Good Medicine

By staff December 1, 2005

Sarasota's ever-growing population-and affluence-support a healthy medical community known for top-notch practitioners and facilities.

"We're in the top 2 percent of all hospitals Gallup measured for patient satisfaction in the category of emergency-room excellence, and in the top 3 percent for the hospital as a whole," says Robert Meade, CEO of Doctors Hospital of Sarasota.

Sarasota Memorial's Web site justly touts its ranking by U.S. News & World Report. "This is the second year in a row SMH was the only hospital in Florida to rate in the top 50 hospitals in seven categories, and the top community-owned hospital in the country for heart care and heart surgery," says Dr. Bernard Feinberg, associate chief medical officer for SMH medical system.

And CEO Gwen MacKenzie notes that the 22 physicians SMH recruited during the first half of 2005 had credentials far beyond what one might expect for a hospital or city of this size. In addition, she says, "We're making an effort to retain quality doctors and replace an aging structure."

Nearly all medical centers are expanding their facilities. Lynn Mergen arrived last June to orchestrate Lakewood Ranch Medical Center's growth in burgeoning east Manatee County. "We're putting in a cardiovascular lab, which should be installed by the end of the year," he says. "Right now we're focusing on building up orthopedics, women's services and vascular."

Doctors Hospital is taking steps to upgrade all of its private rooms, and construction began this fall on a $2.1 million project that includes a second diagnostic cath lab/vascular lab that will be online in March. The hospital, owned by Hospital Corporation of America, recently opened a state-of-the-art spine, orthopedic and joint center affiliated with HCA's Spine Care Centers of West Florida.

Sarasota Memorial is expanding its critical-care and emergency-room operations and has several new ambulatory centers in the works. Its Institute for Advanced Medicine opened this fall, anchored by a special neurosciences program for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. A walk-in urgent care center is scheduled to open in January on the Manatee side of University Parkway. And two multi-disciplinary centers-one on 60 acres on Laurel Road and the other on hospital-owned land on Thomas Ranch in North Port-are also in planning stages.


Sarasota and Manatee County hospitals provide excellent cancer programs; treatment information is available at In addition, two of the Gulf Coast's largest and most advanced radiation treatment facilities, Radiation Oncology Centers and 21st Century Oncology, are based here. The Wellness Community of Southwest Florida provides psychological support and education, group therapy and mental health assistance for cancer patients and their family members. The Wellness Community of Southwest Florida, 3900 Clark Road, Building P-3, Sarasota, (941) 921-5539,; Radiation Oncology Center, 3663 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, (941) 924-8700,; 21st Century Oncology, 3210 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, (941) 364-8887.


Area children of all income groups have access to quality care through a network of programs and facilities. CMS-Sarasota is part of the state's Children's Medical Services Network for children with special healthcare needs. All Children's Specialty Care is a specialty care clinic opened by St. Petersburg's All Children's Hospital in association with Sarasota Memorial. In addition, the pediatric hematology/oncology program at ACH in St. Pete is one of the largest children's cancer programs in the Southeast. CMS-Sarasota, 6055 Rand Blvd., (941) 361-6250; All Children's Specialty Care, 5881 Rand Blvd., (941) 927-8805.


A network of organizations provides programs, services and support to adults and children with developmental disabilities. Among them are United Cerebral Palsy, (941) 957-3599; Easter Seals, (941) 355-7637; Lou Gehrig's Disease Association, (941) 955-4771; Manasota Association for Retarded Citizens, (941) 752-2976; Suncoast Center for Independent Living, (941) 351-9545.


One of the country's most noteworthy hearing facilities is located in Sarasota: the state-of-the-art Silverstein Institute. Founded by Dr. Herbert Silverstein, considered a leading authority on Meniere's and balance diseases, the Institute offers diagnosis, testing, treatment and a full range of hearing aids. Silverstein has also invented several implants in wide use today. A local branch of Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH) is also available to those with hearing disorders. SHHH, (941) 952-9011; Silverstein Institute, (941) 366-9222.


Tidwell Hospice and Palliative Care offers total end-of-life support for patients and families in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 929-2302.


Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

For the past two years, U.S. News & World Report ranked SMH one of the country's best in heart surgery, orthopedics, cancer care, digestive disorders, urology, geriatrics and ear, nose and throat. Florida's second-largest public acute-care hospital, SMH was listed in Solucient reports for 2003 and 2004 as a top 100 cardiovascular hospital in the community hospital category. It is a "Magnet" hospital (Magnet Nursing Services recognition is the nation's highest honor for excellence in nursing) and accredited by the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer. 1700 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 917-9000,

Doctors Hospital of Sarasota

Doctors' 168-bed acute and general care hospital offers oncology, orthopedics, neurological services and a wound-care center. The hospital has been ranked in the top 4 percent in the country (its emergency care center in the top 2 percent) in an industry study. Like Sarasota Memorial, its cancer care program is one of only 1,400 facilities in the country to be approved through the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer. A new Spine Care Center was opened this year in conjunction with Spine Care Centers of Southwest Florida. 5731 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, (941) 342-1100,

Englewood Community Hospital

This acute-care hospital is one of five facilities in Florida and the only one in Sarasota County accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers. A healthcare industry study named Englewood Community Hospital one of the nation's top 100 hospitals for excellence in quality of care, efficiency of operations and sustainability of overall performance. A 24/7 nurse hotline, at (941) 473-3919 or toll-free (888) 685-1598, answers urgent care questions. 700 Medical Blvd., Englewood, (941) 475-6571,

Venice Regional Medical Center

(formerly Bon Secours Venice Hospital)

Among the top 100 stroke hospitals in the country, this 342-bed hospital offers specialized cardiac care (recognized as a top 100 cardio hospital by Solucient for 2003), accredited cancer services, a complete surgical program and comprehensive rehabilitation programs. It has one of the top 100 orthopedics departments in the country, especially lauded for knee replacement and fracture repair. 540 The Rialto, Venice, (941) 485-7711,

Manatee Memorial Hospital

This 491-bed acute-care facility was named a Top 100 Performance Improvement Leader among the nation's community hospitals by Solucient in a study released in April 2005. Membership in the MMH Senior Advantage Program provides medical prescription discounts, discounts for vision care, eyeglasses and hearing devices and discounted admission to water aerobics. The hospital's oncology unit is staffed with nurses certified in cancer care, and Manatee Memorial has one of two hospital obstetrics units operating in Manatee County. 206 Second St. E., Bradenton, (941) 746-5111,

Blake Medical Center

Blake has been named a Solucient top 100 hospital eight times, a national and regional honor only five other hospitals in the country share. The 383-bed acute-care hospital opened a Spine Care Center in July 2005. Blake also offers a heartburn relief center with state-of-the-art testing and was the first in Manatee Country to provide PET (Positron Emission Tomography) testing via a mobile outpatient unit. 2020 59th St. W., Bradenton, (941) 792-6611,

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center

Just a year old and already scoring above Gallup's database averages for overall satisfaction, patient loyalty and trust, this full-service, 120-bed sister hospital to Manatee Memorial offers state-of-the-art equipment and technology that have attracted the area's top physicians. LRMC is located on 30 acres in the Town Center in Lakewood Ranch, and offers private rooms, critical care services and surgical and radiology services. It hosts the only other obstetrics unit in Manatee, with a Women's Service Center and a complete birthing center. 8330 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Bradenton, (941) 782-2124,

Rehabilitation/Specialty Services

Sarasota has the only freestanding rehabilitation hospitals on the southwest coast of Florida; they are accredited by both the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)

HealthSouth Rehabilitation is a 76-bed hospital that offers individualized medical and therapeutic services tailored to patients and clinics for those afflicted with stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy and ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). HealthSouth Rehabilitation, 3251 Proctor Road, Sarasota, (941) 921-8600.

HealthSouth RidgeLake Hospital is a new 40-bed freestanding specialty services hospital that began treating patients in June 2005. The new facility targets patients with neurological conditions, including brain injury caused by stroke. After six months in operation, the hospital expects to be approved as a long-term care provider for the critically ill on ventilators, long-term antibiotic therapy etc. HealthSouth RidgeLake Hospital, 6150 Edgelake Drive, Sarasota, (941) 342-3000.


The Heart & Vascular Center of Venice offers a complete range of diagnostic and therapeutic cardiovascular services, including echocardiography, a pacemaker clinic, heart catheterization, CT angiography and a complete cardiac rehab program. It also provides EECP (Enhanced External Counter Pulsation), a non-invasive procedure that can reduce the symptoms of angina pectoris by increasing blood flow to the ischemic areas of the heart. 1287 U.S. 41 Bypass S., Venice, (941) 497-5511,


The Dattoli Cancer Center's leading-edge prostate cancer diagnostic and treatment technology attracts patients from around the world. Dattoli pioneered many of the innovations associated with prostate brachytherapy; staff members co-authored Surviving Prostate Cancer without Surgery, published in February. Radiation Oncology Centers offered the first prostate seed implant therapy here nearly 30 years ago and continues to participate in the research and development of cancer treatments. The Sarasota Prostate Cancer Support Group meets monthly at Sarasota Memorial Hospital; for info call (941) 488-2166. Dattoli Cancer Center, 2803 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, (941) 957-1221, Radiation Oncology Center, 3663 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, (941) 924-8700,


Sarasota County provides mental health services at no charge or reduced cost to those in need at Samaritan Counseling Services of the Gulf Coast (941-926-2959) and Coastal Behavioral Healthcare (941-927-8990). CBH offers more than 50 substance abuse and mental health prevention, intervention and treatment programs. In Manatee County, an excellent program is available at Manatee Memorial Hospital's Center for Behavioral Health (941-746-5111). Organizations like Charis Center (941-378-1549), Mental Health Community Centers (941-953-3477) and Florida Center for Child and Family Development (941-371-8820) provide counseling to all ages.


Many board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons in the area have extended their practices to include skin care centers offering electrolysis, laser hair removal and state-of-the-art treatments by licensed aestheticians. To locate a qualified surgeon here, visit the Web sites of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery ( or the American Board of Medical Specialties (


Every major hospital offers both in- and outpatient rehabilitation departments. Most primary care physicians offer lists of outpatient physical therapy centers they have pre-approved. HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and HealthSouth RidgeLake Hospital offer a higher level of nursing care for rehabilitation patients. HealthSouth has two outpatient rehab centers in Sarasota: 2401 University Parkway, (941) 355-3024; and 5831 Bee Ridge Road, (941) 378-2850.


Sarasota offers a full range of top-quality assisted-living facilities, from luxury communities to those like Kobernick House/Anchin Pavilion, which provides specialized care for patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Many agencies offer health services to disadvantaged citizens and those on fixed incomes. Senior Friendship Center provides free and low-cost medical and dental services, adult day care, home meal deliveries and a campus where those 50 and over can interact. It also provides referrals for caregivers for older adults. Senior Friendship Center, 1888 Brother Geenen Way, Sarasota, (941) 955-2122,; Kobernick House/Anchin Pavilion, 1959 N. Honore Ave., Sarasota, (941) 379-3553.


Sarasota's ophthalmologists have garnered international reputations through their lectures and their participation in clinical trials of state-of-the-art new products. Notables in the field are Harry Grabow of Sarasota Cataract & Laser Institute, (941) 921-7744; David Shoemaker of Center for Sight, (941) 925-2020; and Keye Wong of Sarasota Retina Institute, (941) 921-5335. All have hosted other physicians who travel here to learn their techniques. The area also serves the visually impaired with Mana-Sota Lighthouse for the Blind and Southeastern Guide Dogs, which breeds and trains dogs at no cost to recipients. Manasota Lighthouse for the Blind, 7319 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 359-1404; Southeastern Guide Dogs, 4210 77th St. E., Palmetto, (941) 729-5665,


Sarasota Memorial Hospital holds the county's only hospital obstetrics ward. On staff at SMH is Dr. Washington Hill, a neonatologist who specializes in high-risk pregnancies; and the obstetrics department is equipped with 4-D (dimensional) ultrasound to detect fetal abnormalities in utero. Sarasota County also has alternative birthing care options. At the Rosemary Birthing Home, midwives oversee water births, home births, aquanatal classes and breastfeeding support. Sarasota Memorial's digital mammography is available at four different locations: Osprey, University Parkway, midtown and downtown. Planned Parenthood also has an office here. Rosemary Birthing Home, 800 Central Ave., Sarasota, (941) 330-9966. Planned Parenthood, 2055 Wood St., Suite 110, Sarasota, (941) 957-1050.


Medical professionals distinguish between emergent care and urgent care. Emergent care is for life-threatening problems and should be treated in the ER; urgent care is for non-life-threatening medical problems requiring immediate attention and is administered at minor care centers in local hospital ERs or walk-in clinics. Unequivocally, doctors advise patients to go to the nearest emergency room when emergent care is needed. Keep this list to find the closest facility in times of need.

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System: 1700 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 917-9000. Both emergency and urgent care are handled at the hospital's Emergency Care Center 24/7. After triaging patients in the ECC, those who require urgent but not necessarily more intensive emergency care are sent to the urgent care center. Sarasota Memorial Walk-In Medical Center (to open in January 2006), located at 2415 University Parkway, is a freestanding center available for urgent treatment for common medical problems like sore throat, flu, colds, rashes, earaches, infections or minor non-life-threatening emergencies like sprains, fractures, lacerations, abrasions, burns and eye injuries. The center will offer extended hours Monday through Saturday, and will be staffed by emergency care physicians.

Doctors Hospital 5731 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, (941) 342-1100. The Emergency Department has distinct sections to handle minor care as well as life-threatening emergencies 24/7.

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center 8330 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Bradenton, (941) 782-212. The Emergency Services Center provides advanced emergency medicine and minor care 24/7.

Englewood Community Hospital 700 Medical Blvd., Englewood, (941) 475-6571. The Emergency Care Center is staffed 24/7 to handle all levels of minor and major medical emergencies. Consult a Nurse is ECH's 24-hour hotline for urgent care questions. Registered nurses are on call to help you decide whether to call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Call (941) 473-3919 or (888) 685-1598.

Venice Regional Medical Center (formerly Bon Secours Venice Hospital): 540 The Rialto, Venice, (941) 485-7711. The 24/7 Emergency Care Center has a fast-track component for those assessed as needing minor care. Walk-in Centers affiliated with the hospital are: Venice Family Medical and Walk-In, 1295 Jacaranda Blvd., (941) 486-6060; and Englewood Primary Care/Walk-In, 250 W. Dearborn St., (941) 473-5100.

Blake Medical Center 2020 59th St. W., Bradenton, (941) 792-6611. The emergency department provides acute care and urgent care 24/7.

Manatee Memorial Hospital 206 Second St. E., Bradenton, (941) 746-5111. The Emergency Care Center offers emergent care 24/7 and a fast-track component for non-emergent care. The hospital-affiliated walk-in center is First Care West, 3649 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, (941) 753-7585. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Holiday hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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