The island's medical center is on schedule to open in September.
The Paradise Center on Longboat Key has added two new partnerships to its medical clinic, which is due to open in September and will be the only one on the island.
The center will offer services with the Roskamp Institute, which focuses on brain health, and the Silverstein Institute, an ear, nose and throat service, in addition to FitnessQuest physical therapy, Luminary Dermatology and Conexus Health Services primary care. The long-awaited “executive suite” of medical services is on schedule, as construction has carried on during the pandemic. The services will rotate through the building’s medical clinic, operating a few days a week to bring medical care to the island of Longboat Key.
“What we've learned the hard way is that it's virtually impossible for a medical practice to operate year round on Longboat Key, unless they own their building,” executive director Suzy Brenner said. “If they're paying rent, it's very hard for them because of our cyclical population … None of these practices will have to be paying rent to be in a building full time. They're all sort of sharing the general expenses for the medical suite.”
As for the new partnerships, they bring a piece of the puzzle Brenner had been hoping for. The Roskamp Institute studies brain health, dementia, PTSD and the effects of red tide on the neurological system, and will at first be providing seminars on brain health to the population.
“We've been talking about doing this, talking about what they want to be in our medical clinic at some point and that may happen sometime down the road ... but for now, we're just going to work with them in the activity space, to do seminars,” Brenner said.
The Silverstein Institute has clients already on Longboat Key, Brenner said, who currently have to trek out to the mainland. The institute will be able to have its own audiology room within the center to test hearing.
“We always say that rule number one for seniors is don't fall, so balance is something we're always focused on, and then of course FitnessQuest physical therapy is going to be in our building, so they will often refer clients between them because balance and physical therapy work hand-in-hand also,” Brenner said.
Brenner hopes she’s building a “one stop wellness shop” on the island, where everyone knows what everyone else does in the building and can refer clients between them all, including from the social and physical activities from the Paradise Center to the mental health services from JFCS and the medical suites.
Brenner is still working with a podiatrist and orthopedist and is hopeful they’ll work out. All the services are carefully planned and picked to best serve the Longboat Key population, as Brenner and her team have been able to look at Medicare billing data from the Longboat Key ZIP code to see what specialty services are most often used by residents. That way, they could refine their approach and seek partnerships with the most commonly needed specialists. Primary care was always the biggest thing to get right, however.
“Primary care is really kind of the catalyst for other specialty care,” Brenner said. “As people make appointments, we're going to make space available to them. Our guess is it's going to be two or three days a week, and then if it needs to be more, it needs to be more.”
The soft opening is planned for September, but Brenner expects they’ll still be working out the kinks or perhaps missing a service that’s still getting into the building, and plans on a grand opening in November. Luckily, the construction is happening when the center's activities are very low, so there's not a lot to be disrupted and the crews can work efficiently.
“We really, we want to make sure that we've got health care out on Longboat Key, so we're just determined to figure out how to make it work,” Brenner said. “So I'm sure there will be a little bit of trial and error and hopefully people will be patient with us, but we'll figure it out.”