A Park Slope optometrist has piqued the interest of the NY Post with his unusual patient-care style: he offers patients beer or cocktail before their exam. “Don’t worry. None of the team is drinking! We are not a sterile [hospital],” Dr. Justin Bazan told them. “We are friendly, helpful and like to have fun! We have beer/wine tastings all the time." It's a story that begs the question: why don't more doctors offer you a drink before your appointment? Who really wants to be sober before a colonoscopy?
Bazan, 34, told the Post he opened Park Slope Eye on Union Street in 2008, and says patients have appreciated his happy hour policy. The Post cites one person who didn't though: “I was offered a beer on my first visit,” wrote Mark T. on Yelp. “Seriously, alcohol before an eye exam? And in a medical environment?” Bazan was unfazed: “I just put myself in patients’ shoes,” he said. “Everybody except that guy ‘Mark T.’ has loved it.”
Of course, he doesn't just offer alcohol—patients also can get tea, snacks, iPads, popcorn and other treats before and after appointments. Perusing the Yelp reviews, there's a lot of praise for the relaxed, "futuristic," hip modern atmosphere (Ingrid Alvarez praises Bazan for making her a Greyhound)—but there's also some griping about "the contemptuous attitude Dr. Bazan seems to have toward his customers (See his responses to reviews on this page for examples)." According to a Business Insider report, Bazan is unapologetic about his Yelp meddling, including responding to negative reviews on the page: "For me, Yelp is just as much about patients finding me as it is about me finding the right patient. When I can deliver the same experience they read about online, they'll rate my practice higher," he said.
But for the most part, the alcohol stuff doesn't seem to be a problem. A spokeswoman for the state Office of the Professions said there are no rules that would bar an optometrist from serving a patient an alcoholic beverage (although Bazan might be breaking an SLA law, since he doesn't have a liquor license). “The only reason I would be worried is if the doctor was drinking," Bazan added, "and that certainly is not the case.”