Florida Medical Retreat is recognized by the Canadian Travel Press

On April 20, 2012, Florida Medical Retreat took part in a Visit Florida event in Toronto, Ontario.  Ian Stalker from Canadian Travel Press attended the event and here's what he had to say. 

Sarasota retreat a healthy option

"Sarasota, Florida's Florida Medical Retreat is inviting Canadians seeking out-of-country medical care to experience some Florida sunshine that it says can go hand in hand with superior medical treatments.

The facility's Dr. Scott Elsbree told a Toronto gathering recently that the Sarasota area is home to hundreds of doctors from around the world and the Florida Medical Retreat "handpicked the top 13". It gives patients "immediate access" to graduates of top medical schools in the United States, and the facility also has "state-0f-the-art technology," he added.

Elsbree said Florida Medical Retreat has negotiated rates with two local hospitals that lead to discounted rates for its clients, and can also provide discounts for the likes of air travel, car rentals and hotel stays.

Florida Medical Retreat will pick up its clients when they arrive at the airport. Elsbree also praised Sarasota hospitals, saying two have been ranked among the top 100 in the United States.

More information can be found as www.floridamedicalretreat.com.


Hip Replacements Heal Faster with Anterior Approach

Most of the important muscles we use for daily activities are in the buttocks, which is why the prospect of hip replacement surgery can seem so daunting to some. Getting in and out of chairs, into a car or going up and down stairs can become an arduous task in the weeks following traditional hip replacement surgery.

But a new approach that allows surgeons to maneuver around rather than through the muscles that surround the hip is reducing post-surgery pain and cutting recovery times in half. The Anterior Supine Intermuscular (ASI) approach uses smaller incisions at the front of the hip instead of the side or back of the hip, allowing surgeons to preserve those important muscles and tendons while helping patients experience less pain and a faster return to daily activities.

Orthopedic Hip & Knee surgeon, Dr. Edward Stolarski  performs ASI Hip Replacement surgery. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Stolarski or for more information, contact Florida Medical Retreat.

USA: New national tourism strategy will help inbound medical tourism

The first ever national strategy to promote all forms of inbound tourism to the USA, and make it quicker and easier for people to enter the USA as visitors, will help US hospitals promote inbound medical tourism, and may even get people to think twice before looking overseas.
The National Travel and Tourism Strategy promises federal support for travel in a way never before seen in the U.S. The strategy mandates the creation of a National Travel and Tourism Office within the Commerce Department. It also sets an ambitious goal of attracting 100 million foreign visitors annually to the USA by 2021, up from 60 million in 2011.
The new National Travel and Tourism Office gives the industry a major platform for influencing policies across the federal government. The office will be the central driving force for travel and tourism policy in the federal government.
The strategy includes more steps to ease entry for foreign visitors; a promise to better coordinate federal programs that affect tourism, and government support for travel-related research.
Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association comments, “The travel industry is very, very excited about this. A national strategy is finally here, and we have been talking about it for 16 years.” Tony Gonchar of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) adds, “It acknowledges the role travel agents play in driving international visitors to the United States. I am pleased to hear the White House’s promise to work more closely with private-sector entities and trade associations in policy development.” The new strategy recognizes the travel industry’s importance to economic growth and job creation. Travel and tourism contributes $125 billion in service exports to the economy, making it the leading service sector contributor to the balance of trade.
The strategy sets forth an ambitious goal of making the USA the world’s top travel destination by the end of 2021. If it succeeds in attracting 100 million international visitors annually, they would spend an estimated $250 billion.
The strategy also includes the first ever promotion to encourage Americans to travel across the states, and this could give a new impetus to domestic medical tourism.
The 10-year five areas of focus are:
•    Promoting the United States by capitalizing on the growing demand for travel and tourism in the USA, creating a positive and welcoming message for international visitors.
•    Enabling and enhancing travel and tourism to and within the United States by working to reduce institutional barriers to the free flow of trade in travel services; expanding the Visa Waiver Program; enhancing U.S. visa processing; expanding trusted traveller programmes and expediting screening initiatives; and improving the processes for arrival and aviation security screening initiatives.
•    Providing world-class customer service and visitor experiences that will inspire repeat visitation and positive word-of-mouth.
•    Coordinating across government to prioritize its support for travel and tourism, better coordinate Federal policies and programs, engage more deliberately with partners, encourage coordinated Federal participation in public-private tourism collaborations and establish a national travel and tourism office to provide leadership and focus within the federal government.
•    Conducting research and measuring results to ensure continual progress on the important goals and strategies outlined in this National Strategy.
In key growth markets for international travel, such as China and Brazil, visa interview wait times have already dramatically decreased. The Department of State is making improvements to existing facilities in key markets such as Mexico and India and investing in two new consulates in Brazil. A new pilot programme for first-time visitors to the United States is streamlining the visa renewal process for certain low-risk, previously interviewed visa applicants. In addition to efforts to streamline the visa process, the Department of State will continue to work closely with Brand USA, the public-private partnership charged with promoting travel to the United States.

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Florida Medical Retreat offers da Vinci-S Robotic Surgery

Florida Medical Retreat is pleased to offer state-of-the-art da Vinci-S robotic surgery. Our partner, Sarasota Memorial Hosptial was first in the region to expand use of the da Vinci-S robot to offer minimally invasive robotic surgery for women with gynecological cancers and a range of non-cancerous gynecological conditions, including hysterectomies, partial hysterectomies, myomectomies and other laparoscopic surgeries.

Today, Sarasota Memorial has the greatest number and most experienced da Vinci-trained gynecologic robotic surgeons in the region, offering patients the most choices and latest options in minimally invasive GYN procedures. We also have the only da Vinci-trained gynecologic oncologist in southwest Florida. Using the da Vinci Surgical System, Sarasota’s minimally invasive surgeons can accurately pinpoint cancerous or diseased areas with less damage to healthy tissue, organs, and surrounding nerves. Here, as with urologic surgery, minimally invasive technology benefits patients by causing less trauma, blood loss, scarring and pain. Studies also show that it can also provide better cancer control and ultimately improve long-term outcomes.

If you would like more information on robotic GYN surgery performed by Dr. Michael Swor, or Urology robotic surgery options with Dr. Matthew Perry, contact Florida Medical Retreat.


Five Florida Medical Retreat partner physicians awarded "Top Doctors" by Castle Connolly

2012 Top Doctors Profiles were released in the latest issue of SARASOTA magazine. We are proud to announce five of Florida Medical Retreat's partner physicians made the list!

These are the doctors that other doctors choose when their families need medical care. Dr. Michael Swor, Dr. David Shoemaker, Dr. Jack Wazen, Dr. John Fezza and Dr. John Sylvester topped Castle Connolly's 2012 registry of the best doctors in Sarasota/Manatee.

As a travel for care medical facilitator, Florida Medical Retreat connects worldwide clients with these top doctors. These physicians are truly the top in their field.

Congratulations to Dr. Swor, Dr. Shoemaker, Dr. Wazen , Dr. Fezza  and Dr. Sylvester. To view each physician's personal page on Florida Medical Retreat' s website, please click their name. If you would like more information on these doctors, please contact Florida Medical Retreat.


Sarasota Memorial Hospital Conceirge Services offered to Florida Medical Retreat Clients

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Sarasota Memorial Hospital. As a  service for all FMR clients, the hospital offers Concierge Services.  Their friendly and professional staff is dedicated to exceeding patient expectations. The service is located on the second floor of the Heart & Vascular Institute and offers a dedicated concierge and enhanced communication process. This allow patients and their families a personalized and seamless approach throughout their experience. Your Florida Medical Retreat Patient Care Coordinator stays in close contact with the concierge department ensuring all your needs are met.

Catherine Marino, head of concierge services was recently interviewed.

Q- When and why did Sarasota Memorial create a concierge position?

A- A year ago the robotic surgeons wanted to ensure that patients received the ultimate level of customer service. Since, then, other medical specialties including: cardiology, orthopedics, neurology and obstetrics/gynecology have begun utilizing the concierge services for their patients, too.

Q- What services do you provide to patients and their families?

A- After a surgeon's scheduler determines if a patient is interested in our complimentary services, I contact them to discuss how I can help- from providing directions, forms and information before their visit to greeting them at the valet or the information desk and escorting them to their next destination. We provide those new to the area or the hospital with a visitor's bag that includes information about our community, Sarasota Memorial and their surgeon.

Q- What are your responsibilities during a patient's stay?

A- I'm here as the contact person for them and their family members. I check on the family in the afternoon, while a patient liaison keeps them updated via their cellphones so they don't worry about missing something. After surgical procedures, I visit the patient and provide information about any optional services and stay in touch with various departments to accommodate the patient's needs. 

Q- How do you follow up with patients?

A- After the patient is discharged, I send a concierge letter and survey. We receive great feedback and the comments help us enhance our services. Helping people and making them happy is my passion.

Florida Medical Retreat client's that have their surgery performed at Sarasota Memorial Hospital receive this amazing service. We ensure Catherine and her team have all the information necessary to provide the best care during your stay.

For more information, please contact Florida Medical Retreat.


Medical tourism....it’s not just about price!

There’s a quote about price and value by John Ruskin, an English writer and thinker that many who market medical tourism services would do well to heed.

“It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Ruskin’s quote sums up the problem faced by the prospective medical tourist when researching the options for treatment in another country. It seems to be all about price. “Come to our clinic, our hospital, our country... and we can save you thousands of dollars, pounds, euros on what it would cost for surgery in your own country.”

The clinic/hospital/destination supplements its claims of lowest cost with the usual highest quality/latest technology /best standards claims. And that’s where the disconnect occurs. Cheap implies low quality/high risk purchase.

As Ruskin says, "....if you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run"..... which is why it is never a sensible choice to be the lowest cost offering in the medical tourism market. This is the thorny problem faced by destinations such as India where price is without doubt a major competitive advantage, but the price differential is so significant that patients will ask themselves: "Why is it so cheap?", "How can it be so cheap?", "If it is that cheap, there must be something wrong with it?" "Am I putting myself at risk, if I choose the cheapest provider?"

Comparing medical tourism prices

The other difficulty that the prospective medical tourist faces is making realistic comparisons of price between their own country and the destinations that they are considering. This problem arises on two sides of the comparison.

Firstly, the patient needs to know what they might pay for the surgery or treatment in their own country. Let’s take a patient needing a hip replacement...how easy is it for him or her to find out what the price options are in their own country?

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Sarasota Memorial Named Among Top 5% for Patient Safety

HealthGrades study: If all U.S. hospitals had performed at the level of Sarasota Memorial, about 254,000 patient safety events and 56,367 Medicare deaths could have been avoided from 2008-2010

SARASOTA, Fla. (May 22, 2012) – Sarasota Memorial Health Care System received HealthGrades’ “2012 Patient Safety Excellence Award™” today – a designation given to the nation’s top 5% hospitals for patient safety. It is the ninth consecutive year that Sarasota Memorial has received the independent healthcare rating organization’s safety award.

To evaluate patient safety, HeathGrades analyzed millions of hospitalization records from the Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MedPAR) database and used Patient Safety Indicator software from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to calculate event rates for 13 indicators of patient safety for the nation’s hospitals.
The best-performing hospitals – those that ranked in the top 5 percent of this year’s analysis – received this year’s HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award.
“Delivering safe patient care is not a process, procedure or safety list that you check off at the end of each day – it is a mindset and way of caring for patients every minute of every day that works only with the care and commitment of a competent, cohesive team,” said Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie. “The fact that we’ve received this award nine years in a row is a testament to the ongoing dedication of not only our doctors and caregivers, but our entire staff and the volunteers who help attend to the needs of our patients, or support the caregivers providing that care.”

HealthGrades’ analysis encompassed approximately 40 million hospitalization records (2008-2010) from 5,000 hospitals nationwide that participate in the Medicare program. This year’s study found that Medicare patients at Patient Safety Excellence Award hospitals were almost 48% less likely to experience one of 13 preventable safety events compared to hospitals in the bottom 5% in the nation. Indeed, if all hospitals performed at Sarasota Memorial’s level of distinction, approximately 254,000 patient safety events and 56,367 deaths among Medicare patients could have been avoided, according to the study.
“From improving communication to implementing protocols to make surgery safer, hospitals across the country are working harder to reduce preventable patient safety events. The results of these efforts are clear among this year’s HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award hospitals. Patients of hospitals performing in the top 5% of the nation’s hospitals were almost 48% less likely to experience a patient safety event compared to hospitals ranked in the bottom 5%,” said Kristin Reed, MPH, vice president of hospital quality programs at HealthGrades and author of the study. “Hospitals like Sarasota Memorial are not only setting the bar for high standards of patient safety but also serving as an example for other hospitals.”

The Patient Safety Award is the latest in a series that Sarasota Memorial has received from HealthGrades so far this year. In February, Sarasota Memorial earned the elite “America’s 50 Best Hospitals” designation, placing Sarasota Memorial in the top 1% of hospitals for consistently superior clinical outcomes. Indeed, Sarasota Memorial is one of just five hospitals in the nation to receive the organization’s two top awards six years in a row.
In 2012, Sarasota Memorial also received HealthGrades’ “Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence,” Women’s Health Excellence Award, Maternity Care Excellence Award, Emergency Medicine Excellence award and five-star ratings in 23 specialty areas.

Participation in the HealthGrades studies is not optional - hospitals cannot voluntarily choose to opt in or out of the analysis. Neither can hospitals purchase a ranking.

About HealthGrades’ Patient Safety Study
HealthGrades analyzes the following patient safety events for this study:
•    Death in procedures where mortality is usually very low
•    Pressure or bed sores acquired in hospital
•    Death following a serious complication after surgery
•    Foreign object left in body during a procedure
•    Collapsed lung due to procedure or surgery in or around chest
•    Catheter-related bloodstream infections acquired at hospital
•    Hip fracture following surgery
•    Hemorrhage or hematoma resulting from procedure or surgery
•    Electrolyte and fluid imbalance following surgery
•    Respiratory failure following surgery
•    Deep blood clots in lungs or legs following surgery
•    Sepsis following surgery
•    Breakdown of abdominal incision site

More information on HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award and the ratings methodology is available at HealthGrades.com.

If you would like more information on Sarasota Memorial Hospital contact Florida Medical Retreat.

Dr. John P. Fezza Presents the Latest Medical Advances in Cosmetic Facial Surgery at National Seminar in Atlanta


Dr. John P. Fezza of Center For Sight appeared as a guest speaker at State-of-the-Art in Facial Aesthetics 2012, a national industry symposium jointly sponsored by the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and the Foundation for Facial Aesthetic Surgery. During the three-day event from March 28 through April 1, 2012, in Atlanta, Dr. Fezza was the only Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon representing the Gulf Coast of Florida, presenting three lectures and participating on two case study panels.

 Dr. Fezza was selected to speak in front of hundreds of his peers from throughout the United States for his expertise in cosmetic facial surgery. His lectures were titled: “A Customized Approach to Maximize Brow Lift Results,” “Sigmoid Upper Lid Blepharoplasty: Defining Beauty in the Upper Lid,” and “The Bustier Lower Lid Blepharoplasty: Combining Filling with Fat Removal.”

 Dr. Fezza is a nationally recognized author and lecturer on cosmetic facial and laser surgery, a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the American Board of Ophthalmology and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. He is on the prestigious National Education Faculty for Botox, a Lumenis Laser teacher for physicians worldwide and is an ad hoc preceptor for ASOPRS fellows. Dr. Fezza is also an Affiliate Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of South Florida.

State-of-the-Art Facial Aesthetics is the longest-running, foremost multi-specialty aesthetics symposium in the United States. The non-profit Foundation for Facial Aesthetic Surgery hosts the event annually to provide a forum for leading practitioners and educators to present the latest medical advances in facial rejuvenation.

    If you would like more information on Dr. Fezza, or to schedule an appointment, contact Florida Medical Retreat.

Dr. John Sylvester, Florida Medical Retreat's Radiation Oncologist attends Gec-ESTRO World Congress

Every four years, physicians, physicists, biologists, technicians and companies from all over the world with a keen interest in brachytherapy come together for the World Congress of
Brachytherapy.  This year's World Congress  was combined with the American Brachytherapy Society, and took place on May 10th-12th,2012 in Barcelona, Spain. The scientific program was prepared by GEC-ESTRO, in co-operation with ABS, ALATRO, the Indian and Australasian brachytherapy groups.

Dr. John Sylvester, a world renowned Brachytherapist participated as the moderator of one of the main sessions.  The role was fitting for Dr. Sylvester as 8 years ago he presented the first long term prostate brachytherapy results ever and four years ago he presented the most recent results.

During his time at the congress, Dr. Sylvester met with:

  • Oncura regarding the thin strand I-125 seeds he helped develop with GE/Ocura
  • Isoray regarding Cs-131 IMRT + Seed Boost protocol which Dr. Sylvester is the lead investigator
  • Augmentix, with whom he is one of the lead investigators on a new IG-IMRT protocol

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Dr. Sylvester and one of the leading centers in innovative improved treatments for prostate cancer.

If you would like more information on Dr. Sylvester, or to schedule an appointment, please contact Florida Medical Retreat.

Dr. Engel, Plastic Surgeon with Florida Medical Retreat attends American Society for Plastic Surgery Conference

Dr. Engel attended the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s 45th Annual Meeting.  The Aesthetic Meeting, 2012, took place May 4-8, 2012 at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The conference kicked off with the popular pre-meeting symposia on Friday, May 4th with “Global Hot Topics”.  This new longer format Hot Topics included all the emerging trends from the United States and abroad.

On Saturday, May 5th, the 4-day Scientific Program offered presentations on cutting edge topics such as: new concepts in facial rejuvenation, enhanced breast surgery techniques, updates on new soft tissue fillers and the latest on breast implants.

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with Dr. Engel and for his constant effort to stay on top of the latest developments in his field. 

For more information on Dr. Engel and his services, please contact Florida Medical Retreat.

Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau Hosts National Tourism Week Awards

Florida Medical Retreat's Director of Operations, Crystal Woodworth, received  a nomination for Guest Service Excellence at this year's National Tourism Week awards ceremony. The event was hosted by Westfield Southgate  and enjoyed packed house! Harry Leopold received "The Voice of Sarasota" award for his work promoting Sarasota.

Today also marked Visit Sarasota County's (formerly Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau) 30th anniversary. There was a lot to celebrate with March 2012 marking a record year for tourism in Sarasota County.




FMR partners with The Inn Rehabiliation Center at SMH's Healthcare Foundation

Florida Medical Retreat participated with The Inn's Marketing and Admissions Director, Mary VanSant (pictured above) at Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation's 11th Annual Physicians Golf Tournament on Friday, May 4th.

This year's event hosted over 175 golfers at Laurel Oak Country Club. It was a gorgeous day and a fun way to support the foundations efforts with proceeds benefiting the Physicians Endowment (fund for SMH staff education).

Thanks to those who participated. See you next year!

10 best places to retire in the U.S.

It comes as no surprise to us that Sarasota was rated #1 best place to retire in the US!

Sarasota is the best place to retire in the U.S., according to an analysis by John Brady of TopRetirements.com. This town of 52,000 on Florida’s Gulf Coast — home to the Ringling Museum of Art and boasting many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places — is said to be the cultural capital of the Sunshine State. Plus, the economics of living here are attractive. Median home prices, at $130,000, are well below the national average, and property taxes — about $1,800 for the average home — are reasonable. Plus, there’s no income tax in Florida. And it’s hard to beat the location. Sarasota, surrounded on most sides by water, is tropical and offers warm winters. On the downside, the crime rate in Sarasota is higher than the national average; there are a lot of tourists and traffic in the winter; the summers are hot; and the unemployment rate is 9.8%, versus 8.3% for the U.S. Pictured at left: Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art is housed in a Venetian Gothic mansion bequeathed to the people of Florida by John Ringling, of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

To view the full list click the link: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-best-places-to-retire-in-the-us-2012-02-29

Center For Sight Surgeon Helps Deploy New Laser Cataract Technology in Peru

Sarasota, FL – May 2, 2012 – Center For Sight founder and CEO, Dr. David Shoemaker, was among a select group of 18 ophthalmologists from the U.S. and abroad, who traveled to Lima, Peru to perform laser cataract surgery on Peruvians with very dense cataracts at the Instituto de Ojos Sacro Cuore. The mission was part of a skills transfer program arranged by LensAR, Inc., an Orlando-based company that is designing the next phase of advanced femtosecond laser technology for refractive cataract surgery. In all, 70 cases were performed with remarkable results.

Dr. Shoemaker agrees the new technology holds great promise. “Amazing technology. Flawless execution,” he says. “There is no doubt the LensAR System will result in safer and more predictable outcomes for our patients. It is rare to experience a true ‘Wow!’ moment, and that is exactly what this laser does. Wow!”

The LensAR Laser System uses the most advanced measurement guided beam technology ever offered to cataract surgeons. Previous generations have been cleared by FDA for two specific procedures: anterior capsulotomy and lens fragmentation. The new system has been successfully used in more than 600 eyes worldwide with excellent clinical success and reliability, paving the way to be considered for FDA approval for all cataract procedures.

Dr. Shoemaker is also a member of Florida Medical Retreat. If you would like more information please contact Florida Medical Retreat at (800) 643-0529 or visit www.floridamedicalretreat.com


Florida Medical Retreat visits Toronto, Ontario with Visit Florida


Dr. Scott Elsbree, Medical Director for Florida Medical Retreat spoke to a group of Canadian writers, bloggers, and journalists on Friday, April, 20, 2012.

The breakfast, morning show format hosted by VISIT FLORIDA features Dr. Elsbree speaking about Florida  Medical Retreat with iTravel 2000's "Woman on the street", Lindsay Reader.  To watch Dr. Elsbree's video click the link:


For more information, please contact us at: (800) 643-0529 toll free or (647) 361-7587 local Toronto or visit www.floridamedicalretreat.com



It was TV cameras, stuffed animal mascots and some Beiber at the Hazelton Hotel in Toronto Apr. 20 when VISIT FLORIDA hosted “The FLORIDA Morning Show: Rise and SUNShine.” More than 40 media, agents and partners gathered to hear the interview-style presentations, hosted by Lyndsay Reader, itravel2000’s “Woman on the Street.”

“Canada is Florida’s number one market with 3,278,000 Canadians visiting in 2011, a 5.7 per cent increase over 2010,” said Maureen Wright, director public relations, LMA Communications Inc. “It’s been a banner year.”

Reader then took the stage, interviewing reps from different destinations/organizations in a talk-show setting.

“We have world class diving, fishing and are easy to navigate,” said Christina Baez of Florida Keys and Key West. “And our seafood is the freshest - in the ocean that morning and then on your plate.”

Baez also mentioned that her destinations are very family friendly, with lots of activities for children such as visiting the turtle hospital, playing with real pirate treasure and swimming with dolphins.
Tourists need not worry about the quality of their medical care in Sarasota, according to Dr. Scott Elsbree of Florida Medical Retreat.

“Our thirteen physicians are hand-picked and are some of the best in their fields,” said the doctor adding that Florida Medical Retreat is also convenient and affordable.

There’s still a lot to do even at the end of the shuttle program, said Joel Kaiman of Florida’s Space Coast. Space Coast activities include viewings of launch sites, lunch with astronauts, a shuttle launch experience and viewings of actual shuttles.

“We are known as the Venice of America,” said Jessica Taylor of Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB. This destination is surrounded by water with 300 miles of inland waterways. Activities include water sports, the Red Eye to see gators at their most active in the Everglades at night as well as film festivals and live music.

Katharina Lane of Hayworth Creative represents four resorts: The Inn on Fifth, Amelia Island, TradeWinds Island Resorts and Plantation on Crystal River. Lane says each resort has its own unique deals specially formatted for Canadian visitors in 2012, such as a complimentary bottle of wine with a booking.

“We’re not as built up as other areas of Florida, so we’ve got a different feel,” said Lee Rose of the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. Rose spoke of his destinations shell collecting culture, abundant wildlife, Thomas Edison laboratory tour and more than 100 islands to visit.

Anita Walker of Visit Orlando, complete with stuffed animal mascot, spoke of the 12 new attractions for 2012 in her destination, including a zipline rollercoaster, the Turtle Trek opening at Sea World and new resorts such as the “Art of Animation” Resort.

“We are known for celebrities,” said Mary Haban of Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. “Selena Gomez is filming a movie there now and so we see Justin Beiber there a lot.” Haban says highlights of her destination are kay-yoga, where participants kayak to remote islands to partake in yoga classes and the Dali Museum, which now boasts of a half-million visitors a year.

Story by: Lindsay Kyte with Travel Hot News.com


The Inn at Sarasota Bay Club Receives 2012 Best of Sarasota Award

Florida Medical Retreat is proud to partner with The Inn at Sarasota Bay Club. The Inn is the premiere rehabilitation facility in Sarasota. Please join us in congratulating The Inn on this outstanding achievement! For more information contact Florida Medical Retreat.

U.S. Commerce Association’s Award Plaque Honors the Achievement

NEW YORK, NY, April 18, 2012 -- For the fourth consecutive year, The Inn at Sarasota Bay Club has been selected for the 2012 Best of Sarasota Award in the Rehabilitation / Nursing Home category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Nationwide, only 1 in 250 (less than half of 1%) 2012 Award recipients qualified as Four-Time Award Winners. Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2012 USCA Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a New York City based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association


Sarasota Memorial Harnesses Florida’s Sunshine - Happy Earth Day!!

Solar panels latest energy saving project in health system’s ongoing effort to promote an environmentally friendly and green workplace

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 17, 2012)

Just in time for Earth Day, Sarasota Memorial Hospital will complete the installation this week of 40 solar panels atop the main campus’ Waldemere Tower.

The roughly 1,300 square-foot solar array is a pilot project designed to produce on average 1,000,000 BTUs of heated water per day to supplement the hospital’s air conditioning and heating systems’ boilers.
The cost of the entire project is $226,000 with an estimated 7- to 10-year payback, in addition to a $36,000 rebate from Florida Power & Light. Although it’s a relatively small job compared to the $250 million Courtyard Tower and campus improvements under way, it’s a big step in the hospital’s ongoing effort to promote an environmentally friendly and green workplace.

"We live in the Sunshine State – it’s just the right thing to do,” said Jim Bugyis, Operation of Plant Director at Sarasota Memorial. “If we can keep finding ways to capture the power of the sun, use less electricity and reduce our carbon footprint, it all adds up.”

The solar panels were purchased from Enerworks Solar Heating and Cooling. The design, engineering and installation were all provided by local companies. Each panel is secured with steel I-beams and engineered to withstand the same hurricane force winds as the main hospital.

The flat white rooftop of the Waldemere Tower has the potential to reflect up to 60 percent of the sun’s energy, reducing the heat load on the building. If the solar panel project demonstrates a reasonable gain in BTUs, the health system will consider expanding the pilot across its regional network of facilities and medical campuses.

“It’s not new technology,” Bugyis pointed out. “People have been using solar power to heat their pools, houses and other machinery for years. We’re just learning the best way to apply it in the hospital and make it financially feasible.”

In the past two years, other SMH green team initiatives include:
-- Installing Dyson Airblade hand dryers in first floor public restrooms, reducing waste from paper towels and its carbon footprint (70% less carbon than paper towels).

-- Implementing a reusable sharps service, reducing our carbon footprint by 26,000 pounds of CO2 through the diversion of 43,835 pounds of plastic and 4,000 pounds of cardboard from our waste stream in 2009. In addition, our supplies reprocessing program has saved 3,680 pounds and $242,825.

-- Replacing more than 10,000 bulbs with energy-efficient lighting (old bulbs are recycled).
-- Recycling more than 278 tons of waste and more than 600 gallons of motor oil annually.
-- Participating in a yard waste/construction debris recycling program.
-- Adopting roads to clean up.
-- Using cafeteria flatware and to-go containers made from biodegradable “envirofoam.”

-- Participating in a used electronic equipment recycling program.

-- Planting Florida-friendly landscaping and using reclaimed water for irrigation.

-- Using environmentally friendly pest control methods.

-- Saving nearly 100,000 gallons of water daily by using reclaimed water in our energy plant.

-- Upgrading exterior lighting to LED lights, which use less electricity and last longer.

-- Creating a bicycle friendly environment for staff and community members. SMH was recognized in 2011 for being among 55 new Bicycle Friendly Businesses receiving awards at this year’s National Bike Summit, hosted each year by the League of American Bicyclists. And this year, the hospital gained national attention for its public safety bike patrol.   

EARTH DAY 2012 – SMH Community Event
Join SMH’s Green Team in celebrating Earth Day by recycling your old cell phones! SMH is teaming up with Stericycle, a medical waste disposal services company, to promote sustainability. Staff, patients and visitors are invited to bring in their personal cell phones and drop them off in exchange for a prize (limit 1 prize per person, but bring in as many old phones as you wish).  

When: 8-9:30 am and 11 am-2 pm Monday, April 23.

Where: Windows Cafeteria (4th floor near B-elevators), Sarasota Memorial Hospital, 1700 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
Information: SMH also will showcase its new integrated waste stream management program to promote sustainability by introducing “single stream” recycling for recyclable items and providing reusable containers for other waste. The program not only diverts waste from the landfill, but also is expected to save the hospital $30,000 or more per year.

Sarasota Memorial Named Among Nation’s 100 Top Hospitals

Florida Medical Retreat is thrilled to report that Sarasota Memorial Hospital also made the Thomas Reuters Top 100 hospitals list!

The public hospital is one of only 15 independent institutions to make the list, and one of 12 to earn Thomson’s Everest Award for best and fastest long-term improvement  

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 16, 2012) – Sarasota Memorial Hospital was named among Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals® based on its superior clinical outcomes and overall operational performance.

To be named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in the nation is a unique honor, because the study takes into account all aspects of organizational performance, including patient care, efficiency and financial stability. The annual benchmark study evaluates 10 measures of hospital performance: mortality, medical complications, patient safety, average patient stay, expenses, profitability, patient satisfaction, adherence to clinical standards of care, post-discharge mortality, and readmission rates for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.

The results are based on independent public information – Medicare cost reports, Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MedPAR) data, and core measures and patient satisfaction data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare website. Hospitals cannot apply or purchase the recognition; neither can they opt out of the study.

Sarasota Memorial, named to the list for the second time, was one of just 15 independent hospitals to make the top 100 list, and one of only 12 across the nation to earn Thomson’s Everest Award, which goes to hospitals exhibiting top current organization-wide performance as well as the fastest long-term performance improvement. The winners were announced in today’s issue of Modern Healthcare magazine, and the publication singled out Sarasota Memorial along with Scripps Green Hospital, La Jolla, Calif., and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
“Receiving such a prominent award is an honor – only 100 hospitals, less than 2 percent – make this prestigious list. It’s truly a testament to the dedication and outstanding performance of not only the doctors and nurses caring for our patients, but also the many clinicians and non-clinical staff who support that care,” said Sarasota Memorial Health Care System President & CEO Gwen MacKenzie.

The Thomson study compared nearly 3,000 U.S. hospitals treating a broad spectrum of patients. The hospitals are compared to peers of similar size, and winners are listed in five categories: two groups of teaching hospitals and three groups of community hospitals based on size/bed count. Sarasota Memorial was compared to large community hospitals (250 or more beds);
According to Thomson, the 12 hospitals that won the Everest Award "are a special group of 100 Top Hospitals award-winners that in addition to achieving benchmark status for one year, have simultaneously set national benchmarks for the fastest long-term (five-year) improvement ... based on a set of measures that reflect highly effective performance across the entire organization."

According to the latest study, if all Medicare inpatients received the same level of care as those treated in the award-winning facilities:  

--More than 186,000 additional lives would be saved each year. Top 100 winners have 5 percent fewer deaths than expected, while non-winning peer hospitals had only 1 percent fewer deaths than expected.

--Approximately 56,000 patients could be complication-free. Again, 100 top hospitals had 5 percent fewer complications than expected, compared to 1 percent of peer hospitals not on the list.

--More than $4.3 billion could be saved. The typical winning hospital charges $464 less per discharge than non-winners. In fact, of all the hospital comparison groups, ours -- large community hospitals  -- had the lowest expenses and outperformed peers by one of the widest margins.

--The average patient stay would decrease by half a day.

If the same standards were applied to all inpatients, the impact would be even greater, said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president for performance improvement and 100 Top Hospitals program at Thomson Reuters.

More information on this study and other 100 Top Hospitals research is available at: www.100tophospitals.com


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