Eye on the Future: Retina Specialty Institute ~ Transforming Retina & Patient Care Each Day

A visionary is described as “a person with unusually keen foresight”.


Sunil Gupta, MD

Sunil Gupta, MD, Founder of Retina Specialty Institute (RSI), Pensacola, FL, is certainly a visionary in the retina community. Dr. Gupta attended the Clinton Global Initiative, CGI, in 2012. CGI’s mission is to turn ideas into action. CGI was established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convened global and emerging leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. One pressing issue in the United States is transitioning our military service veterans from active duty to full-time employment after they are honorably discharged.


Vera Watkins

Vera Watkins, Retina Specialty Institute’s Chief Clinical Officer, partnered with a transition team to look at candidates with military service, key skills and the potential for on the job training (OJT) for qualified military veterans. Ms. Watkins started with the practice 25 years ago with one doctor, one location, one technician, and one receptionist. As the practice expanded, she recognized qualities that returning veterans possessed that align with RSI’s core values. Ms. Watkins said, “Veterans were not only dependable and courteous they also had integrity and discipline. Combine these mission critical skills with extraordinary communication and computer skills and you have qualified candidates for various positions in the practice.


Ron Hall

Ten-year Navy Submarine Electronics Technician, Mr. Ron Hall, impressed Ms. Watkins during his interview, was hired, and received his certification as a clinical trial photographer within the first two months of his employment. Ms. Watkins added, “Ron was most qualified and he became the lead photographer.” Now, Ron assists with clinical trials and is a mentor to other RSI associates. Mr. Hall said, “I had always wanted to go into the medical field and one of the e-mails I received from CareerSource Escarosa, formerly Workforce Escarosa, presented the RSI opportunity. Some key skills I gained from my military service included communication, flexibility and teamwork which have been important for coordinating the RSI clinical trials.”

We are very pleased with our veterans at RSI,” continued Ms. Watkins, “we employ veterans at our satellite locations, too. In some instances, they have become lead technicians and scribes.”

CGI’s mission is one of RSI’s cornerstones as outlined by hiring qualified military veterans. RSI exemplifies CGI’s initiative for quality of care and patient experience. One example of patient experience is RSI “expedites” patients who have a golden ticket. A golden ticket may be given to a particular patient which allows that patient to be “expedited” through the practice. Some examples of these circumstances that may allow patients to be expedited would be any 90+year-old patients, patients in a wheelchair, on oxygen, undergoing chemotherapy, recent surgery or other extenuating circumstances. Ms. Watkins said, Patients appreciate the consideration and our other patients are understanding of the golden chart designation.”

Another key initiative at RSI is their “service recovery” policy. When one of our retina specialists is running behind during clinic, a staff member will go into the waiting area and update the patients about the delay and provide snacks. Value Based Medicine is based on Quality of care + Patient Experience. RSI surveys patients to gain their immediate feedback on their experience. Patient feedback is imperative to shape efficiencies, processes and overall experience.

RSI has six retina specialists located in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. These clinics continue to make a difference saving sight and improving the quality of life for patients each day thanks to the vision of Dr. Sunil Gupta, the dedication of RSI’s doctors, partner employees like Vera Watkins, and loyal staff members like Ron Hall.

Dr. Sunil Gupta can be reached via e-mail at sgupta@retinaspecialty.com

Vera Watkins can be reached via e-mail at vwatkins@retinaspecialty.com

Ron Hall can be reached via e-mail at rhall@retinaspecialty.com

return to top