On the Pulse: Improvement project underway at local facility, new physicians, new robotic-assisted surgeries, and more

Work has begun on a $1.3 million facelift at Lake Wales Medical Center (LWMC).  The project at 410 S. 11th Street, at the corner of State Road 60 and 11th Street, includes repainting, weatherproofing, new landscaping, repaving visitor and parking areas, new lighting in parking areas, and signage.

“We have a long history of being good community partners, and this project is another example of that,” says LWMC Chief Executive Officer Andrew Howard.  “The city and the Chamber have a renewed focus on beautification efforts in the city, and as one of the largest employers in Lake Wales, we are excited to be making this investment in improvements to our property.”  Howard adds that the upgrade “will go a long way to making this very visible property in the city look fantastic.”

Following its commitment to use local contractors whenever possible, LWMC officials chose local contractors Rick Wilson Painting, Endres Lawn and Landscaping, and subcontractor Wirt’s Point Nursery to perform the work.

The project, being completed in stages, is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.  “We are taking care to minimize the inconvenience and disruption to our patients and visitors during this time,” Howard says.

In other area medical news:


University of South Florida (USF), based in Tampa, has transferred 1.4 acres of land to All Children’s Hospital John Hopkins Medicine in St. Petersburg for a research, education and training facility for pediatric care.  The move symbolizes the long-term, shared commitment to continuing the training of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine medical students.

The transferred land is adjacent to the existing Children’s Research Institute, located at 601 Fourth Street South, and the All Children’s Hospital Outpatient Care Center.


Two new board-certified physicians have joined the staff at Bond Clinic: Dr. Cecilia Arango, family medicine; and Dr. Jose Prieto, internal medicine.


Community partners brought together by Polk Vision, a citizens’ coalition working together to address community concerns, are conducting a health assessment in Polk County.  They are looking for opinions from a broad cross-section of people 18 years and older who live or work in the county.

The results of the survey will be used to prioritize public health issues, identify resources to address them, and take action.  If you wish to help, you can find the survey online at http://www.polkhealth2014.com.  Surveys should be completed by August 28.Clark and Daughtrey Medical Group, a division of Lakeland Regional Health Systems (LRHS), is having an open house from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. August 28 atits clinic at 430 E. Central Avenue, Winter Haven.  Interested persons are invited to meet clinic physicians.


Effective August 14, Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida welcomed a new board-certified physician to their medical doctor staff.  Dr. Aly Reza Sheraly, a glaucoma specialist as well as cataract and laser surgeon, completed his glaucoma fellowship and ophthalmology residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.  He is fellowship-trained in the newest minimally invasive glaucoma procedures for mild to moderate glaucoma.  Dr. Sheraly began seeing patients at the clinic’s Winter Haven, Sebring, and Haines City locations on August 18.


Dr. Mack Reavis, president of Lakeland Regional Medical Center (LRMC) and chief medical officer of Lakeland Regional Health System (LRHS), has been chosen for Becker’s Hospital Review’s “500+ People to Know in Healthcare.”  The list recognizes individuals throughout the United States dedicated to improving healthcare.  Dr. Reavis has more than 30 years’ experience as a physician at LRMC.  To see the list, go to http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/lists/500-people-to-know-in-healthcare.html

Dr. Shelileah Newman, a radiation oncologist, has joined Lakeland Regional Cancer Center.  Her specialties include general adult radiation oncology with a special interest in prostate, breast, lung cancer and radiosurgery.

Two human resources leaders have joined the LRHS staff: Michael Paruta is serving as associate vice president for Talent Delivery Services and Robert Walters is serving as associate vice president for Talent System Operations and Rewards.  “These two proven leaders will play key roles in creatively enabling us to provide our people with the very best in talent delivery services, system operations and rewards,” says Elaine C. Thompson, LRHS president and chief executive officer.  Paruta is in charge ofLRHS recruitment, coaching, engagement, performance, workforce planning, and volunteer services.  Walters oversees compensation and benefits, system operations, and talent analytics.  He also has direct responsibility for outpatient physician and mid-level talent operations needs.


Dr. Jong Park, a board-certified radiologist, has joined the medical staff at Radiology and Imaging Specialists (RIS).  He earned his medical degree from State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY.

Also new at RIS is Dr. Mary Griffen, a board-certified radiologist with a medical degree from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  A physician-owned firm, RIS has locations in Lakeland and Plant City and staffs more than 25 board-certified radiologists.


Lakeland-based Watson Clinic has added six new physicians to its staff.  A board-certified radiologist, Dr. Rachel Burkehas joined the imaging specialist team.  She offers comprehensive breast imaging, including screening and diagnostic mammography, breast ultrasound,breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and ultrasound-guided, stereotactic and MRI-guided breast biopsy.

Dr. Allie Metcalfe joined Dr. Burke on the imaging specialist team offering comprehensive breast imaging services. She earned her medical degree from University School of Medicine, Jackson, Mississippi.

Also new to the radiologist staff is Dr. Jason Maloney, who previously worked in private practice in Columbus, Georgia.  He received his medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York.

Dr. Gianhna Gil, a family medicine hospitalist, serves inpatients at LRMC.  She earned her medical degree from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

A critical care intensivist, Dr. Gina Iacovella also provides care to inpatients at LRMC.  Dr. Iacovella specializes in providing treatments related to nephrology, such as acute kidney injury, acid-base disorders, volume management, electrolyte disorders and renal replacement therapy.  She earned her medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston.  A Polk County Medical Association (PCMA) member, she isboard-certified in internal medicine and nephrology and board-eligible in critical care.

Dr. Gabriel Pantol joined the neurologists at Watson’s Main Clinic.  His areas of expertise includethe treatment of migraines, assorted neuromuscular disorders, and multiple sclerosis.  He is trained to provide Botox injections for chronic migraines, cervical dystonia, spasmodic dysphonia, and upper limb spasticity, with needle electromyogram (EMG) guidance.  Dr. Pantol has a medical degree from Universidad Nacional de Cuyo School of Medicine, Mendoza, Argentina.

Dr. Daniel Traviesa,who practices at the main campus,has earned recertification inclinical neurophysiology from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

Wendy Liparota, a certified medical assistant for Dr. Pamela Schwartz in obstetrics-gynecology at the Lakeland Highlands location,received the Program for Employee Excellence and Recognition (PEER) Award for July.  Tracy Heglin from Neurology, a licensed practice nurse (LPN)for Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez at the Main Clinic, claimed the August PEER Award.


Winter Haven Hospital (WHH) is now offering robotic-assisted gallbladder surgery through a small incision in the bellybutton.  The first such surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Thomas, a general surgeon specialist at the Winter Haven-based Bond Clinic.

“Our goal is [to] get patients back to their normal lives as safely and quickly as possible,” Dr. Thomas says.  “With this technique, patients are in and out of the hospital the same day.  Patients generally experience less pain, minimal scarring and a faster return to work and other daily activities.”

In earlier years, gallbladder surgery left a huge, diagonal scar below the ribcage.  In the 1990s, advancement of laparoscopic surgery offered patients the benefits of minimally-invasive surgery, including less scarring and reduced pain.  But today the single site robotic gallbladder removal takes this procedure to a whole new level.

“With the Single-Site da Vinci® Surgery, we only have to make one incision about two centimeters long at the navel.  Through the small opening, we insert a tiny robotic camera and flexible working instruments,” Dr. Thomas elaborates.  “The camera provides a high-definition, three-dimensional look inside the body, allowing me to see details not possible with the naked eye.  The instruments, which I control from a console near the patient, are like miniature versions of my own hands, but with even greater dexterity and steadiness.  The result is a safe, effective operation that often leaves no scar and allows patients to quickly get back to their usual routine.”

WHH also offers robotic-assisted colorectal surgery, general surgery, gynecological surgery, and urological surgery.

A general surgeon and surgical oncologist since 1988, Dr. Thomas treats patients with a variety of surgical conditions including benign and malignant diseases of the breast, intestines, soft tissues and gallbladder, as well as all types of hernias.  He has experience in the use of advanced laparoscopic and robotic techniques to manage these conditions.



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