Erika Morrow, OD, MS, planned to purchase a practice near her hometown in Colorado after she earned her degree doctorate of optometry and masters of vision science from University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry in 2016. But a month before graduation, the doctor contacted her to tell her that he wasn’t ready to sell.
Dr. Morrow pressed pause on her dream of practice ownership and joined a group practice as an associate. There were benefits, such as colleagues to share ideas with as well as excellent resources for training, yet Dr. Morrow felt confined by the lack of flexibility in scheduling and having no voice in decision-making. When Dr. Morrow and her husband Brian moved to Savannah, Georgia, in 2017 for better opportunities for his career, she started working in a private practice, but the fit wasn’t quite right.
So one day, as they were walking through local Forsyth Park, Dr. Morrow and her husband decided it was time to take the plunge; they even named the practice right there—ForSight—for its similarity to the park’s name. Dr. Morrow says that she knew she wanted to open in Savannah, so she hired a real estate agent who specialized in health care. She says his assistance led her to finding her office spot in the historic district in the summer of 2018, after her own searches led her to owners who didn’t want to sell or lease. The building that is home to ForSight Unique Eye Care and Eye Wear was built in 1914, and it has more than 60,000 square feet. Her office takes up about 2,100 square feet.
The Savannah Historic Tax Credit helped preserve this building, as well as hundreds of others since the early 2000s. The agency helped her leaseholder, Flyway, with a credit to complete the building’s renovation. The space’s previous occupant had been a Thrifty Supply Center lumber store, but it had been vacant for years and didn’t even have floors. She was able to maintain the original tin ceiling and a unique staircase that leads to the upstairs. While Dr. Morrow doesn’t occupy that second floor, she was happy to keep this interesting focal point.
She kept as many of the historical details as she could, although the local rules wouldn’t allow her to keep any of the gray brick exposed, she found other pieces she could add. The French doors in the office were from a nearby house, the Mercer Cottage, which was being deconstructed. Her frame board shelving was formerly wooden trim from the Forsyth Mansion, and local woodworkers put them together to make shelves for the optical shelving. She stayed on the hunt for these unique pieces over the year leading up to her opening in August 2019.
Dr. Morrow is equipped with one exam room and all of the must-have technology on her starting wish list. She knew she wanted a premium slit lamp, and technology from Optos was important as she had seen how beneficial it was for diagnoses and patient education in practices where she previously worked. She soon added a Maestro OCT for gaining confidence in clearance of the limbus when fitting scleral lenses and a visual field for monitoring glaucoma patients. She’s seeing a mix of patients from retirees to students who attend the Savannah College of Art and Design.
The local historic district community magazines have been helpful in advertising her new business, and she’s also found success with some radio spots. Social media, particularly Instagram, has driven in quite a number of patients, too. “I’m the only eye doctor in this ZIP code, and I get at least four to six referrals from Instagram per week.” She’s found it’s essential to keep up on all of her online presences from promoting events to sharing patient reviews. Her phone system, Weave, sends out a request for a review after every patient exam, and she’s already collected more than 75 on Google in just six months.
Dr. Morrow looks forward to building the scleral lens portion of the business in the coming months, and she’s planning her first frame show for 2020 to showcase the unique styles that she carries. She been supporting the Savannah Center for the Blind and Low Vision since she opened and will continue to raise funds for this local organization. She’s introduced herself as a specialist to all of the optometrists in a 10-mile radius, and she’s connected with a local corneal specialist for referrals.
Ultimately, she’d like to add another doctor who would work in the practice and they would alternate to maximize time off.
Early Job Inspires Career
Dr. Erika Morrow is grateful for the guidance from the ophthalmologist who she worked for out of high school, James Conahan, MD, who encouraged her to pursue optometry. She earned her certification as an ophthalmic assistant and national contact lens examiner while working in his practice and found that she loved the profession. Dr. Morrow is the only of one of her seven siblings to go to college, and this MD helped apply and even funded some of her undergraduate studies to help her pursue her dream.