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McMillin Eyecare: 'Putting Patients First'

Debra McCown • Nov 28, 2012 at 2:19 AM

According to posted hours, McMillin Eyecare is open five days a week - but in reality it’s open any time a patient needs help, said business manager Conti McMillin.

"On each of the doctors’ business cards, you have the office number, the doctor’s home number and their cell phone number," she said. "If necessary they will come in early to see you, or stay late, and we’ve been open on Saturdays from day one."

She said the doctors strive to be accessible to their patients and, in a true emergency, will come to work at any time of the day or night - a principle that she and her husband, Dr. William "Cham" McMillin, have lived by from the beginning in 1978.

McMillin Eyecare provides eye care services that range from routine eye exams and contact lens fittings to treatment of eye disease. An affiliate of TLC Laser Eye Centers, McMillin provides surgical co-management and consultation for cataract and laser refractive surgery.

They have a full-service optical dispensary and maintain a large inventory of soft disposable contact lenses so that, in most cases, their patients can be fitted for and leave with their contacts in the same day.

Cham and his nephew, Dr. William "Billy" McMillin, are the two optometrists at the family business. Cham’s wife of 33 years is the business manager. They have two grown children, Abbye and Jake.

Cham first became interested in optometry in high school. Though born and raised in Kingsport, he spent a lot of time visiting his uncle, an optometrist in Mississippi - and decided optometry was a perfect fit for him. He chose the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry for his doctorate degree and returned home to Kingsport to open his practice.

In 2009, nephew Billy joined the practice. Billy, who grew up outside Knoxville, first became interested in optometry while spending time with his uncle Cham.

"As Billy was trying to figure out what he wanted to do," Conti said, "he just kept talking to his uncle and asking questions, and he would come and spend time in the office."

Billy followed his uncle’s footsteps and chose the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry for his degree.

"McMillin Eyecare had grown to the point where Cham knew that he needed some help," Conti said. "He needed to bring another optometrist into the practice, and he was very happy to learn that his nephew wanted to come to Kingsport to practice with him."

Conti said the mix of Billy’s youthful energy with Cham’s decades of experience creates an ideal scenario for patients. And the next generation of McMillin Eyecare is already in training: Billy and his wife Cara have a newborn son, Will.

McMillin Eyecare stays committed to giving back to the community by supporting local schools, churches and charitable organizations, and volunteering with Remote Area Medical (RAM). The McMillins and optician Sharon Hoover have also done mission work overseas. They’ve traveled to Brazil and Belize to set up eye clinics and are planning another trip to Belize in February with Body and Soul Ministries.

"Over the years, McMillin Eyecare has earned a reputation of genuine caring for our patients," Conti said. "The driving force of the practice has always been to provide the best vision care possible and to build lifetime relationships with our patients, and that is what has happened."

"The children we were seeing when we opened up the practice, we’re now seeing their children," she said. "Patients we saw as young adults are bringing their grandchildren, and sometimes the office becomes a social gathering as longtime patients catch up on their news."

She said the McMillin Eyecare staff members truly take care of each other and their patients.

"We have a great staff," she said. "Several have been with us 15 to 20 years."

Cham said he feels blessed and very privileged to have been able to practice optometry in his hometown for the past 34 years.

"I love what I do," he said. "I live in a wonderful community, and now I have to opportunity to help Billy grow his practice. It doesn’t get any better!"

To learn more about McMillin Eyecare, visit www.drmcmillin.com or call 423-239-5491.

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