WestJet Connects Canada, Gulf Coast

Toronto and Sarasota will soon be just one cheap plane ride apart. Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport officials announced Monday that Canadian airline WestJet, a low-cost carrier, will begin nonstop service between the two cities starting in December. For the tourism industry on the Gulf Coast, that means a stronger connection with the entire Canada market at a time when visitation from the Great White North has grown increasingly important.

“This is very exciting for Canadian customers traveling to our beautiful Gulf Coast communities,” said SRQ airport President and CEO Fredrick Piccolo, “and will provide additional opportunities for locals to explore Canada and other destinations worldwide.”

WestJet starting Dec. 18 will offer nonstop service on Fridays and Sundays between SRQ and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ). The flights will be offered seasonally, running through April 29. Flights will be on a Boeing 737-700 with 136 seats. Morning flights are scheduled to depart Toronto at 8:05am and land in Sarasota at 11:06am, with afternoon flights departing Sarasota at 11:55am and landing in Toronto at 2:39pm.

Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, said more visitors to Sarasota County originate from Toronto than any other international city, and the city is the seventh-most important origin city to the county. Since Oct.1, around 72,000 visitors to the county have come from Canada, compared to some 25,000 from the United Kingdom and 18,000 from Central European nations (Germany, Switzerland and Austria). She said WestJet should open access to more Canadians as well. “This is the first time a low-fare carrier comes from this market,” she said. “If ever there is a complaint from Canadian visitors, especially from Toronto, it’s that they feel they have to go to Buffalo for low-fare alternatives.” 

In Manatee County, tourism officials say Canada still trails Europe in terms of importance as far as visitors. In the first quarter of the year, for example, some 14,530 visitors originated from Europe while 14,050 came from Canada. But Elliot Falcione, director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Center, said getting the WestJet connection may be most important to the area as a means to serve seasonal residents who live in Toronto but winter in Sarasota. With the nonstop flight, Falcione said a concerted effort would be made toward boosting travel from Toronto to Manatee County. “With these additional flights in and out of Toronto, we will look at putting more advertising and public relations in that area,” he said. 



Doctors Hospital of Sarasota has been recognized for patient safety with an A grade in the Spring 2015 Hospital Safety Score, which rates how well hospitals protect patients from preventable medical errors, injuries and infections. The Hospital Safety Score is compiled under the guidance of the nation's leading patient safety experts and administered by a national, nonprofit hospital safety watchdog.

Please join Flordia Medical Retreat is congratulating Doctors Hospital on this outstanding recognition.

Rethink sun, sand and surf

Inbound Medical Tourism

Rethink sun, sand and surf. Medical Tourism is taking Florida by storm. If you haven't heard the news about Florida lawmakers' multi-million dollar push to bring both domestic and international patients to the Sunshine Staute -- you should. Watch the video (see links).


Tourism Patients Finding More to Florida under Sun


Like many tourists visiting Florida, she and her son went to Disney Worldbefore driving east to the beach to check out a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. Before Amy Caterina returned to her home 2,500 miles away in Southern California, she made one last stop in Orlando again to visit a team of plastic surgeons at UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health.


Beyond warm sunny days at the beach or pool, Caterina now has a greater appreciation of the Sunshine State. Health and tourism officials are hoping more visitors like Caterina, who returned four months later to undergo vascular lymph node transfer at UF Health Cancer Center, will transform the state’s sun and sand into a hot spot for medical tourism.


Visit Florida, the state’s tourism arm, said that grants totaling $2.5 million will be offered to bring this goal to fruition. One will strengthen Florida’s position as a medical tourism destination of choice for both international and domestic healthcare consumers; the other will be to market related medical conferences, meetings and training programs.


"Patients around the world are no longer looking for procedures and treatments only within their own neighborhood, state or national boundaries," said Renée-Marie Stephano, President of the Medical Tourism Association®. "When these potential patients combine Florida’s attractions, and warm weather with healthcare services that are not only readily accessible, but super-specialized – like in this case, a side effect to breast cancer — Florida becomes a serious consideration for medical travel."


Fly Orlando


Few hospitals offer the type of comprehensive approach to lymphedema that Caterina found at UF Health Cancer Center, where surgeons have now performed the procedure more than 55 times including at least 7 on medical travel patients.


As many as 6.8 million Americans have lymphedema, which prevents lymph fluid from draining from body tissues. The fluid builds up, causing chronic, painful, disfiguring and even immobilizing swelling. Many patients must wear special compression garments, have daily compression massages and have the fluid drained regularly.


"More and more people are flying into Orlando for this operation," said Richard Klein, M.D., section chief of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center at the UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health. "In fact, we’ve been performing this surgery just over a year now, and in that time we’ve already consulted with patients from 22 different states about it. I think we’re going to become more and more known for this type of procedure and we hope that patients are going to fly in not only from around the country, but from around the world as well."


When they do, healthcare providers, hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions near hospitals and clinics in Florida stand to benefit from the medical tourism grants, funded by the state legislature during the 2014 session


Economic Boon


"The establishment of these grants is a tremendous first step in our strategic planning process to spotlight Florida’s world-class doctors and facilities," said Will Secombe, Visit Florida president and CEO.


Visit Florida received $5 million in state funding to promote Florida medical tourism. Each grant awarded under the new medical tourism promotional program will be matched by private funds. Stephano, who serves on the Visit Florida Medical Tourism Taskforce and the gran subcommittee, said the goal of the grant program is to promote new service lines and enhance target markets to increase existing inbound patient flow.


That’s fine with patients like Caterina, who, before the grant program, was fortunate to learn about the lymphedema opportunity at UF Health Cancer Center on social media.


"I researched it (lymphedema)," said Caterina. "Interestingly enough, I couldn’t find anything close to home, which is ironic because I live in San Diego and it’s a big city. So, I decided to come to Orlando."

Doctors Hospital Achieves Robotic Spine Surgery Milestone

Doctors Hospital of Sarasota recently completed 100 Mazor Robotics Tenaissance guidance system procedures, performed by the team of Dr. Tan Ly and Dr. Thomas Sweeney. The Mazor technology allows spine surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures on patients who previously were not considered good surgical candidates.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital ranks among 50 “Best Hospitals” for GYN Services,

Once again, Sarasota Memorial Hospital is the only local hospital to make the grade on U.S. News & World Report's "Best Hospitals" list, this year ranking #48 in Gynecology and recognized as "high performing" in six additional specialties. On a state and metropolitan level, U.S. News again ranked Sarasota Memorial #1 in the Sarasota-Bradneton region and #6 (up from #8 in 2012) among Florida's 271 hospitals.

Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie attributed the national recognition to the dedication and diligence its physicians, nurses and staff demonstrate every day.

Each year, U.S. News evaluates the nation's 5,000 hospitals and ranks the top 50 in 16 adult specialities. U.S. News also recognizes "high-performing" hospitals that provide care at nearly the level of their nationally ranked peers.

Please join us in congratulating SMH for their achievements. 

SMH and Venice Regional Medical Center Win Blue Distinction for Spine Surgery & Total Knee/Hip Joint Replacement

Both Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and Venice Regional Medical Center received the highest level of distinction by Florida Blue, Florida's Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, as a high performing hospital for quality and efficiency in spine surgery and total hip/knee joint replacements. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care® program is a national designation awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality specialty care - and has recently been expanded to include more robust quality measures focused on improved patient health and safety as well as new cost-efficiency measures.

The Power of 3... Robots




With its technologically advanced i-Suites, the largest and most experienced group of multi-specialty robotic surgeons in the region and the recent arrival of the latest generation da Vinci surgical robot, Sarasota Memorial Hospital is enabling more surgeons to perform more complex procedures on more patients using a minimally invasive approach. 

Sarasota Memorial's third surgical robot – the da Vinci Si boasting the latest robotic options and features – was delivered Oct. 29 and is now hard at work in the hospital's minimally invasive operating suites. Sarasota Memorial was the first to pioneer robotic surgery in southwest Florida, and now has more than 22 robotic surgeons who have performed more than 2,000 procedures in an ever-growing field of specialties– cardiovascular, thoracic, gynecology, urology, oncology and general surgery. It is the only hospital in the region with so many experienced robotic surgeons and now three robotic operating suites to ensure a comprehensive range of minimally invasive surgical options are available to patients when they need them. 

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Sarasota Memorial Hospital and bring cutting edge technology to our clients.

For more information about robotic surgery or Sarasota Memorial's robotic surgeons, call our HealthLine at (941) 917-7777 or visit our website at: www.smh.com/robotics


Sarasota Hospital part of drug chain's innovation

With the folks at Medicare putting a spotlight on the problem of re-admissions- older patients with chronic illnesses making repeat visits to the hospital when they should be getting better- all kinds of experiments are under way to mend the missed connections between hospital room and home.

One of these, a prescription drug coordination model by Walgreens called WellTransitions, has been refined recently at a handful of U.S. hospitals, including Sarasota Memorial. The idea is to make pharmacists part of the discharge process, so that patients leave the hospital with all the new meds they've been prescribed, and a better idea of what to do with them.

Medical estimates that preventable hospital readmissions cost the system some $25 million a year, and confusion over medications is a major contributor to the problem. WellTransitions- which so far has involved a pilot program of more than 180 heart failure patients as Sarasota Memorial- is designed to follow the patient home from the hospital, from bedside drug delivery to regular phone consultations with a pharmacists.

Walgreens plans to roll out the program nationwide, first to the 150 hospitals where the company has on-site pharmacies. Sarasota Memorial was selected for the pilot project because of a relationship that goes back to 2009, said Joel Wright, vice president for health systems operations at Walgreens.

"And with their success at reducing readmissions, they were a natural fit," Wright said. "They have a very clear focus on quality, and it's hard to work with a system if that is not a clear focus."

Wright acknowledged that handling a sheaf of new prescriptions, often bearing new names for generic versions of old drugs, can be daunting.

"For the general population those are very challenging words to pronounce", he said. "You almost have to be a medical professional to read a prescription."

Compounding the difficulty is a lack of coordination between health care providers for any given patient.

"There's a handful of problems that we really struggle with as a health care system",  Wright said. "Many patient use multiple pharmacies. Physicians and hospitals don't have access to the patient's medication list at the time of new program, he said aims to make those connections - even working with other drugstore companies to make sure patients get their meds.

Spence Hudon, clinical manager of Sarasota Memorial's inpatient heart failure unit, said WellTransitions has expanded Walgreen's role from bedside delivery to "participation in medication education and reconciliation, discharge phone calls, and calls to the patients later in the 30 days post-discharge."

"Right now wer'e very focused on heart failure, " Wright said, "but we're looking at what other disease states can possibly be helped."

Original Post by Barbara Peters Smith, Sarasota Herald Tribune



For the 15th consecutive year, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System was named the first choice for health care in the region, earning a Consumer Choice Award for the Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice metropolitan area from the National Research Corporation.

The award for 2012-2013 identifies hospitals that health care consumers have chosen as having the best quality, best doctors/nurses and image ratings in more than 300 markets throughout the nation. Of the 3,200 hospitals named by consumers in the study, the winning facilities rank highest in their Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs), as defined by the US Census Bureau.


Florida Medical Retreat would like to congratulate Sarasota Memorial on this awesome achievement!


For more information on Sarasota Memorial Hospital or Florida Medical Retreat, contact us!

American College of Radiology Recognizes Doctors Hospital of Sarasota…Again!


Doctors Hospital has been awarded a three-year term of accreditation in ultrasound as the result of an extensive review by the American College of Radiology (ACR). This marks the eighth Accreditation awarded to the facility.

The ACR gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting ACR Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field.

“We are committed to meeting and exceeding the highest level of imaging quality and radiation safety set forth by the American College of Radiology,” says Kay Adkins, Director of Imaging & Cardiovascular Services. “From the training and qualifications of our clinical professionals to equipment requirements, quality assurance and quality control procedures, we have demonstrated our dedication to our patients and the community and are proud to be recognized for those efforts.”  

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Doctors Hospital in bringing you the very best. If you would like more information about Doctors Hospital of Sarasota or Florida Medical Retreat, contact us.

Dr. John Sylvester, Radiation Oncologist


Dr. John Sylvester is a board-certified Radiation Oncologist with a sub-specialty in the treatment of prostate cancer including brachytherapy / seed therapy.

In August, Dr. Sylvester  was invited and participated on the Advisory board meeting for Provenge, (immune therapy/vaccine for metastatic hormone resistant prostate cancer), ASTRO annual radiation oncology meeting in Boston.

-          On Saturday, October 28th, Dr. Sylvester participated in the Myriad advisory board regarding a new prostate cancer prognostic procedure.


      The following day he gave a talk on Space OAR with IG-IMRT for prostate cancer at the investigators meeting. Dr. Sylvester also gave a talk on Endo-rectal Balloon use for IG-IMRT for Prostate cancer.

-          In addition, Dr. Sylvester had a paper accepted regarding THINStrand radioactive seeds for prostate cancer brachytherapy.

He continues to accrue patients to 2 separate research studies:

-          SpaceOAR for IG-IMRT low-intermediate risk prostate cancer  patients

-          IGRT + Cs-131 seeds for intermediate to high risk prostate cancer patients.

       For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sylvester, contact Florida Medical Retreat.

Healthgrades Report Ranks Sarasota Memorial Among Nation's Best

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Sarasota Memorial Hospital and congratulate them on their great news.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital (www.smh.com) has been listed among "America's 100 Best Hospitals" for stroke care, and was given a 5-star rating in heart, stroke, spine surgery and more than a dozen other specialties by American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2013: Healthgrades Report to the Nation (www.healthgrades.com).

For additional information, please contact Florida Medical Retreat.


Florida Medical Retreat Is Heading To Toronto's Zoomer Show!

Florida Medical Retreat is pleased to announce participation in this year's Zoomer Show in Toronto. In the first of its kind program, Visit Florida is partnering with Zoomer media to exhibit at their Toronto Consumer show this weekend, Saturday, October 27th & Sunday, October 28th. Show hours are: Saturday 9am-6pm and Sunday 10am-5pm.

Please stop by Florida Medical Retreat's booth located in the Florida Zone, booth #3203. Be sure to enter our drawing for an iPad2 & Kindle Fire HD and pick up some great goodies!!

We hope to see you all there!!

New Hearing Loop System Debuts

The opening night performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto will also be the inauguration of the newly installed Hearing Loop System at Sarasota Opera House.

To spotlight the new system, the Longboat Observer has published a profile of Sarasota Opera Guild member and Hearing Loop advocate Barbara Chertok!

Ms. Chertok discusses how opera continued to be a life long passion even after losing her hearing at the age of 21, and shares her excitement at the installation of the new hearing loop system at the Opera House.

"Hearing Loop Systems are the ideal solution for people who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants to hear better in theaters . . . . A hearing loop is the only system that sends the sound of a voice or instrument  from a microphone directly into a hearing aid or cochlear implant for the clearest, most superior sound currently possible." —Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota

To learn more about hearing loops, visit the Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota website.

For more information about Cochlear implants please contact Florida Medical Retreat.

Original Post: Sarasota Opera

Dr. Scott Engel, Plastic Surgeon


engelTo commemorate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we asked Dr. Scott J. Engel, a board-certified plastic surgeon at Sarasota Plastic Surgery Center, to enlighten us about breast reconstruction.

What different types of breast reconstruction surgery are available after a mastectomy?

A reconstructive surgeon might work with the patient’s own body tissue, an implant, or a combination of both. When using an implant, the surgeon must often place a temporary saline expander to stretch out the tissue before replacing it with a more permanent implant. Reconstruction of the nipple and areola is the next step. These procedures reflect different options available to the surgeon. The raw materials may change. But rebuilding the breast in the most natural form possible is always the surgeon’s goal.

How soon after breast cancer surgery can breast reconstruction start?

It can begin immediately. When it does, it actually decreases the amount of additional surgeries required. Sadly, a large percentage of patients aren’t given the option to pursue immediate reconstruction due to the lack of coordination between surgeons. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Who is a good candidate for this procedure?

Any healthy woman with realistic expectations can undergo breast reconstruction. Factors like age, medical co-morbidities and the need for other cancer treatments are always taken into consideration.

Many young women at high risk of breast cancer are choosing to have prophylactic mastectomies before cancer develops. Do you recommend this?

Not as a blanket statement, no. It’s a question of risk- and that depends on the individual. Prophylactic mastectomies are generally reserved for women with a strong family history of breast cancer who test positive for the BRCA gene. A woman who fits this description should consult a geneticist, a surgeon and an oncologist before making a decision. But many women don’t know where they stand. Every woman should know what her level of risk is before she makes that choice. That’s my recommendation.

Do you recommend that all women have mastectomies consider reconstruction?

The loss of a woman’s breast can have dramatic effects on a woman’s mental and physical health. All healthy women should consider reconstruction. Some women opt to undergo breast conservation, which often entails postoperative radiation with the belief that the result will be more pleasing. Depending on the amount of tissue present, the results may be more pleasing with a complete mastectomy.

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Dr. Engel. If you should have addtional qustions or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Engel, please contact Florida Medical Retreat.

Original Post: Style Magazine/ Health & Wellness

Doctors Hospital of Sarasota Named Among Top Orthopedic Programs in the Nation - Again


Florida Medical Retreat is pleased to share hospital member, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota's lastest award. Once again, Doctors Hospital has been named among the Top 101 Hospitals with Great Orthopedic Programs by Becker’s Hospital Review.

After analyzing data from highly regarded organizations such as U.S. News & World Report, HealthGrades and Thomson Reuters, as well as the American Nurses Credentialing Center for Magnet status and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association for Blue Distinction status, the editorial staff identified Doctors Hospital of Sarasota to be a national leader in orthopedic treatment.

In addition to examining rankings and accolades, the team at Becker’s performed additional research into each hospital and analyzed the list with industry experts. To be included, hospitals are required to have an emphasis on patient-centered care.

            “The physicians and staff of our orthopedic team work hard every day to provide high quality care in a uniquely specialized environment,” says William Troy, RN, Director of Orthopedic Services at Doctors Hospital. “Our patients are treated by some of the most well respected surgeons in our community and the nation. In addition, we want to make everyone as comfortable as possible. From private suites to concierge services, we take care of everything so that the only thing the patient has to focus on is healing.”        

For more information please contact us!

Sarasota Memorial Earns National Honor for Women’s Services

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Sarasota Memorial Hospital and congratulates their team on Becker's Hospital Review recently released its list of “100 Hospitals With Great Women's Health Programs”.  Sarasota Memorial Hospital was one of just six hospitals in the state and the only provider in the Southwest Florida region to earn a spot on the national publication’s honor roll.
To compile the list, which recognizes some of the most outstanding providers of women's health in the United States, Becker's Hospital Review consulted a number of resources, including clinical accolades, quality care and women's health proficiencies and awards.
The list reflects hospitals that offer outstanding programs within women's health, including gynecology, obstetrics, reproductive medicine and other gender-specific conditions and health needs. The hospitals additionally have been recognized for excellence in this specialty by several sources, including the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and its National Centers of Excellence in Women's Health model, U.S. News & World Report, HealthGrades, the World Health Organization's and UNICEF's Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, Delta Group CareChex and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Becker’s notes that Sarasota Memorial has a long history of responding to women’s unique health needs and that women have played a key role in the hospital’s success over the years.
“Sarasota Memorial Hospital would not be standing without the dedicated women of the community,” Becker’s said. “In 1921, women residents of Sarasota raised money to fund the first hospital in the area, and in 1925, Sarasota Hospital opened as a 32-bed facility. Today, the hospital provides high-quality women's health programs, ranging from gynecological cancer to pain management, and it is the only hospital in the four-county region to have an intensive care nursery for new mothers.”

Becker’s is the latest independent organization to recognize Sarasota Memorial’s exceptional care for women. In July, Sarasota Memorial earned a spot on U.S. News & World Report's 2012 "Best Hospitals" list, ranking #47 in the nation for excellence in gynecological care. Earlier this year, the hospital also received HealthGrades' Women’s Health Excellence and Maternity Care Excellence Awards.

“These honors are a reflection of our commitment to ensure that women in our community receive the most effective, personalized care for all of their health needs in every stage of life,” said Pam Beitlich, director of Women and Children’s Services.

For more information on Sarasota Memorial Hospital or Florida Medical Retreat contact us.

Buyers From Across the Pond Drawn to Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice

Florida Realtors has released its “Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida 2012," which surveyed more than 1,500 Florida REALTORS on their experience with international buyers. The survey conclusions are applicable to the 12-month period ending June 2012 and revealed that of all Florida markets, Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice is ranked as the top destination for Canadian buyers, and second for U.K. and Western European buyers. The area was far less attractive to buyers from Brazil and Latin America in general.

Florida Medical Retreat is located in Sarasota and proud to be of service to our neighbors to the North with their medical needs. For a full list of services, please visit www.floridamedicalretreat.com or call (941) 552-3288 or (800) 643-0529.

To read the full report click.

New Valve Clinic at Sarasota Memorial Hospital Helps Patients with Severe Aortic Stenosis

With people living longer, more are becoming susceptible to aortic stenosis (narrowing of the heart vales), but many patients - because of age or other health issues - cannot tolerate open hear surgery to treat it.

Now, a breakthrough procedure that allows doctors to replace the diseased valve without surgery is providing new hope to the estimated 40 percent of people living with the potentially deadly condition.

Bolstered by its collaboration with New York's Columbia University Medical Center, Sarasota Memorial opened a new Heart Valve Clinic in June and is now evaluating patients with valve disorders to identify those who could benefit from a new minimally invasive procedure - Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). FDA approved, TAVR is the only catheter-based treatment option for people with severe aortic valve disease who are not eligible for surgery.

Aortic stenosis reduces the valve's ability to open and close completely and can cause severe shortness of breath, chest pain and weakness, said David Patterson, executive director of Sarasota Memorial's Heart & Vascular Services. The condition can result from a birth defect, heart attachk, hypertension, aortic aneurysm or infection; however, some causes are unknown. Left untreated, heart valve disease can result in heart failure, severe infection and sudden death.

"Basically, TAVR allows us to replace the valve through a small opening near the groin, rather than open heart surgery," Patterson said. While there is an increase chance of stroke with TAVR, studies show that for the inoperable, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.

Original Post: Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, Summer 2012 newsletter

For additional information on Sarasota Memorial Hospital contact Florida Medical Retreat.


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