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. 



Sarasota Memorial has earned Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification from DNV Healthcare, one of the leading accrediting organizations in the nation. The certification shows that Sarasota Memorial meets the highest standards of stroke care, from diagnosis and treatment to research, rehabilitation and education.

Please join us in congratulating Sarasota Memorial on this achievement.


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).


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 Announces New Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery, Unveils “Hybrid” Operating Room


Sarasota Memorial Hospital (www.smh.com) named cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Sell as its new Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery. Sell is a specialist in congenital heart disease, and pediatric and transplant surgery. Sarasota Memorial also unveiled a new “hybrid” operating room, which will allow surgeons, cardiologists and other specialists to collaborate in one setting, minimizing the number of invasive procedures for complex conditions. Sell will begin working at the hospital in March, and the new operating room will be ready for use in January.

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 Memorial Hospital Listed Among Nation’s Top Two Hospitals for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia care

Florida Medical Retreat is thrilled to share this exciting news from our hospital member, Sarasota Memorial Hospital!

Sarasota Memorial Hospital was one of just two hospitals – out of more than 4,000 nationwide – singled out for demonstrating the lowest (best) readmission rates in the nation for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia patients.

Newly-released data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted on the government’s Hospital Compare website reveals mortality and re-admission rates for more than 4,600 hospitals nationwide. The data shows how often patients died or were readmitted within 30 days of discharge from a previous hospital stay for heart attack, heart failure, or pneumonia.
Sarasota Memorial was one of only two hospitals in the nation to perform well-above the national average in all three readmission categories studied. The data, which covers a three-year period from July 2008 to June 2011, was posted this month on CMS’ Hospital Compare website; an analysis this week by Kaiser Health News spotlighted Sarasota Memorial and Citrus Memorial Hospital (Inverness, FL) as the only two hospitals in the nation that had better than average readmission rates for all three conditions.
According to the Kaiser study, only 1 percent of hospitals were labeled as better than average in heart attack (30 hospitals) or pneumonia cases (33 hospitals) and only 2 percent (94 hospitals) were labeled as better than average in heart failure.

The study, based on the most recent Medicare data available, showed that:
• 19.7 percent of heart attack patients were readmitted within 30 days of discharge
• 24.7 percent of heart failure patients were readmitted • 18.5 percent of pneumonia patients were readmitted
In comparison, readmission rates at Sarasota Memorial were 16.2 percent for heart attacks, 19.7 percent for heart failure and 15.6 percent for pneumonia. Sarasota Memorial also scored well on mortality rates for each of the three conditions.

The rates are all “risk-adjusted” — which means they take into account how sick patients were, to make sure hospitals of different sizes and with different patient populations can be compared fairly.

“Of all the achievements Sarasota Memorial has earned in recent years, we’re particularly proud of our low readmission rates,” said Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie. “We have many quality goals, but among the most critical are reducing readmissions, complications and mortality.

“Achieving such low readmission rates is a tribute to everyone on our health care team and the continuum of care they provide. It means that we’re following up and communicating well with our patients, their families and each other to make sure everyone is on the same page, that everyone understands our patients’ diagnoses, their medications, their plans of care and how to care for themselves once they leave the hospital.”

Center For Sight First in Nation to Launch LensAR Laser for Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is about to undergo a revolutionary advance—shifting from the conventional hand-held blade—to an ultramodern blade-free, femtosecond laser procedure which can treat even the hardest cataracts in mere minutes. Not since the “no-stitch” cataract procedure has the ophthalmology profession experienced such a seismic shift in eye surgery; and it’s now in Sarasota.

For nearly two years Center For Sight founder and CEO, David Shoemaker, M.D., has been cautiously monitoring developments related to the use of femtosecond lasers in cataract surgery with a keen interest in the technology offered through the LensAR Laser System designed by LensAR, Inc., an Orlando-based company. He was among a select group of 18 ophthalmologists from the U.S. and abroad who recently traveled to Lima, Peru to help deploy the technology in that country. While there, he performed laser cataract surgery on 20 patients with very dense cataracts and was amazed with the flawless execution of this amazing technology. He will perform the first LensAR Laser Cataract procedure in the United States on August 1st.

“There is no doubt the LensAR Laser System will result in safer and more predictable outcomes for patients throughout the world,” says Dr. Shoemaker. “It is rare to experience a true ‘Wow!’ moment in medicine, and that is exactly what this laser does. We couldn’t be more excited to bring this technology to Sarasota.”

With Laser Cataract Surgery, the hand-held blade will be limited to a supporting role. The LensAR Laser System uses the most advanced scanning beam technology ever offered to surgeons. The system employs a proprietary, high resolution 3D-CSI measurement device combined with an advanced femtosecond laser designed to deliver laser pulse placement and surgical incisions with unsurpassed precision.

“LensAR Laser System has been successfully used outside the U.S. with excellent clinical success and reliability,” says Dr. Shoemaker. “It’s a privilege to be the first in country to offer the genius of this laser technology to our patients.”

For more information, please contact Florida Medical Retreat.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital -Columbia Medical Center Partner to Provide Leading Edge Heart Care

Collaboration between Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and Columbia University Medical Center’s Division of Cardiac Surgery to provide Tampa Bay &  patients greater access to the latest innovations and treatment options in cardiac care.

SARASOTA, Fla. (March 29, 2012) – Sarasota Memorial Health Care System has been consistently recognized among the nation’s best hospitals for cardiac care. Just last week, it was once again ranked among America’s 50 Best Hospitals by HealthGrades, with 5-star ratings in heart care and more than 20 other specialties.

New York’s Columbia University Medical Center has long been ranked among the best academic medical schools and cardiovascular teaching programs in the nation.

Today, officials from the two top heart programs announced a strategic collaboration to make heart care even better for those living in Southwest Florida.

“This collaboration brings together the best of both worlds – one of the nation's top academic medical centers and one of the nation’s best community hospitals,” said Ricardo Yaryura, MD, medical director of Sarasota Memorial’s cardiology services.

“Sarasota Memorial has exceptionally trained and experienced cardiologists and cardiac surgeons,” he added. “The collaborative training opportunities will allow us to further build our program and accelerate Sarasota Memorial’s ability to pioneer new technology and provide local patients and physicians with the latest innovations and treatment options in cardiac care.”

The affiliation with Columbia’s Division of Cardiac Surgery, ranked sixth in the nation for cardiovascular care by U.S. News & World Report, gives Sarasota Memorial and its physicians 24/7 access to the cardiac surgery faculty and researchers at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons medical school for case consultation, as well as the latest teaching, research initiatives and clinical trials under way in the academic setting.

“We are proud to align ourselves with Sarasota Memorial, and share our academic strengths, training and research initiatives with an already top-notch cardiac team,” said Craig Smith, MD, chairman of Columbia’s Department of Surgery. “The collaboration will combine the strengths of both programs to ensure patients have access to state-of-the-art technology and research and receive outstanding cardiac care.”

Benefits of the collaboration include:

• 24/7 access to Columbia’s cardiac surgery faculty and researchers for case consultation.
• Accelerated access to new cardiac devices and therapies, including the latest minimally invasive and percutaneous treatment options.
• Participation in research initiatives and clinical trials under way in the academic setting. Sarasota Memorial physicians also will have the opportunity to receive Columbia faculty appointments.
• Greater visibility as the hospital recruits top-notch physicians and clinical leaders to the region.
• Coordinated access to Columbia Medical Center in New York for patients who need procedures not routinely performed at Sarasota Memorial, such as pediatric heart surgery and heart transplants.

The collaboration was announced as Sarasota Memorial pursues some of the latest advances in cardiac care. Later this year, the hospital will open a new hybrid OR-cardiac catheterization lab, thanks to a grant from Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Inc. The state-of-the-art procedure room will allow cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to perform complex procedures simultaneously, so heart patients who need more than one surgery don’t have to go through multiple procedures and recovery periods. Columbia had the first dual-trained surgeon in both cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology, and has an established hybrid surgery program and protocols with outstanding clinical outcomes and low co-morbidities. Sarasota Memorial and its physicians will benefit from shared resources and one of the best training programs in the nation.

Similarly, the hospital is opening a new Valve Center in the coming months to offer the latest tests and treatments – including minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement, TAVR – for patients with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the heart valves). The procedure is used to replace high-risk patients’ diseased aortic valve without heart bypass or open-heart surgery. Columbia’s experience with its own well-established Valve Clinic can guide Sarasota Memorial’s efforts as the local program evolves.

“This relationship presents wonderful learning opportunities for everyone involved,” said Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie. “With Columbia at our side, we’ve gained a study partner at the top of its class, with skills and experience that complement and augment our own – and most importantly, one that shares our commitment to bring the benefits of academic medicine to the people of our community.”

About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of inpatient, outpatient and extended care services, with more than 800,000 patient visits a year. Sarasota Memorial’s 806-bed acute care hospital has ranked among the top 1% of the nation’s 5,000-plus hospitals for consistent clinical excellence in HealthGrades’ annual studies since the award’s inception in 2007. To be recognized with this distinction, hospitals must achieve the lowest risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates in the nation for the most consecutive years. For information, visit: www.smh.com

About Columbia University Medical Center
Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical, and clinical research; in medical and health sciences education; and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest in the United States. For more information, please visit www.cumc.columbia.edu

This is great news for Sarasota!

For a great vacation in Sarasota, there's an app for that!

By Virginia Haley, President of Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau (SCVB) has been in the digital driver's seat for more than 15 years.

We understood early that digital marketing would be a fundamental tool in our campaign to market the vacation possibilities on Florida's Gulf Coast. This understanding was reflected in our decision to invest heavily in online advertising, social media and email marketing years ago. Like many destination management organizations, the SCVB didn't enter into digital lightly. We came prepared with strategies that captured interaction metrics and tactics for anticipating new consumer touch points.

The Web is a steady resource for visitors researching destinations, booking flights and hotels and deciding what to do once when they arrive at their destination. That's why Sarasotafl.org is designed to encapsulate all the vacation possibilities Sarasota County has to offer, while making the online experience seamless.

The site highlights the award-winning Sarasota County beaches, including the recently ranked No. 1 beach in the nation, Siesta Beach, of course, as well as culinary delights, arts and cultural events and eco-adventures. Visitors can search for content by location or by theme, making everything from finding the perfect hotel for you and your pet to planning the best excursion for your family as easy as possible.

Best of all, visitors can easily navigate the robust website thanks to menu sliders that stay in place so visitors know exactly "where they are" and can see "where they want to go." And since online travel bookings account for more than a third of the total travel marketplace, according to a PhoCusWright travel industry report, once visitors have crystallized their ideal Sarasota vacation, they then can book their flights, hotel and transportation right on the site.

With the percentage of smartphone users spiking nationally to 35 percent in 2011, we knew it was time to take our mobile marketing to the next level. According to Pew Internet & American Life Project's Smartphone Adoption and Usage Study in 2011, 25 percent of smartphone users said their smartphone was their main tool for Internet access. We wanted to take advantage of that trend with an application for mobile devices that made Sarasota County vacations even better by connecting the dots between vacationers and our diverse areas and events.

We went straight to the source to build an app that gave travelers the inside scoop on everything about Sarasota County. We interviewed travelers and hotel concierges and analyzed web metrics and travel research. Then, we prioritized functionality to settle on the features — places, deals, and events — that would make any traveler fall for the app. To capture the exciting new brand that was launched in 2011, the design used vibrant photos as well as color-coded themes throughout its interface. Our prototypes were rolled out to CVB partners and test audiences to gauge reaction and perfect the app.

The Visit Sarasota iPhone app launched in September 2011 and quickly snagged a 5-star rating in the App Store. Best of all, visitors had Sarasota County — whether they were planning a trip or already here — right at their fingertips.

The features travelers use most are the social sharing, events and deals — all of which can be filtered by their interests. Now, visitors know about events and activities across the entire destination, not just the street or even the island their hotel is on. The app, along with overall marketing initiatives, helped to increase market share of first-time visitors.

As for overall website results, we've seen more great news. For all of 2011, page views on the site are up by more than 23 percent to over 5 million, and people are averaging more than four minutes per visit on the website — an increase of 8 percent from last year.

We've also seen a terrific boost in the Arts & Culture sections of the website, which increased page view 43 percent for the October-to-January period, proving that our niche marketing focus is paying off.


Patient testimonial for The Inn at the Sarasota Bay Club

"Dear Dr. Sandberg, … I recently departed The Inn at The Sarasota Bay Club (AKA The Ritz Carleton North) after 17 glorious days and nights as a “guest”. Never before in my 73 years on this planet have I had a more memorable experience. From the top administrator to the newest employee, all of the staff was incredible…”




Pateint testimonial for The Inn at the Sarasota Bay Club

 We are pleased to share a patient testimonial from their stay at The Inn at the Sarasota Bay Club.

“Dear Dr. Sandberg, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude for the wonderful care I had received during my rehabilitation at the Inn…The Inn is such a serene, lovely, ideal place to recover…In addition, my appreciation extends to the culinary team who were exceptional in meeting my dietary needs in the most gracious way. In the future I will always hold the Inn of Sarasota By Club in the highest regards to those enduring for future rehabilitation purposes.”



Sarasota Memorial Welcomes new OB/GYN specialist

SARASOTA (Sept. 7, 2011) –Sarasota Memorial Health Care System welcomed a new OB/GYN physician into its First Physician Group (FPG) network. On Monday, Kristen Shepherd, MD, joined the obstetrics/gynecology practice of Drs. Ruth Dyal, Kelly Hamel, Neil Pollack, Michael Shroder and Greg Towsley, at 1921 Waldemere Street, Suite 802 (Waldemere Medical Plaza).
The group is part of First Physicians Group – a network of more than 72 primary and specialty care physicians employed by Sarasota Memorial to help fill the gaps caused by a shortage of primary care physicians in the region.
Dr. Shepherd is not new to FPG. During her third year as a medical student at Florida State University, she completed a rotation with the practice group. After receiving her medical degree from FSU, Dr. Shepherd completed her residency at the University of Florida-Jacksonville.
She is now accepting new patients. To make an appointment or for information about the practice, call 917-7888.
About Dr. Shepherd:
Medical Education: Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida
Residency: University of Florida at Jacksonville, Florida
Certification: Board Eligible, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

By Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D.

Board Certified – Fellowship Trained Orthopaedic Surgeon

Unfortunately, tennis elbow affects many of us. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is the most common injury in patients seeking medical attention with the complaint of elbow pain. Tennis elbow occurs in men and women equally, and on the dominant side 75% of the time. The typical age to get tennis elbow is between 35 and 65 years old.

It is thought that the problem occurs because of small, irreparable tears in the tendon that cocks up the wrist. Pain over the outside of the elbow is the most common symptom, which is where this tendon begins. This same tendon (called the extensor carpi radialis brevis or ECRB) also shares its origin with the common finger extensor tendons, which straighten the fingers out. Thus, it is not uncommon for the pain to extend down the top of the forearm to the wrist and hand. Usually my patients describe the pain when they are lifting things, especially away from their body, with the forearm turned palm down and the wrist flexed, or bent towards the palm side. Some pain can even be at rest and feel very intense like a burning or stabbing pain. The pain associated with tennis elbow usually has a gradual onset, but may also come on suddenly. Numbness is not associated with tennis elbow. 

Tennis elbow is typically seen in manual laborers (plummers, painters, gardeners, and carpenters) or those involved in racquet sports. Probably 1/3 of regular tennis players experience tennis elbow at some point in their career. In addition to racquet sports, tennis elbow is seen in golfers, fencers, and other sports participants. However, the total number of patients who are tennis players is less than 10 %. It is not common for professional tennis players to get tennis elbow, as you will never see anyone at Wimbledon with a tennis elbow strap on! This is probably due to poor stroke mechanics in the everyday player, whereby the wrist is bent and then extends when striking the ball during the backhand. This puts tremendous strain on the ECRB, and with each stroke, exacerbates the problem. Other contributing factors include striking the ball off the “sweet spot” of the racquet, improper grip size, and over-tensioned tennis strings. Playing on harder surfaces also increases the risk of developing tennis elbow.

 Other causes of pain over the outside of the elbow include instability of the joint, elbow arthritis, and radial tunnel syndrome. The symptoms of these conditions are usually distinct, but in some cases they can be confusing. X-rays of patients who have the diagnosis of tennis elbow are almost always normal. Other studies such as an EMG or MRI are only obtained if there is confusion about the diagnosis.

Before surgery is considered, a trial of at least six months of conservative treatment is indicated and consists of a properly placed forearm or wrist brace and modification of elbow activities. I have not found anti-inflammatory medication or physical therapy to be of significant value, although both can be used if desired. If the above treatment is not helpful, a cortisone injection can be beneficial but no more than three or four injections are recommended in any one location in a year.

Conservative treatment is in two phases. Phase I (pain relief): consists of activity modification, bracing, cortisone injections, and possibly anti-inflammatories and/or physical therapy. Phase II (prevention of recurrence): is equally as important and involves stretching and then later strengthening exercises, proper tennis form, grip size, and string tensioning, so the micro tears will not occur in the future. Stroke mechanics should be evaluated to ensure patients are hitting the ball in the center of the racquet and players should not lead the racquet with a flexed elbow. I will often encourage my patients to see a tennis pro/instructor for a swing and racquet evaluation. Approximately 70% of patients will be symptom free regardless of treatment in one year after symptoms begin. 

Some newer treatments that have been described include extracorporeal shock wave therapy and autologous blood injection. Shockwave therapy is a controversial treatment option for tennis elbow and recent studies have not shown it to be of any benefit. A recent article in the Journal of Hand Surgery reported the results of a small group of patients who underwent injection of their own blood into the location of lateral epicondylitis. More investigation is needed before this should be considered a standard treatment. 

When conservative treatment has failed, usually after 6 months, then surgery is discussed. Many procedures have been described. Procedures as simple as percutaneous release of the tendon off of the bone have been described and more recently arthroscopic procedures or other procedures involving the joint and resection of a ligament as well have been described.

The most popular procedure today is a simple excision of diseased tissue from within the tendon, shaving down the bone and re-attachment of the tendon. This can be performed as an outpatient procedure with regional anesthesia (where only the arm goes to sleep) and through a relatively small incision of approximately 3” long. After surgery, a sterile bandage and splint is placed on the elbow. Patients will remain in a splint for about one week to allow the incision to heal. After that point, the splint is removed, and the patient can begin gentle motion of the wrist and elbow. 85-90% of patients with this technique are typically able to perform full activities without pain after a recuperation of two to three months. Approximately 10-12% of patients have improvement but with some pain during aggressive activities and only 2-3% of patients have no improvement.

Tennis elbow is a very common and disabling problem. It is one of the most common conditions I see in my practice, and can sometimes be the most frustrating because of the persistence or recurrence of symptoms. Thankfully, only a small percentage of patients go on to need surgery. However, until the pain is under control, it can greatly curtail your active lifestyle.

Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D. is a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon specializing in disorders of the hand, wrist, shoulder, and elbow. Dr. Sforzo is a member of Florida Medical Retreat. For more information please contact Florida Medical Retreat at (941) 552-3288 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Dr. Debra Sandberg and Florida Medical Retreat Selected as a finalist for Hall of Fame Award

We are thrilled that Dr. Debra Sandberg, CEO and  Florida Medical Retreat was selected as one of three finalists in the Economic Development Corporation's Hall of Fame Awards 2011 under the category of Entrepreneur.  

The Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County recognize the outstanding achievements of local businesses each year at the Hall of Fame Awards. Businesses compete for the honor of being named the Hall of Fame winner in the Entrepreneur category, which is for businesses that are in their first five years of operation.

Please stay tuned for the announcement of the winners. A Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon, will be held on Friday, September 23, 2011 where the winner of each category will be announced.




Florida Medical Retreat is partnering with Sarasota Sister Cities.

Florida Medical Retreat is partnering with Sarasota Sister Cities. Sarasota Sister Cities Assn. Inc. (SSCA) was founded in 1963 and is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization of volunteers  working outside the realm of government, but with its support, to encourage and facilitate cultural and education exchanges, business opportunities and increased tourism.

The mission of SSCA  is to foster international relationships between Sarasota and cities that have similar interests by creating exchanges in areas of culture, education, tourism, business, healthcare and government. SSCA’s objective is to develop respect, understanding and cooperation through citizen diplomacy. To accomplish this mission we develop relationships with people in cities that have cultural, education, tourism and business environments similar to Sarasota’s.

Stay tuned to learn about the exciting projects we are working on together. If you would like to learn more or find out how you can contribute please join us August 16th by contacting Florida Medical Retreat!

Sarasota Memorial First In Region To Offer Less Invasive Robotic Weight-Loss Surgery

First it was cancer and cardiac surgery, then gynecological and thoracic cases. Now, Sarasota Memorial has become the first hospital in the region to use its da Vinci robot to offer patients the most advanced, minimally invasive option in weight loss surgery.

 Sarasota Memorial General Surgeon John Nora, MD, was the first in the Manatee-Sarasota metro area to perform a robotically assisted Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. Dr. Nora is one of more than a dozen robotic surgeons at Sarasota Memorial trained who use the da Vinci robotic surgical system. Together, the surgeons offer a wide range of general and specialized surgeries, from robotically-assisted hysterectomies, prostate and gynecological cancer surgery, to mitral valve repairs, heart bypass and lung/esophageal cancer surgery.

 Using Sarasota Memorial's break-through da Vinci robot, the surgeons operate with robotic tools through tiny key-hole size incisions. Using high-resolution 3D visualization and computerized instrumentation, the da Vinci system scales, filters and translates the surgeon’s hand and wrist motion into more precise movements with improved dexterity and increased precision and control. The system's 3D cameras provide magnification 10 times that of the naked eye, and the instruments offer an extended range of motion and wrist articulation not possible with the human hand.

 “What we are doing is taking laparascopic general surgery one step further with the robotic capabilities and instrumentation," said Dr. Nora. "Robotic surgery is the future, and Sarasota Memorial remains at the forefront of these advances. Every month, every year, we are expanding the indications and applications for this new technology."


For many patients, da Vinci surgery means significantly less pain and scarring, less blood loss, reduced risk of infection, shorter hospital stays, a much quicker recovery and faster return to normal daily activities compared to conventional open surgery. Most patients who received a da Vinci surgery typically go home within a day or two following the procedure, and return to their normal routines within 1-2 weeks.

Dr. Nora performed the robotic gastric bypass procedure on a 51-year-old Sarasota on Wednesday, July 20. She went home on Friday with just a few 7-8 mm incisions, approximately 30 percent smaller than a traditional laparascopic procedure, and much less invasive than an open surgery.

 The robotic system offered superior visualization with a 3-dimensional camera vs. the 2-dimensional views in a laparascopic procedure, as well as a more nimble and greater range of motion, said Dr. Nora.

 “All of that leads to greater accuracy and benefits to the patient,” said Dr. Nora.

 Sarasota Memorial was the first hospital in Florida – and among the first in the nation – to acquire the da Vinci-S Surgical System after it was introduced to the world market. The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board voted unanimously in March 2006 to purchase the $1.4 million robot to ensure that community members have access to the less invasive, leading edge treatment for many heart and cancer surgeries. The Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Inc. contributed $400,000 in private donations to help purchase the robot. Since then, the hospital has purchased a second robot - again with foundation support – to handle an increasing number of cases.

Dr. G. Michael Swor has joined Florida Medical Retreat!

We are thrilled to welcome Dr. G Michael Swor  of Swor Women's Care to the Florida Medical Retreat team. 

Dr. Swor specialize in advanced state-of-the-art evaluation and treatment of Gyn problems.

Dr. Swor has been serving the Sarasota area for over 20 years. He is the chairman of the department of ObGyn at Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Systems. The department was ranked #1 in Florida in 2006 by US News and World Report.

He is an assistant clinical professor in the department of ObGyn at USF Tampa and a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Surgeons.  Dr. Swor is also a founding member of the Accreditation Council of Advanced Laparoscopy and Hysteroscopy.  He has over 18 years experience in advanced Gyn and laser surgery, and is a member of a number of professional organizations.

His interests are in new technology, advanced procedures and surgical safety. In 2007, he became one of the few gyn surgeons in the country to use the Davinci Robotic surgery technology.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Swor or have questions please contact Florida Medical Retreat.

Longboat Key Club takes top award for 4th consecutive year!

Longboat Key Club & Resort Receives 4th Consecutive Pinnacle Award

Longboat Key Club & Resort has been named a Successful Meetings Magazine 2011 Pinnacle Awards winner for the fourth consecutive year. The awards are evaluated on quality of accommodations, meetings facilities, service standards, amenities and food and beverage offerings.

Please join Florida Medical Retreat in congratulating Longboat Key Club on their continued achievements. If you would like more information on staying at Longboat Key Club for your next Florida Medical Retreat trip please contact our office.



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