Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Lasik patients in the dark after doctors walk out


New ownership delays treatments

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Lasik Vision USA's laser eye-surgery center in Kenwood has shut down operations and postponed scheduling treatments for new patients for at least a month.

        Calls Tuesday to the Lasik center on Montgomery Road were answered with a recorded voice message: “At this time, we are not rescheduling pre-exam or surgery appointments. We will be contacting patients with updates as information becomes available to us.”

PATIENT STATUS
    Lasik patients concerned about their status can call (888) 673-3937 toll-free.
        An operator at Lasik's U.S. call center said Tuesday that no new appointments would be scheduled before April 15.

        The shutdown of Lasik's Kenwood center follows the recent acquisition of its operating company, Vancouver-based Lasik Vision Corp., by another Canadian firm, ICON Laser Eye Center Inc. of Toronto. ICON closed the deal for Lasik last week.

        But a walkout by Lasik surgeons who claim they haven't been paid since December forced ICON to shut down all 25 Lasik eye-surgery centers in North America, Joe Krupa, a spokesman for ICON, told the Vancouver Sun.

        Mr. Krupa could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but he told the newspaper that the company planned to issue a news release this week.

        Meanwhile, Lasik patients in the Cincinnati area have been left in the lurch. Some have even complained that their $1,000 refundable deposit was not immediately returned after Lasik canceled their surgeries.

        The state Attorney General's Office in Columbus has registered two complaints this year, a spokeswoman said. One has been resolved, and the other is pending, she said.

        Some former Lasik patients have scrambled to competitor LCA-Vision Inc., according to officials there. LCA-Vision has its headquarters on Montgomery Road, less than a mile from the Lasik Vision center.

        Lasik moved into the Cincinnati market in May and offered vision-correction procedures for as little as $998 for both eyes.

        LCA-Vision's lowest price is about twice that amount.

        It's not clear what the closures and layoffs at the Lasik centers will mean for prices.

       



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