“Not knowing what the future was going to bring was really scary.” – Dr. Jay Pravda
After leaving his house by boat and seeing his office under water in a drone video, VSP Network Doctor Jay Pravda, O.D., was unsure of what the future would hold. “It was just an awful feeling not knowing where we were going to live, what I was going to do, and how we were going to pay for everything,” he said, reflecting on his angst after the storm.
Right after the floods, the Pravda family and their dog were thinking about heading to a shelter until a fellow Houston-area doctor opened his home to them. They were fortunate to have a place to stay for the next six months while they figured out how to rebuild, as they had a long journey ahead of them. “He just took us in like we were part of his family. I still can’t get over that. If it weren’t for him, I don’t know what we would have done,” said Dr. Pravda.
Despite the exhausting recovery process, it was never a question of if Dr. Pravda would get back to practicing optometry; it was a question of when. But would his patients come back? Would he be able to pay the bills? These questions weighed heavily on his mind for months as his family started to rebuild their home, their practice and their lives.
It was emotionally taxing for the whole family. There were feelings of loss and devastation. There was a constant struggle of not choking up with emotions when talking about it. But there were also feelings of gratitude and amazement over the people and organizations who reached out to help. “If it weren’t for the volunteers and the help we received from people, I wouldn’t have been able to re-open. It’s because of them that I am where I am now, and that I can never repay.”
After months of uncertainty, it was time to re-open his business. It was Monday, April 2, 2018, and he was just as nervous then as when he opened his first practice in 1975. Dr. Pravda was so happy to have his practice open again, but the worries about whether his patients would return were still strong. Those fears began to ease as patient appointments rolled in again.
“People ask me every day, ‘Are your patients coming back?’ And yes, they are. It’s just a really, really wonderful feeling.”
Houston is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, but the community is coming back and even stronger than it once was. Dr. Pravda couldn’t be happier to be part of that community and back to doing what he loves.
See Dr. Pravda just after the floods, in a preface to this story.