Dr. Paul Koch recalled the paucity of patients after opening the city’s first Koch Eye Associates office in July of 1981.
Paul, his sister, Dr. Dorothy “Patty” and brother Peter didn’t have a single appointment one afternoon. The place was silent, so they decided to see a matinee showing of the new film at the time, ET: The Extraterrestrial. Before leaving they informed the telephone answering service they would be out of the office. And when they got back they checked with the service expectantly. There hadn’t been a single call.
Paul Koch told the story Tuesday at the opening of what is now the sixth Koch Eye Associates office to open in Warwick since the practice was established. It’s a spacious, well-lit facility at 615 Greenwich Ave, Suite 10, around the corner from Arooga’s. For Paul it’s the “Apex” office since the shopping plaza is where the Apex department store used to be.
“We started off from scratch,” said Paul to a gathering that included employees, friends and family and Mayor Scott Avedisian.
He traced the evolution from that first office to the building on Toll Gate Road not all that far from Kent Hospital. The Koches sold the building, opting for the improved parking, visibility and potential to expand in the new location. Koch is a division of Claris Vision that operates from 17 locations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Paul Koch wasn’t the only one with a story Tuesday night. Mayor Avedisian had one, too.
The late Peter Koch, who ran the business end of the company, was a member of the board of the Rhode Island Mentor Partnership and asked the mayor to attend a fundraising event at the West Valley Inn about 15 years ago. Avedisian said he was running late and he arrived in the midst of an auction. He was instantly asked if he was bidding, and Avedisian, not sure what it was all about, said yes. He had just bought a Lasik eye procedure. Paul Koch was one of the first doctors in the state to perform the procedure.
Being so new, the Beacon sent along a reporter and photographer to cover the story. As it turned out, the photographer became more of the story than the mayor. Lying on his back and under the operating lights, Avedisian said he heard a loud thump. He couldn’t imagine what was happening until it was explained that the photographer had fainted. The procedure was a success, restoring Avedisian’s sight.
“You might say,” he said, “Koch Eye gave me my vision for the City of Warwick.”
Paul Koch said the environment improves with each opening of a new location.
“Every time we make an office we make it better,” he said.
He also has a way of making it unique, too. Koch said he wasn’t going to have wine and cheese at the opening. He was looking for something different. That explained why everyone was sipping Del’s. After a swig from his cup, Koch smiled.
“Happily, things have been successful,” he said.