As 2021 draws to a close, it seems only appropriate to reflect on the challenging year we have all had! Marked most obviously by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, this year the Boca Grande Health Clinic has seen growth, unparalleled community outreach, and a variety of transitions in house.
The pandemic first experienced in 2020 intensified in 2021, bringing with it a proverbial hurricane of challenges.
- The Clinic kept abreast of the ever-changing medical and scientific landscape as modes of diagnosis, treatment and vaccines became available and evolved.
- We took care of more patients than ever before this year, vaccinating more than 4,000 patients this year, testing in excess of 2,200 patients and administering more than 500 flu shots. This required extraordinary teamwork!
- And the Clinic worked harder than ever to keep the community educated about COVID-19 and other health matters through more than 40 articles for the Boca Beacon.
- The “Boca Grande Pledge” initiated near the end of 2019 and our ongoing partnership with local businesses further demonstrated a creative and constructive effort on the part of the Clinic to safeguard our community by keeping shops and restaurants both open and safe.
I am extremely proud of our entire team for the ways in which they have handled COVID-19 to date, and I am confident that we will meet its ongoing challenges with equal success!
The last 18 months that I’ve had the honor of serving as CEO have been among the most rewarding times in my executive career. Success metrics, chief among them, patient satisfaction, continue to trend up, thanks in large part to the work of our dedicated doctors, nurses, and staff.
The growth of the Clinic and complexity of healthcare over the past several years – and especially last winter – warranted the hiring this year of a nationally recognized healthcare consulting team, Kaufman Hall. This team has left no stone unturned as it has examined the Clinic from stem to stern, looking at the mission, the facilities, the staff, the patients – studying your rates of satisfaction, defining ongoing needs, anticipating new ones – in this everchanging and fast paced world of medicine.
As part of this exhaustive review, the Clinic is entering a new phase of commitment, reinforcing our mission and values, and setting a vision for a very bright future.
- A five-year strategic plan to enhance our facilities and elevate our services will be unveiled in the coming months and you can look forward to improved patient care and referral services as we cement formal partnerships both on and off the Island. This includes formalizing a partnership with Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and its new state-of-the-art hospital in Venice, which just recently opened. A strategic affiliation will help us with services we don’t offer on-island and will provide a formalized referral path.
- The upgrade of our electronic medical record system this summer provides our doctors and nurses with better data, and better data leads to better care decisions.
- We’ve also started to implement physician-led team-based care, a model that will streamline and personalize care, improve clinical quality, and facilitate both patient and provider satisfaction. Many of our patients have very complex medical needs that require a lot of time. With team-based care, each patient will have a dedicated team involved in his or her care – a team who knows and understands your healthcare needs and can spend more time with you to plan for and manage your health. This model is also the avenue to improved communication and collaboration with other providers when we refer a patient for more specialized care. Already falling into place, this system fosters patient relationships and communications while fueling excellent medical care.
Also during the year we experienced some staff transitions, which is normal for any changing and growing clinic. While curiosity is part of human nature, I’m a firm believer that it’s best to respect people’s privacy and refrain from sharing details related to personnel matters.
- We welcomed a new Registered Nurse in April, Natalie Cole. Natalie spent the past 13 years working in women’s health. She’s a great addition to our provider team and would be happy to schedule visits with any patients interested in seeing a female provider.
- This year we started an extensive national recruiting effort for a new physician (or two): we sought a doctor with exceptional qualifications; finding an excellent female physician was a high priority. However, by far the best candidate – with impeccable credentials and experience – is Bret Kueber, M.D. Dr. Kueber is a Case Western board-certified family medicine physician who trained at the Cleveland Clinic and has been in practice for 16 years, with a large geriatric patient base. We are delighted to have found him and will welcome him to the Clinic this winter part-time and then full-time beginning March.
- We continue to recruit for another full-time doctor to join our team, again placing an emphasis on a female physician to round-out our staff if possible, but always looking for the very best and most qualified candidate.
- Because we anticipate a busy season, we executed an agreement for Sarasota Memorial Hospital to provide us with temporary full-time professional staff on Island. Beginning January 3, Dr. Lucinda Fingado will be available Monday through Friday to see patients for same-day appointments. She is an emergency medicine physician, board-certified in internal medicine and receives top marks from her patients.
In closing, it certainly has been a busy year, and a year of reflection and growth. Next year will be an even bigger year for the Clinic as we mark our 75th year of providing care on the Island. We are planning many fun and exciting ways to celebrate our history, while we move the Clinic into the next chapter of exceptional care and service. Our history and recent events have strengthened our resolve and provide the confidence that, together, we will stand the test of time.
We will only continue to get better and better. Thank you all for allowing us to care for you, and please rest assured that we will continue to do our very best by you – our beloved Island community.
Boca Grande Health Clinic CEO
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