- February 15, 2018
Sarasota-based Stratum Health System, the parent company of Tidewell Hospice and other medical-service providers, has teamed with The Paradise Center on Longboat Key to roll out plans for a medical hub in the former Northern Trust building, 540 Bay Isles Road.
In addition to a range of specialist physicians, the building will also house the Center for Healthy Living Clinic, Fitness Quest Physical Therapy and the Center for Brain Health, which are moving from the Centre Shops. Jewish Family & Children’s Service of the Suncoast is establishing a Longboat Key presence at the center, which has yet to be named.
The Paradise Center, which moved from space at Longboat Island Chapel to Temple Beth Israel last summer, will also move in.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Stratum to provide year-round activities, education and wellness support to the residents of Longboat Key,'' said Suzy Brenner, executive director of The Paradise Center, once known as the Aging in Paradise Resource Center.
What makes this venture different from the medical practice that closed in 2018 is that it will function more like a shared medical suite, with different specialists coming in on different days to treat residents. Longboat residents can still keep their primary care doctor and use the specialty medical services offered by the center.
Discussions are underway with orthopedists, hearing specialists, dermatologists and other doctors who specialize in treating older adults about providing services at the clinic, Brenner said.
Brenner said renovations are expected to begin shortly, and the center is expected to open this summer.
“This model gives us more flexibility,” Brenner said.
AllCare Medical Center, a tenant of the Longboat Key Center for Healthy Living, closed its office at the Centre Shops in February 2018 after nearly two years, citing financial reasons. It still operates a clinic in Lakewood Ranch.
Fitness Quest and The Center for Brain Health, also tenants of the Longboat Key Center for Healthy Living, renewed their lease after two years and remain in business.
The Longboat Key Center for Healthy Living has been searching for a replacement for the failed practice ever since.
The connection between Stratum and the Paradise Center picked up speed in the fall when Brenner and got together through Nicci Kobritz, the founder of the The Center for Brain Health.
Through Kobritz, Brenner and Jonathan Fleece, Stratum’s chief executive officer, began talking about partnering on a medical-community center to serve Longboat’s population and satisfy residents' desire to avoid seasonal traffic while traveling to mainland medical appointments.
They found they were a good match.
“It’s all about the continuity of care,” Fleece said. The new center will focus on coordinated routine care and will not function as an emergency room or urgent care facility, he said. AllCare offered primary and urgent care, women’s health, behavioral health and on-site lab and imaging services.
“Having doctors, social support and a real community center all in one building on Longboat Key is ideal,” Brenner said in a statement.
Documents from Sarasota County show SCATA Real Estate LLC, the real estate arm of Stratum, closed on the 30-year-old, 11,346-square-foot building, which includes 32 parking spaces, on Feb. 8 for $1.75 million. Northern Trust closed its Longboat branch in December 2012 when it consolidated its operations at its Sarasota location.
“The building is in terrific shape,” Brenner said.
While plans detailing the kinds of doctors who will work out of the center are still being discussed, town leaders and residents said they were excited the hub of specialized care and other services was coming to the island.
“I believe the citizens of Longboat will benefit greatly from this facility,” Commissioner Jim Brown said.
Commissioner Ken Schneier said providing a broad spectrum of services for residents and visitors is part of the town's long-term vision, but the medical component of that has been challenging. Still, he said he was happy to see the plan come together.
"A new medical center in the town's core with physicians dedicated to building a reliable, comprehensive practice here would be wonderful,” he said.
Longboat resident Barbara Moskow said there has been pent-up demand for additional medical services on the island, largely based on traffic and travel times.
“People here like to stay here,” she said.
The additional space will give the Paradise Center, which served just shy of 5,000 people through 345 programs last year, room to offer more programs.
The center's move to Temple Beth Israel was expected to be temporary while the search continued for a permanent home -- but eyes were focused on the Northern Trust building for in April and said at the time the move was temporary. Its previous location was the second floor of the Longboat Island Chapel. Besides Tidwell, Stratum is the parent company of Approved Home Health, Connexis Medical Services, Avidity Home Health and Treasures Thrift Shop.
A news conference announcing the partnership and medical center is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at the building.