Dr José-Ann Cochrane making final touches on designer frames for a patient.
Dr José-Ann Cochrane making final touches on designer frames for a patient.

Residents and visitors of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis for the first time have complete eye care services offered at one location, thanks to the partnership between Optometrist Dr José-Ann Cochrane and the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Precision Optical located at Taylors Range, next to the Solid Waste Management Corporation Headquarters, offers both optometry services (eye exams, spectacle prescription, contact lenses and designer frames) and ophthalmology services (cataract surgery, pterygium surgery, glaucoma surgery, medical treatment and management of eye conditions).

“We went one step further by partnering with a local company which is called Advance Caribbean for those persons who would wish to finance their frames,” said Dr Cochrane. “So we partnered with that company and once you are qualified you will fill out the application and then the process will be taken over by them. That way it encompasses everything in one location. That is what makes us different from the other eye care providers in the market.”

Partnering with Dr José-Ann Cochrane is Surgeon Ophthalmologist Dr Marianela Morales who is resident in Antigua but comes in once a month for cases that have been referred to her by Dr Cochrane and other doctors. However, any surgery would be carried out at the Joseph Nathaniel France General Hospital.

Dr José-Ann Cochrane, who is originally from Antigua and whose service spans twelve years, is the only US-trained Optometrist who is also licenced in the USA practicing in the Federation. She received her first degree in chemistry in 1999 at Florida Atlantic University. After working for a while she enrolled at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico where she graduated in 2006 with a postgraduate degree in Optometry.

She started her career in the British Virgin Islands, and then went to Antigua where she opened her own offices in conjunction with an ophthalmologist, Dr Ian Walwyn. She started coming temporarily back and forth to St. Kitts to practise with a local eye care provider, which later offered her something permanently but she always wanted to venture out on her own.

“When I was thinking about the venture, I went to several different institutions and I had a very favourable response from the Development Bank,” said the optometrist. “That is where our journey began. In particular I would like give a mention to Credit Risk Analyst 2 Ms Loydene Bloice who was very helpful, and also of course to the CEO Mr Lenworth Harris because any of my requests were accommodated by the bank.”

The loan was approved and according to Dr Cochrane, there were two parts to the loan. One part was for the purchase of optical equipment, while the other part was for renovations as the building she had identified in Taylors Range needed quite a bit of renovation to make it user friendly for its new purpose. The business, Precision Optical, opened its doors to the public on Monday February 4 this year.

“One of the things I can advise anyone who wants to go into a business, is to do a lot of homework,” explained Dr Cochrane. “You have to be prepared to meet the criteria of any institution, but in particular when you go to institutions like the Development Bank you find they are a little bit more open than the private financial institutions. They are strict with their guidelines but at the same time they help you along the way and they will meet your request once it is reasonable.”

Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis’ Business Support Officer Mr Manasses Huggins outlined that the Development Bank partnered with the optometrist because it felt the country needed a one-stop eye care support centre where all the patients’ eye care needs are sorted out under one roof without having to refer the patients to another eye care provider.

“The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has a dynamic population and their routine medical needs should be met in an equally dynamic manner,” said Mr Huggins. “We at Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis are cognisant of the fact that a nation’s health is a nation’s wealth and the eye care services being offered by Dr José-Ann Cochrane, and her colleague Dr Marianela Morales, compliment that mantra.”