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Heart care excellence: A vision for HealthPark

By Staff | Mar 25, 2015

To the editor:

Every time I hear an ambulance racing down Periwinkle, sirens sounding, I wonder about the person inside. With heart disease the number one cause of death of both men and women in the US and given the aging population of our island, many of these might need immediate interventions for cardiac problems. Some of them may be friends. Next time pray not it could be me.

Lee Memorial Health System is the sole provider of cardiothoracic (CT) surgery in Lee County and its CT surgery division is one of the busiest in Florida. It has been a center of excellence for minimally invasive heart surgery and has comprehensive follow-up programs. But Drs. Paul DiGiorgi and Brian Hummel think it could do better, and have a vision for a new cardiothoracic surgery center that will take the next leap forward in optimizing patient care.

On March 13, Darryl Pottorf and Mark Pace of Captiva hosted a gathering at the Robert Rauschenberg house, brought together by their common interest in cardiac care. It included doctors and staff from Lee Memorial, former cardiac patients, philanthropists and community leaders. The goal was to start spreading a vision of the next level of cardiac care, including innovations in techniques and services that improve patient care. This includes increased focus on preoperative measures (“rehabilitation,” not just rehabilitation), and on the integration of multiple disciplines to evaluate and minimize risk. Kat Epple, a talented flautist and longtime friend of Bob Rauschenberg and the hosts, played wonderful flute music.

The expanded CT Division, to be called the Center of Innovation, will be located in a 10,000+ square foot space at HealthPark and is intended to be the major center for advanced cardiac care in southwest Florida. To achieve the vision, advocates for the center understand that financing must come from non-government sources such as research grants and philanthropy from private investors, corporations and foundations.

Our community has stepped up to challenges like this in the past. Everyone is invited to learn what part they might play in translating this vision to reality. Potential roles include philanthropic gifts and referring patents, clinicians and others interested in improving healthcare and surgical services.

For more information please contact Dr. Paul DiGiorgi, or Dr. Brian Hummel at (239)343-6341.

Sandy Teger

Sanibel Island