RetinaLink Series: Staying the Course during COVID-19 with Dr. Timothy Murray

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RetinaLink continues its new Staying the Course series with Dr. Timothy G. Murray. Dr. Murray is the Founding Director & CEO of Murray Ocular Oncology and Retina (MOOR) in Miami, FL and is the President of the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS).

Today, Dr. Murray discusses his clinic, surgery days and recent changes to his patient protocol during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Timothy G. Murray, MD, MBA
Photo: Kevin Caldwell Photography

RetinaLink (RL): Are you seeing patients in your clinic? If so, please outline MOOR’s new normal with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Timothy G. Murray, MD, MBA (TGM): We are currently in our third week in Miami. We experienced a significant “ramp up” this week. Early decisions made and communicated by the ASRS leadership on best practices and COVID-19 policy statements have been critical to this ever-changing environment. MOOR immediately moved our practice to urgent and emergent care only.

I met with the entire MOOR staff and we discussed the optimal way to stay proactive. I’ve kept all my staff. No one has been laid off or furloughed. I am amazed by the commitment of my staff (anxious and scared – yet, still seeing patients).

My clinical volume is down 30% and my surgical volume is down the same amount. Nonetheless, even with emergent/urgent care, in the last 4 weeks of the pandemic we have seen 793 patients and injected over 650 patients. Our patients NEED our focus on ongoing care.

RL: Please discuss your protocol for your staff and patients in your practice.

TGM: The majority of my patients in clinic need their IVI. My staff responded by ensuring proper social distancing and immediately changed our scheduling templates to space patients. Efficiency is the key and we want to minimize our patient’s office time without compromising their care.

Dr. Murray pauses outside his office entrance

Our front office contacts patients before their appointment to outline everything. Patients know to wash their hands upon arrival; we provide face covering for all patients. I will say that patients are incredibly appreciative yet, very scared.

My attire was suit and tie for the office. Now, I arrive at the office in my scrubs. I change immediately when I get home to keep my family safe. Scrubs and lab coat washed daily before use.

RL: Please outline your surgery days and safety precautions.

TGM: I only operate on emergent or urgent cases outlined by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and ASRS. I had five complicated retina cases this week at the hospital. The main Ambulatory Surgery Center where I operate is not available for my surgical cases so I’ve shifted all my patients to the hospital.

I double mask; N95 with a disposable mask over the N95. This is tricky to successfully couple with the optics; however, we are taking all contact precautions. I block in the operating room and the patient recovers in the operating room since pre and post-op recovery aren’t available. Our pre-op/Post-op areas have become ICU beds and are walled off. This has changed literally every week that I have operated.

I’ve worked with this eye team for years and I find there is so much anxiety. We are taking all the special precautions; yet, I stopped the surgical team and said, “we do this well let’s not make it harder than it has to be.

As for my pediatric patients, they are all being cared for at our Children’s Hospital. All children are now intubated (we typically mask) and are required to have a negative COVID-19 test before surgery.

RL: What do you do at the end of your busy day?

TGM: I practice the best social distancing and take my boat into the bay. I also spend time with my wife and daughters. We grill outside and then, enjoy dinner together.

Dr. Murray can be reached via e-mail –