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Delve into 12: Medical center

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  • | 5:00 a.m. January 4, 2012
  • Longboat Key
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Dr. Pamela Letts described the difficulties of practicing medicine on Longboat Key to a crowd of approximately 75 in April. On a winter day, as many as 30 patients come to her clinic, the Centre Shops Family Practice and Urgent Care; a slow summer day often sees as few as three patients.

Letts spoke about the challenges at a community discussion entitled, “The Future of Healthcare on Longboat Key,” and told the crowd about the formation of the Longboat Key Healthcare Committee, which she formed to explore alternative non-profit models of medicine for the Key. Resident Joe Curl described another model of providing services, one that he and others formed, the Bay Isles Health Care Committee, to explore: partnering with Sarasota Memorial Hospital to create a satellite clinic.

“Longboat Key sends $3.6 million per year in tax dollars to Sarasota Memorial Hospital,” Curl said at the meeting. “For that, we get the opportunity, if we have to, to use that fine hospital. Our committee thought we ought to have more than that.”

Now, the two groups have joined together to form the Longboat Key Healthcare Foundation. They’re moving forward with plans to create a medical center — and they aren’t waiting for SMH.

Letts said that the foundation has met with Gulf Coast Community Foundation senior philanthropic adviser Scott Anderson, who has given members “valuable input.” It has also revised its business plan and is ready to submit 501c3 forms for a foundation to the IRS. Before the foundation can move forward, it will need to raise $8,000 of seed money through a loan or gift.

The medical center could take one of two forms, according to Letts: a for-profit clinic that is affiliated with a foundation with a scope broader than medical care alone or a non-profit medical center with its own fundraising foundation.

For now, Letts said, the regimen for the medical center is to keep things simple. She is focused on maintaining the clinic as it is but could eventually look at expanding and moving.

Letts said that the island is losing medical services — a trend she hopes she can begin to reverse in 2012.

“What I want to do is stabilize that downhill slide,” she said.

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