A collection of black and white photos stretched across Dr. Dan Denney’s desk – or, as he later points out, his father’s desk.
The Photographs show a history of what would become Denney Vision. Dr. Calvin Denney was seen as a young soldier in 1945; during his Optometry training in 1950; when he moved his family to Dothan in 1958 to enter practice with Dr. Rollins Tindell on West Main Street downtown; with the four staff members who helped get things going in the Optometry practice; and with his family.
“For me, the neat thing that my father did was he was always very innovative,” Dan Denney said. “He and Rollins Tindell were the first ones anywhere nearby who were optometrists that had their own surfacing lab. They did the whole thing. You could get one-hour service years ago before anybody thought about it. And we had a trade area within the tri-state area. It was just tremendous. ”
In 1981, Calvin Denney bought the practice from Tindell, and the business became Denney Vision in 1983. It grew over the years with Dan Denney, who joined the practice in 1988, eventually buying and taking over the practice in 2010. Calvin Denney died in 2016 at the age of 89.
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At least some of the photographic history will be part of a tribute wall to Dr. Calvin Denney at Denney Vision’s new location on the campus of Health Center South. Of course, the practice will no longer be known as Denney Vision but rather Vision Center South.
It’s the final step in the 2019 Merger between Denney Vision and Dothan Ophthalmology practice Eye Center South. With the Merger, the Optometry practice was rebranded as Vision Center South. It became an Optometric division of Eye Center South and has been referred to as Vision Center South at Denney Vision.
As the two practices continue to integrate services, the move will have benefits for both Optometry and Ophthalmology patients, Dr. Marnix Heersink, co-founder of Eye Center South with Dr. John Fortin, said.
“We’re envisioning this as an opportunity to start working collaboratively or in partnerships,” Heersink said.
Denney Vision formally closed its doors on Friday. The new Vision Center South opens June 15.
It’s a bittersweet time for Dan Denney.
On one hand, he’s leaving the professional space his father helped create, but on the other hand he, the other Denney Vision Physicians, employees, and patients will have a new space with the newest equipment available in Optometry, room to grow, and plenty of parking – a common complaint from Denney’s patients.
What will become of the original Denney Vision building is unknown. Denney Vision fills a good chunk of the 100 block of East Main Street in downtown Dothan, sandwiched between the Cherry & Irwin law firm and Eye Care Associates.
Leaving the original space, Denney can only see the building with fondness despite the parking woes and the growing pains that came as the practice grew.
“When you get this close to things, you look back and go ‘It wasn’t that bad,’” Denney said. “Downtown’s special, but being over there with that medical practice, it will be good… Everything is brand-spanking new.”
With the move, patients will enter through a covered entrance across from the Surgical Center South entrance. They will be greeted with an elegant space located just past the Health South medical tower’s main lobby and across from The Cellar cafe. Glass doors open up to the optical showroom, a waiting area and a check-in desk that features a lighted waterfall Illuminating the Vision Center South logo. In all, the Vision Center South space is 23,000 square feet on three different levels connected by an employee elevator. There will be 25 exam rooms, 10 screening rooms and six testing rooms.
All the Denney Vision staff members are making the move with some new positions being added, Denney said. The practice’s call center, which averages about 500 calls a day – has already made the move to the Health South campus.
The patient entrance, optical showroom and exam rooms are all on the main floor. A scaled-down optical showroom will carry all the same brands Denney Vision patients are customized to and will also feature work areas for 12 employees who will assist patients with their frame and lens selections. A separate counter is set up for patients to pick up their new glasses.
Denney Vision’s laboratory will continue to operate, although with all new digital equipment.
There are many touches located throughout the new site that not all patients may appreciate – a privacy wall in the contact lens fitting area for those still adjusting to putting in contact lenses, such as Younger patients. As the space was being planned in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there are small sinks in each exam room. There is also room for new procedures to be performed if Alabama allows optometrists to expand their practice to include dry eye and other procedures. Waiting rooms located between exam spaces feature dimmer lights for those who have had their eyes dilated and may have sensitivity to brighter lights.
Each optometrist will have their own “wing” of exam and screening rooms with only the newest optometrists sharing space with more experienced professionals who can help guide them as they begin their careers.
And although the Optometry practice will no longer carry the Denney Vision name, Heersink said it was important to recognize the contributions Dr. Calvin Denney and Dr. Dan Denney have made in Dothan, which is why space was dedicated to the tribute wall.
Heersink said the age of the Denney Vision building would eventually make utilizing advanced equipment a challenge. He sees many benefits in having the Optometry practice on the same campus, but they emphasize that Eye Center South will continue working with other Optometry practices in the area.
“We have a very good relationship with all of the optometrists in the area, and we are certainly not intending to be competitive with that; we’re just supplementing, ”Heersink said. “We are not cutting off the rest of the world. In fact, we’re trying to expand all these connections. ”
Heersink got the possibility of benefits in costs, expertise and Collaboration, which will lead to better patient care.
“We’re better off if we stick together and do it so that we do these things efficiently and do them well financially and do them so that the patients – who are the real, real drivers of our business – they’re the ones that benefit because of our new way of organizing and a new way of improving things for them, ”Heersink said. “… The winners in all of this should be the patients.”
Peggy Ussery is a Dothan Eagle staff Writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-712-7963. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by Purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.