Local optometrist wins state honor
Despite an award-winning career spanning 34 years and a host of neglected hobbies, Russellville optometrist Dr. Martha Greenberg has no plans to retire in the foreseeable future.
Last month Greenberg was awarded Optometrist of the Year by the 450-member Alabama Optometric Association among 17 nominees. In 2006, her alma mater, the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, presented her with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
"After I won the Lifetime Achievement Award, I thought, 'Do they think I'm at the end of my life?'" said Greenberg, who enjoys reading mystery novels, cooking, baking and playing bridge. "I can't imagine not practicing optometry, and I've been really invigorated by the younger people who come in here – we already used computer instruments, but I'm also learning to be more computerized."
Technological advances have fundamentally changed optometric medicine, according to Greenberg.
"The biggest change in practicing is the advancement of technology and the new pharmacology advancement agents, which have provided much better care for patients," she said. "I feel very strongly about continuing education and trying to keep up with technology.
"Three years ago we added a machine that takes a digital image of the optic nerve head, and that has allowed us to bring our patient care to a much higher level, especially for patients with glaucoma and diabetic eye diseases."
Greenberg was given the ALOA award at its annual convention last month in Birmingham. She credited her mother and late father, Dr. Fred Rosemore, a World War II POW, an optometrist for 40 years and founder of PMC Commercial Trust, for encouraging her to pursue a male-dominated profession.
"It was very surprising to win the award," Greenberg said. "I remember getting a phone call from my father, who passed away right before Thanksgiving. He was really my mentor, and I started out at 8 years old by working with him at his practice.
"My mother couldn't go to college because it was the Depression and she had to work. But both of my parents felt that there was nothing a female couldn't do … and my father really taught me that you have to give back, and to be a giver and not a taker."
Winners of the AOLA award are selected based on their service to the association, profession and community. Greenberg, who served as AOLA president in 2004-05, has belonged to dozens of professional and community service boards and currently serves as sight committee chair for the Russellville Lions Club, an ambassador for the Southern Council of Optometrists and a member of the American Optometric Association Charities Foundation board of directors.
She was also appointed by Gov. Bob Riley to a five-year term on the Alabama Board of Optometry and is a keyperson, or adviser, for state Sen. Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) and state representatives Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay) and Jody Letson (D-Moulton).
"She's someone I consult with regularly on legislative matters dealing with eye care," Bedford said. "I'm very proud of her selection, and think it's well-deserved.
"I've interacted with her fellow eye doctors around the state, and they all hold her in a very high esteem."
Greenberg, a Fayette native, opened EyeCare Professionals in Russellville with her husband, Dr. Sidney Greenberg, in 1974. The practice, which has nine staff members and four optometrists, has grown into additional locations in Red Bay and Moulton and now includes her son, Dr. Stuart Greenberg, who surprised her with a congratulatory billboard on U.S. 43 in response to her AOLA award. Her two daughters, Mindy and Dana, also chose to become optometrists after graduating from Russellville High School and both now practice in Atlanta.
"I'm very fortunate to have three children who are all wonderful, and I'm very proud they all started and finished (optometry) school," said Greenberg. "And I've been very fortunate to have been surrounded by good people, from my parents and family to the staff here at the office, who are like a family within a family."
The emphasis on a family atmosphere for patients and employees is a major reason why Kay McAfee has remained with the practice for more than 15 years.
"I worked at three places before here, and I've been offered other jobs," said McAfee, an optometric assistant. "But I like the atmosphere here, and Dr. Martha tries to make it a homey place for the patients and staff – every day I get up and come to work, but it's like coming to my second home."
Phil Campbell resident Charlene Tidwell and her extended family are longtime Greenberg patients, and they also appreciate her family approach.
"I've probably been going to see her for 15 years or longer, and all of my family does, too," Tidwell said. "We just like her personality and examination, and we can talk to her like she's one of our family. She takes time with you and doesn't hurry you through, and she's a very sweet person. There's nothing you can't ask her about, and she likes for you to be pleased with your glasses and contacts.
"It was so pleasing to see her up on that billboard because I think she deserved to win the award."