- March 31, 2016
After almost two years on Longboat Key, AllCare Medical Center will close at the end of the month.
The center, which is a tenant of The Longboat Key Center for Healthy Living, will close its Longboat office to focus on its Lakewood Ranch practice.
Dr. Irv Becker, who served as a physician at the center and worked for AllCare Medical Centers previously, said he was terminated from his role in December. Becker is now sure he was terminated, and the practice is closing, due to financial reasons.
“I am sure now because the financial aspect of the practice was failing, and apparently there was no financial support being continued, and I expect that Dr. (Matthew) Nessetti, who owns AllCare Medical Center, thought it was not financially viable to remain there,” Becker said.
A statement from The Center for Healthy Living, which is an offshoot of the Longboat Key Foundation, said its board of directors has begun in-depth research of the island's most prevalent medical and wellness needs as it prepares to begin the search for a new medical provider.
Ken Newmark, the center's vice president, said the board for The Center for Healthy Living is looking to see how health care and wellness needs can be met on the island.
“Remember, we have two different seasons, busy season and off season, so we’re trying to develop and look at statistics, look at age of patients and meet with different sources,” Newmark said. “For example, Chief (Paul) Dezzi from the Longboat Key Rescue. We’re looking at his data to see what might be our medical and health and wellness needs.”
Becker is wary about the future of a potential medical center on Longboat Key because of demographics. Longboat Key is home to 7,000 full-time residents. That number can double during winter season, however Becker said part-time residents aren’t coming here sick and the people that are full-time leave during the summer for vacations elsewhere or already have primary doctors.
“The basis of the practice has to be 7,000 full-time residents,” Becker said. “It can’t be done on seasonal visitors. Do you think that the full-time residents, many of them don’t already have a doctor? The demographics tell us that the average age of Longboat Key is 70 or above. How can these people not have had a doctor? If you have had a doctor for 10 years, are you going to leave that doctor just because somebody opened up on the island?”
If you have had a doctor for 10 years, are you going to leave that doctor just because somebody opened up on the island?”
Becker said a primary care practice is built on people, and that’s why this center didn’t last long. He said Longboat will now go back to how it was when Dr. Pamela Letts retired- void of a health care center.
“So how could we possibly ever have a medical practice on the island? That answer is easy to me,” Becker said. “Only if there was an organization or an individual who felt that it was so important to have a doctor on the island that they are willing to subsidize the practice so that when the practice brought in $5,000 for the month and the expenses were $10,00 for the months, that organization or individual would make up the difference,” Becker said.
AllCare Medical centers are family-owned practices. On Longboat Key, the practice offered primary and urgent care, women’s health, behavioral health and on-site lab and imaging services. Newmark said the board has been speaking with other specialists, such as orthopaedics, podiatrists, chiropractors, dermatologists along with other specialists.
“We’re looking to sort of broaden to see if that might be an effective model,” he said. “We would like to know really what the needs of the population are. Just anecdotally, we found that there are a number of people on Longboat who do not have a primary care doctor, so we would hope to service that.”
Newmark said The Center for Healthy Living and the Longboat Key Foundation are committed to providing this service at a top-notch level. The groups will look at numbers and reimbursements because they want the new tenant to be successful and provide a needed product.
The Center for Healthy Living opened on March 31, 2016 in the Centre Shoppes. The center was created to bring a medical center to Longboat Key with the intention to reassess after two years to ensure the medical needs on Longboat were being met, the statement said.
The Center for Healthy Living began with a two-year sublease with three tenants: AllCare Medical, Fitness Quest Physical Therapy and The Center for Brain Health. The terms of the lease were up on March 31, but AllCare is choosing to close on Feb. 28.
Nessetti, owner of the practice, could not be reached for comment.
“Obviously, we’re sad,” Newmark said. “Everybody is sad that they’re leaving because we were looking forward to healthcare long-term on the island if possible.”
Fitness Quest and The Center for Brain Health have chosen to renew their leases, a statement from The Center for Healthy Living said.
“We would hope that the health providers would be something that would dovetail with these two groups,” Newmark said. “We would like The Center for Healthy Living to be successful and do more than just provide physical care.”
As for when a new medical group could be on Longboat, Newmark can’t say.
“Will it happen tomorrow or in two weeks? Probably not,” he said. “But we’re hopeful that we will have the opportunity to really hopefully do what’s best for Longboat Key.”