Doctors Hospital – 50 Years of Caring

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As Doctors Hospital of Sarasota celebrates 50 years of serving the community this month, it seems likely the local physicians who founded the hospital could never have foreseen the changes that have occurred with today’s medical advancements. Robot-assisted surgeries, immunotherapy, gene editing and so many more of today’s advancements were pure science fiction then. It also seems likely that the hospital’s founders would be pleased to know that their vision of patient-focused care has remained a hallmark of the hospital today.

“The hospital was started by local physicians who wanted more control and choice about how they treated patients,” said Doctors Hospital CEO Bob Meade. “It started very modestly.” The hospital opened on February 1, 1967, at Bahia Vista Street and Tuttle Avenue. News articles at the time enumerated the modern advantages it offered patients medically and also made much of luxurious appointments like wall-to-wall carpeting, color televisions with remote controls in each room, and menu selections at every meal for those not on a special diet.

A key milestone was Doctors Hospital’s (941.342.1100/ doctorsofsarasota.com) move to its present location on a 10-acre campus at Bee Ridge and Cattlemen roads in 1995, where it has continued to build a reputation for award-winning, patient-centered care. The hospital also has invested significantly over the years to serve a growing population and to allow residents to receive leading-edge medical care locally. About six years ago, Doctors Hospital began performing life-saving interventions for heart attack patients, including stenting and balloon angioplasty.

Time is precious in these situations, and adding these capabilities has allowed many patients to be treated more quickly for better outcomes. The hospital is Joint Commission-certified in seven disease-specific areas including COPD, orthopedics (including hip, knee and spine), advanced diabetes, advanced heart failure, and advanced primary stroke. It also has earned an A in the past four ratings of the LeapFrog Hospital Safety Grade.

A recent $17 million renovation includes a significant makeover of the hospital’s Orthopedic and Spine Institute, an area in which the hospital has gained a considerable reputation. Becker’s Hospital Review has named it a Top Hospital with Great Orthopedic and Spine Programs. The renovated orthopedic unit includes 46 private patient rooms and suites with the feel of an upscale hotel. Orthopedic patients can stay for several days, so the unit is designed with amenities to help keep them engaged while recuperating. The expansion also included doubling the emergency department and the addition of two large operating rooms to accommodate the growing robotics program.

Doctors Hospital also is known for its robotics program and the recent addition of an FDA-approved Mazor Robotics Renaissance™ robot for minimally invasive spinal surgery has kept it among the nation’s leading hospitals with this technology. The hospital also has added hyperbaric treatment to its robust wound care program and last year purchased the five-story medical office building on its campus. “We also just broke ground on a free-standing emergency department on State Road 70 near Interstate 75,” Meade said. “This is a true 24-hour ER, not an urgent care facility. With all the growth along the I-75 corridor, we want to be sure high quality care is quickly accessible and expect to serve about 12,000 patients in the first year.”

Plans also are in place to add beds and expand outpatient programs at Serenity Place, which is the hospital’s voluntary acute care behavioral health facility for adults 50 and older. The facility aids those whose daily lives are impacted by depression or anxiety and those who may need help managing other psychiatric disorders.

What all of this comes down to, though, is the experience people have when they come to Doctors Hospital. That happened recently for Janice Zarro, former Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Center of Sarasota County. After a sudden fall that “changed life in an instant,” Zarro chose to be transported to Doctors Hospital ER for treatment. “In all my life, I’d never been in a hospital as a patient, and the competency that started in the emergency room made it a lot easier,” she said. Within an hour, she learned that her right hip was fractured and would need replacement and that her wrist was broken. Surgery was scheduled for the next day. “Everyone was very responsive, attentive and communicative,” Zarro said. “They convey the sense that you are in good hands. It’s very comforting, particularly for someone who has never been in that situation.”

Zarro’s experience demonstrates the hospital’s commitment to its mission to provide personal care for each patient. “It really starts with our employees, and our leadership feels it is important to create a good working environment,” Meade said. That clearly has been accomplished since Modern Healthcare has named the hospital among the Best Places to Work since 2009. “Our goal is to keep improving quality even more in the future,” he added, “and not lose sight of the personal care we provide as we grow along with the community and offer new services that are appropriate for that growth.”

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