The NCOS is working harder than ever to bring our members the most important, relevant, and up-to-date information and getting it to you through our email updates and this webpage, which is continuously being updated.

These are unprecedented times. The NCOS remains committed to each of our 1,000+ members and we are here to assist you in any way we can. Thank you for your continued support. Together, we will get through this.


Latest NCOS Announcements

4/8/21: The NCOS has opened registration for its limited capacity Spring Congress to NCOS members.

2/22/21: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NCOS will be holding a one-day Virtual Spring Seminar and is tentatively planning a lower-capacity, socially-distanced Spring Congress, dependent on the climate of the pandemic in June

8/3/20: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting state and federal guidelines restricting large gatherings, Fall Congress 2020 will now be held virtually.

6/23/20: All NCOS and AOA dues waiver refunds have been completed. If you have questions about your 2020 dues waiver, contact [email protected].

6/2/20: The NCOS put out a press release about the new protocols practices are implementing to keep patients safe as they return to providing a full range of eye health and vision care.

5/12/20: The NCOS put out a press release warning patients to be cautious of "at-home eye exam" or "vision test" product claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.

5/4/20: In an effort to help practices across North Carolina reopen and start seeing patients, the NCOS has drafted the following guide: Reopening North Carolina Optometry

5/1/20: The NCOS is now taking orders for three types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The deadline to place an order is 4:00 PM on Wednesday, May 6th. 

4/30/20: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting state and federal guidelines restricting large gatherings, Spring Congress 2020 will now be held virtually.

4/29/20: The NCOS has partnered with Ward & Smith, P.A. to bring members another exclusive webinar about COVID-19 employment issues. See below for more information.

4/28/20: The NCOS is now taking pre-orders for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and has also compiled a list of potential resources for PPE. Click here for details.

4/21/20: The NCOS put out a press release cautioning against avoidable ER visits for primary eye care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

4/13/20: The NCOS partnered with Ward & Smith, P.A. to bring members an exclusive webinar about COVID-19 employment issues. See below for more information.

4/9/20: Complete details regarding our commitment to waive two months of 2020 dues to all members was sent out. Click here to view the message.

3/25/20: The NCOS and AOA announce they will be providing immediate financial assistance to all members by waiving 2020 membership dues for a period of two months. More details to follow.


Vaccine Information

On January 14, 2020, NCDHHS announced that they have again updated the vaccine prioritization planThe new plan makes anyone age 65 and older and all health care workers eligible to receive the vaccine now. Previously, most health care workers where in Phase 1b, Group 2 or 3 depending on age.

  1. Health care workers (with in-person patient contact) & Long-Term Care staff and residents (current)
  2. Adults 65+ (current)
  3. Frontline essential workers
  4. Adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness
  5. Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination

For more information, click here.

Also, after continued outreach by Dr. Rebecca Wartman, NCOS Third Party Liaison, to NC DHHS, we are pleased to announce that OPTOMETRISTS are now specifically named in the list of health care workers eligible to receive the vaccine in its DEEPER DIVE Group 1 – Health Care Workers and Long-Term Care Staff and Resident document. You should refer to this document when reaching out to your county about getting vaccinated.

The document also states that health care employers should:

  • Contact their local health department to coordinate vaccination opportunities for their employees
  • Understand that the ability for local health departments to schedule appointments will depend on the supply of vaccine available

Visit www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov/findyourspot to find where to get the shot near you. The supply in most counties continues to be very limited. The state also announced that it will be holding mass vaccination events in 21 counties. Anyone who is eligible for the vaccine will be able to attend one of the events and receive a shot. Some of the providers may require an appointment. Click here for details.

The NCOS is actively tracking the counties that optometrists have been able to get vaccinated in based on information we receive from our members - www.nceyes.org/vaccine-appt-information. If you have any updated information, please contact Paul Kranze at [email protected] so we can update the webpage.


NCOS Email Updates

The NCOS is sending out COVID-specific emails to all members with the latest and most important information. During this time of crisis, we are making these emails available to all North Carolina optometrists, regardless of whether you are a member or not.

You can view all of our emails here.


Guide to Reopening North Carolina Optometry

In an effort to help practices across North Carolina reopen and start seeing patients, the NCOS has drafted the following guide: Reopening North Carolina Optometry (this guide was updated on 5/21/20)

This guidance was developed with input from the NC Board of Optometric Examiners. 

Please use this to help guide your reopening process.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The NCOS has compiled a list of potential PPE resources. We will continue to update this information as more resources become available. Supply levels for PPE change often – some sources below may have equipment immediately available, others may not. We recommend checking these sources routinely, after utilizing your normal resources for PPE.


NCOS Webinars

NCOS has partnered with Ward and Smith, P.A. to bring NCOS members two exclusive webinars.

What: 20/20 Vision - A Further Look Into COVID-19 Employment Issues
When: Thursday, May 7th
Speaker: Ken Gray, Labor and Employment Attorney at Ward and Smith, P.A.
Details: This webinar reviewed more COVID-19-related employment issues that may affect members, including recent updates from the Department of Labor, and member questions were answered.

Watch Now

What: 20/20 Vision - A look Into COVID-19 Employment Issues
When: Thursday, April 16th
Speaker: Ken Gray, Labor and Employment Attorney at Ward and Smith, P.A.
Details: This webinar reviewed COVID-19-related employment issues that may affect members and member questions were answered.

Watch Now

View PowerPoint Slides

 Ken Gray is the leader of Ward and Smith, P.A.'s labor and employment group. His practice experience encompasses various areas of employment-related litigation. He advises clients and litigates cases involving all forms of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, and breach of employment contracts from small start-up companies to Fortune 500 corporations. Ken is a frequent lecturer on employment discrimination, workplace retaliation, workers' compensation, and wage and hour law issues. To read Ken's full bio, click here.


NCOS Third Party Assistance

Having an issue with a payor? Please let us know! We are here to help with any issues. Email us at [email protected]


State Resources

Websites

North Carolina State Board of Examiners in Optometry
COVID-19 Advisories
The NCSBEO has issued 11 advisories. The latest advisory was issued on 12/9/20.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
COVID-19 Response in North Carolina
COVID-19 and NC Medicaid

North Carolina Department of Commerce
COVID-19 Information for Employers and Individuals

North Carolina Department of Insurance
COVID-19 News, Information, Bulletins, and Advisories


National Resources

Websites

American Optometric Association
COVID-19 Latest Updates
AOA COVID-19 Webinar Series

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
COVID-19 Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
COVID-19 Information and Guidance

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS)
COVID-19 Program Guidance

OSHA
COVID-19 Resources

Palmetto GBA
COVID-19 Resources
Latest Articles

American Academy of Ophthalmology
COVID-19 Updates

Documents

AOA General Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Employee Mandate (1/14/21)
COVID-19 Considerations on Contact Lens Insertion & Removal Training During The Public Health Emergency
 (6/24/20)
What To Do If a Staff Member Tests Positive For COVID-19 (6/8/20)


NCOS Partner Support

ABB Optical Group
ABB Optical Group Supports NCOS Members With Five New Initiatives And Resources In Response To COVID-19 (3/26/20) 

Allergan
As offices begin to reopen, Allergan knows safety is a priority. To reassure your patients that their safety is always top of mind, they’ve partnered with members of the community to create a video welcoming them back. This short video also helps patients understand what they can expect as they return to appointments in your office. (6/22/20)

Allergan Is Easing The Financial Impact For Your Patients And Your Practice (4/2/20)

Allergan can help alleviate some of the stress of obtaining REFRESH® for your patients who may be unable to purchase it directly at your practice. The REFRESH® eCommerce platform allows patients to purchase their preferred REFRESH® products from your own RefreshMyEyes™ online store. Products will be shipped directly to patients within 3 to 5 days without the need for you to be in your office or physically stocking product. Shipping is free on any orders over $30 ($4.95 otherwise). 

Visit www.refreshbrand.com/ecommerce to register and get started. Click here for an information flyer and here to view a video demo on how the program works. 

Cooper Vision
CooperVision Resources to Support Eyecare Practices (4/14/20)

Contact Lens Institute Shares New CDC Guidance for Contact Lens Wear and COVID-19 (4/10/20)

Helpful Information Regarding COVID-19 and Contact Lens Wear

MyEyeDr.
A message from MyEyeDr. (4/14/20)

VSP
Check out VSP's COVID-19 provider resource portal and Provider Facebook page regularly for new updates.

Zeiss
Free Slit Lamp Breath Shields For Your Office


NC Company Supports Optometry's Disaster Relief Fund

ImageMark Business Services, a printing, branding and marketing company located in Gastonia, NC, has recently begun providing COVID-19 signage and other related resources specifically designed for eye care. 

ImageMark has created floor stickers for social distancing, hand-washing reminders for restrooms, banners for sharing office protocols, face masks and shields, hand sanitizer and other PPE (some of which can be branded), and they have a disinfectant that is FDA-approved for killing the COVID-19 virus.

Click here for a product flyer with a special savings code. View their entire line of safety products at www.safe-distance-products.com.

In recognition of the recent public unrest across the nation where many eye care practices were damaged, a percentage of sales from eye care products will be donated to the AOA’s Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief.