While December 31st was the final day in history for the year 2014, it was also the last day that Dennis Swarner, OD and Robert O’Connell OD left work as owners of the Kenai Vision Center. It was 1975 when Dr. Swarner came to the Kenai from Fairbanks and took over the Kenai Vision Center practice from Dr. Dippel who started the center in 1967. Swarner was joined by Dr. O’Connell in 1977, “But the first time I came to Kenai was in ’75 and I drove through town and by the time I reached the Blue Grouse drive-in heading north I finally realized that I’d driven through town without knowing it,” recalled O’Connell on New Year’s Eve. They passed the ownership of the Kenai Vision Center over to the husband and wife partners of David Karpik, OD and Kathleen Rice, OD.
Once again the talents of doctors Rice and Karpik have been imported from Fairbanks where they have been practicing for the last decade or so. “They’ll take the helm as of the first day of 2015 about four decades after I took it and Bob and I will become their employees, kind of semi-retired,” said Swarner.
Katie says she became interested in optometry when she was growing up, “I needed special contact lenses that not everyone could fit; my doctor’s special care peaked my interest,” she said. Her husband David says he is thrilled to be settling on the Kenai after living in Fairbanks, “It is beautiful! People may not be happy with the winter this year so far but I’m loving life here and we’re spending lots of time outside,” he said.
Through the years the Kenai Vision Center and Dr. Swarner and O’Connell have been well known for acquiring and embracing the latest in optometric technology, “It’s one of the things that drew Katie and me to the clinic. They have striven for years to provide the full scope of optometric care for their patients by fully embracing technology to enhance patient care and communication with their patients about their conditions to improve their lives through optimal vision and eye health. We have pledged to continue that as our focus and mission as well. It does take investment in technology and continuous investment in advancement of knowledge and training in the profession and we hope to continue with the reputation that Dr. Swarner and O’Connell have established in patient care and preceded us with in their endeavors and investments.