Longboat Key will no longer have a family care physician after Dr. Pamela Letts, owner of the Centre Shops Family Practice and Urgent Care, retires May 5.
As Letts prepares for retirement, various parties are working to make medical services a part of the island’s future.
On April 9, David Novak, a longtime practice management consultant, met with the Longboat Key Foundation.
The foundation agreed to consider helping with startup costs and the search for a location if a physician or group of health care providers were willing to open on the island. But the foundation is not willing to provide life support to a practice.
“The foundation is willing to help with a facility and possibly with the capital required for an office,” said Bob Simmons, chairman of the foundation’s board of advisers. “The foundation has a reluctance, I think, to subsidize a practice on a regular basis.”
Novak has been working independently of Letts to bring a medical practice to the island. Earlier this month, he facilitated the visit of a Virginia physician, who opted not to pursue opportunities for practicing on the Key. He believes assistance with the early stages of opening a practice — not a permanent subsidy — would be appropriate.
“If we had a fledgling group that wanted to come out here, we could help with the startup costs so they wouldn’t be too far in the hole,” Novak said.
For at least four years, residents and town officials have discussed how to maintain medical services on the Key, given its seasonal population.
Novak said that a medical practice on the Key needs to be convenient, accessible and offer a friendly environment.
“We have to be better than what they provide on the mainland,” he said.
Laying the foundation
The Longboat Key Foundation has been quiet since it was established last fall, but the group has been working on Key issues behind the scenes.
The foundation has two subcommittees, one of which is exploring a medical center, and, the second of which is discussing a possible cultural center.
One important factor in how the foundation proceeds is whether a town center in the Bay Isles area, which has been proposed as a potential location for a medical center and cultural center, will become a reality.
“I think our planning today is that it will be a reality,” said Bob Simmons, chairman of the foundation’s board of advisers.
The foundation is not yet actively soliciting donations and is waiting to “define the end game” before it begins seeking support, according to Simmons.
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