FORT LORAMIE — Primary Eyecare Associates patients in Fort Loramie too often have had to wait to get appointments with the optometrists there, but that’s about to change.
“We have outgrown 20 S. Main St.,” said optometrist and part-owner Karen Fortman. “So we’ve bought a new building.”
The firm has five offices throughout Shelby County. It opened in Fort Loramie in a 500-square foot space in 1982 and moved to its current 1,400-sqaure-foot location in 1993.
Fortman, her husband, Jim, and Dr. Jeff Ahrns formed a limited liability corporation to purchase a structure at 700 E. Park St. Primary Eyecare will rent space in the former Homedco building. The doctors plan to move in on Jan. 15.
The new operation will permit the optometry practice to open two exam rooms, doubling what’s available in its current Fort Loramie location. That will cut down on the wait time for appointments. But the new office will do more than that.
“When we found a patient needed specialty services, he had to travel to the Sidney office to continue (his) care there,” Fortman said. “We’re going to add clinic space” so travel beyond Fort Loramie won’t be necessary.
The optometrists plan to use 4,800 square feet of the 12,000-square-foot building. The rest of it will be occupied by Eric Loudenback, who has opened eBikes and Fitness there.
In addition to the clinic space and an added exam room, there will be a more spacious frame gallery, “so we can offer more frame styles,” Fortman said, and a small lab for repairs and adjustments.
The expansion will include acquisition of new equipment and an increase in staff. The equipment will allow doctors to perform digital retinal imagining, corneal topography and peripheral visual field testing. By April, those doctors will also offer vision therapy. The communications system in the practice, including phones and computers, will be updated.
The staff will grow by two para-optometric assistants and the whole staff will “have more space to do their jobs,” Fortman said.
Primary Eyecare Associates has eight optometrists on staff, four of whom see patients in Fort Loramie. In the current location, only one optometrist can be at work at a time. In the new space, initially, two will have room to work. Plans call for increasing that to four in the future.
“Optometry is becoming more medical and (optometrists) are more of a patient’s healthcare team than in the past,” Fortman said.
The Fort Loramie practitioners have deep roots in the village. Fortman, Dr. Janessa Simon and Dr. Lauren Grillot grew up and continue to live there. Ahrns is a Minster native and resident.
The whole building project is projected to cost $1 million.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.