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People to watch in 2016: Bob Simmons

As the chairman of the Longboat Key Foundation, Bob Simmons has helped pave the way for a new medical facility on the Key.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. January 6, 2016
Bob Simmons
Bob Simmons
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Concerned about the lack of primary care medicine on Longboat Key? Bob Simmons plans to bring a dose of medicine to the island in his role as chairman of the Longboat Key Foundation.

In June, the foundation kicked off a $1.6 million campaign for a new medical facility on the Key. The money will pay for a building lease, the build-out of the facility and two years’ worth of startup and operating costs needed to run the facility year-round.

“Having this center is a necessity to Longboat,” Simmons said. “We don’t have a primary care doctor on the island. It’s an underserved need.”

Proposed services at the center include family medicine, women’s health, behavioral health, an onsite lab and imaging and specialist services.

The statement of community need of the center states: “We must restore and enhance the health care services available on Longboat Key to better serve residents and visitors, improve our self-sufficiency as a community and enable residents to remain on Longboat Key as they age.”

Longboat Key has not had a family care physician since May 2014, when Dr. Pamela Letts, owner of the Centre Shops Family Practice and Urgent Care, retired.

The Longboat Key Foundation was established in late 2013 to help donors address community needs. Since its founding, it has been a top priority of the organization to establish a new medical center.

“We can’t say who or where, but we’ve chosen the site, and we’ve chosen the doctor,” Simmons said. “It’s a matter of formalizing both of them. We’ve really moved this plan along and are getting closer to our dream of opening a new medical center on Longboat Key.”

Simmons hopes to open the medical center, called Longboat Key Center for Healthy Living, by the end of the first quarter of 2016, and it will be on or near the vicinity of Bay Isles Road and Bay Isles Parkway. The lease and the agreement with the doctor are currently being finalized.

Simmons, who moved to Longboat Key full-time three years ago, has a background of working for various health care suppliers, which helps him plan for the medical center.

“We’re very excited, and we’re getting closer to making it happen,” Simmons said. “We’re inching toward the goal line.”

When he’s not working on plans for the medical center, Simmons is directing Tuttle Elementary School’s food pantry with his wife, Teresa. As part of the Rotary Club of Longboat Key, the couple established the pantry last January.

The food pantry is held every other week. At the first pantry, Simmons served 23 families. Now, the pantry has grown and regularly serves around 100 families. Between January and May 2015, the food pantry served 13,556 total pounds of food and 11,296 total meals.

“Things are going great,” Simmons said. “We just keep getting busier. The turnout is wonderful, and it’s really something to help these people.”



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