is a tremendous feeling to get people to see and change their lives.  Once you do it, you will be hooked and want to do it again and again.

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