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Low Vision Clinic Office Assistant

Department: Centre for Sight Enhancement (Low Vision Services) Effective Date: July 1, 2009


35 hr/wk

Reports to: Administrator, CSE

General Accountability

The Low Vision Secretary reports to the Administrator of the Centre for Sight Enhancement. The Low Vision Secretary is responsible for providing efficient, courteous service to patients and community agencies connected with the Low Vision Clinic, effective office support services for the professional low vision staff as well as assisting and directing Optometry interns working in the Low Vision Clinic. 

Nature and Scope

The School of Optometry Clinic provides a clinical facility for the education of Optometry undergraduates, graduate students and residents at the University of Waterloo. It also provides a comprehensive Optometric service to the general public through a University-based clinic. Approximately 30,000 patients are seen annually. Special populations are served through outreach projects around the region, across the country and throughout the world.

The Centre for Sight Enhancement (CSE) is a semi-autonomous clinical research and teaching facility within the School of Optometry. It is involved exclusively with activities related to the assessment and rehabilitation of visual disorders, visual impairments, visual disabilities and visual handicaps. The CSE has been designated by the Ontario Ministry of Health for the assessment and provision of high technology sight enhancement and sight substitution systems to visually impaired Ontario residents under the Assistive Devices Program (ADP). This Ministry program provides partial funding for these and other prescribed low vision aids.

The Centre for Sight Enhancement is an integral part of the overall teaching, research and clinical activities of the School of Optometry. Clinical low vision services within the CSE are provided by faculty optometrists with specialty training and experience in the low vision field. These "low vision clinicians" are assigned to the CSE low vision service by the School of Optometry Clinic Director who appoints a Head - Low Vision Services" co-ordinate the clinical activities within the area. CSE support staff are available to assist with reception, intake, assessment, counselling, training, clerical support and follow-up activities in the area. These support services are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care through the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integrated Network (WWLHIN) as well as Ministry of Health’s Assistive Devices Program.

The provision of clinical low vision services at the Centre for Sight Enhancement has evolved into a highly sophisticated and complex process. Since its creation in 1984, the Centre has experienced a tremendous change in the profile of patients being seen and in the services that they require. A greater number of young and profoundly impaired individuals are now being seen with more complicated educational and vocational requirements. In response to these changing service demands, the CSE low vision service has adopted an effective multidisciplinary team approach for low vision rehabilitation. Optometric low vision services are supported internally by a counsellor, a low vision assistant, high technology low vision assistant and clerical support and externally by a large assortment of community services. The CSE also interacts regularly with many advocacy and consumer support groups attempting to assist blind and visually impaired individuals.

The Low Vision Secretary is required to assist patients, faculty, staff, interns, community agencies (such as Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Ministry of Community and Social Services and School Boards, community health care professionals) with various low vision inquiries, either in person or by telephone in a helpful and considerate manner. Inquiries should be referred as necessary to the appropriate CSE or general clinic staff. 


The Low Vision Secretary will process all low vision orders (including calculation of patient cost) in a prompt and efficient manner, with careful attention to detail (such as lens type, coatings and tints) under the guidance of the prescribing clinician. This entails a good working knowledge of all aspects of ordering devices from Canada and the U.S., and liaison internally with the Optometry laboratory and with other departments on campus, such as Purchasing, Customs, Financial Services and Shipping. In addition, the Secretary will maintain the Low Vision inventory of optical devices and aids-for-daily living, under the direction of Head, Low Vision Services. The Secretary is responsible for maintaining up-to-date reference materials (such as catalogues and pamphlets) with regard to low vision devices, prices and availability.

The Low Vision Clinic Office Assistant will have primary responsibility for processing ADP forms for low technology devices (obtaining signatures, entering item description codes, obtaining prior approval as required) for the Low Vision Clinic. In addition, the incumbent will be responsible for preparing all ADP low-tech billings for the School of Optometry (Low Vision, Contact Lens, Primary Care) using the new Clinic Information System (CIS).  The Assistant will review ADP on-hold reports and follow-up with patients, ADP Claims department and ADP Finance department to resolve unpaid billings Invoices are deleted by ADP after a period of time and cannot be rebilled therefore timely resolution is imperative.

Invoices must also be created for patients and other third party payers and the Assistant is responsible for both entering and posting all these accounts to the CIS. Careful attention to detail is required with the CIS to ensure that the daily accounts receivable total balances appropriately when checked daily by the Clinic Accounting Supervisor. The Assistant will be responsible for following up all outstanding invoices, identifying and resolving any problems that have delayed a timely payment.

The Assistant will have a good working knowledge of other aspects of the CIS so that patient records can be retrieved and edited (i.e. change of address etc.), financial information completed (post payments, create receipts or duplicate receipts at tax time), print reports (such as the daily appointment schedule and calendar etc).

The Assistant will take responsibility for mailing orders, reports and correspondence, as well as loan items and will provide effective office support services for the professional low vision staff. In addition, he/she will open, date and distribute mail as appropriate.  The Assistant will also maintain a small inventory of necessary administrative supplies for this area, including ADP forms, ordering or copying these supplies as required. In addition, he/she is responsible for maintaining a computer file of forms used in the low vision area, updating these at the request of the Administrator or Head, Low Vision Services and ordering them in a timely manner.

The Assistant will work with the Administrator and the Head, Low Vision Services to interpret and implement changes in ADP policy and procedure and take initiative to problem solve in this area.  Current information and working knowledge of other third-party programs must also be maintained (DVA/Blue Cross, MCSS, Indian Affairs, Greenshields, service clubs).

The Assistant is responsible for some office equipment (facsimile/printer/copier machine) arranging for service and supplies as required. This individual will also be responsible for timely delivery of incoming faxes to the recipient.

The Assistant will respond to calls to the clinic and will direct calls as appropriate. In the absence of the Low Vision Receptionist, the Secretary will answer the primary low vision clinic line and perform necessary duties as required in consultation with the Administrator.

The Low Vision Clinic Assistant will be responsible for Low Vision Clinic year-end duties associated with the annual inventory count i.e. accounting for work-in-progress, actual inventory count and calculating value of inventory on hand. 

Statistical Data

The Low Vision Secretary manages both stock and custom orders for approximately 600 – 700 patients a year who are seen in the clinic, entailing ordering, stocking, billing and delivery of these orders to patients.

Specific Accountabilities

  1. Assist patients, faculty, staff and external contacts with various low vision inquiries.
  2. Process all low vision orders in a prompt and efficient manner, maintain an inventory of optical devices and aids for daily living and to keep reference materials up-to-date.
  3. Process ADP forms and claims; prepare invoices for ADP and other third party funding agencies using the Clinic Information System (CIS) and Excel accounting software.
  4. Provide follow-up on outstanding invoices and identify/resolve problems associated with delinquent payments.
  5. Provide effective office support services, which will include knowledge of the Clinic Information System, WordPerfect and Microsoft Office, and maintain the necessary administrative supplies, including all forms used in the low vision clinic.
  6. Knowledge of ADP policies and procedures required.
  7. Assist in the planning and implementation of changes to ADP and other third-party policy and procedure.
  8. Knowledgeable of, and responsible for the operation and maintenance of office equipment such the facsimile machine.
  9. Provide office support for the loan program.
  10. Responsible for the Low Vision Clinic year-end inventory duties
  11. Attention to detail and high level of accuracy required.
  12. Other duties as assigned by the Administrator.

Working Conditions