On the Pulse: Cancer center expansion under way

| Plus: New doctors, patient programs, health fairs, and botox to treat migraines |

LAKELAND REGIONAL HEALTH is expanding and renovating its Cancer Center in response to increased demand for chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The community-based not-for-profit is adding 21,800 square feet and renovating an additional 12,700 square feet. Improvements are slated for completion next January.

“Our chemotherapy patient visits have more than doubled and our treatment volumes for radiation therapy patients have increased by more than 30 percent from 2011 to 2014,” says Dr. Graham Greene, chief academic officer and executive director of Lakeland Regional Health Cancer Center. “This expansion offers a unique experience for our cancer patients and provides our team and community with areas for education and discovery.”

Work began on February 17. Construction also is ongoing at Lakeland Regional Health’s Grassland Campus on Harden Boulevard, where a 60,000-square-foot expansion project is scheduled for completion in April 2016.

Improvements to the Cancer Center include 40 new chemotherapy stations designed to provide patients with lake views and care team visual contact. This represents an increase of 17 chairs.

Other upgrades include pharmacy expansion, state-of-the-art education and meeting space for community outreach and education, new and more convenient parking, facility entry for stretchers, roadway access for ambulance/transport vehicles, and a chapel. “We are growing to strengthen the health of our community,” says Dr. Elaine Thompson, Lakeland Regional Health’s president and chief executive officer. “This special project will help us treasure the patients we are privileged to serve during their times of critical need.”

Through its research, the Cancer Center, which is participating in 38 clinical trials, has helped bring 50 U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved chemotherapy and biologic medications to the marketplace.

At the Grasslands Campus, construction began Jan. 16. “We look forward to providing our patients and families with conveniently located specialty, rehabilitation and primary care at the Grasslands Campus,” says Danielle Drummond, Lakeland Regional Health senior vice president for strategy and growth. The project will expand the facility from 20,000 to 80,000 square feet.

Specialties offered at the Grasslands facility include orthopedics, physical medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pulmonology, and ear, nose and throat services.

doctors_Mar2015Also happening at Lakeland Regional Health, the Advanced Primary Stroke Center has achieved the Target: Stroke Honor Roll—Elite Plus status from the American Stroke Association (ASA). It is the only hospital in the region to receive the designation, which is the highest level offered to hospitals in the Target: Stroke program.

A national initiative of the ASA, Target: Stroke is working to improve care for stroke patients treated with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a protein that helps break down blood clots. The Elite Plus status recognizes quick treatment times. “Speed of treatment is essential for recovery of function after a stroke,” says Dr. Duane Campbell, stroke program director.

In other area medical news:


Dr. Kevin Lee joined the Winter Haven-based Bond Clinic on Monday, March 2. A urologist, Dr. Lee graduated from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, where he did his urology residency.

Jenifer Valadez, an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP), has joined the clinic and is working with Dr. Carlos Gabriel in obstetrics/gynecology at The Better Bladder Center.


Drs. Rakesh Choubey and Vriti Advani are to join the Winter Haven-based Gessler Clinic in July. Dr. Choubey is an interventional cardiologist and Dr. Advani is a general surgeon.

Wendi Jones, a certified family nurse practitioner, joined the staff in March and is working with Drs. Ronald Ford and Garrison Christian, both in family practice.


Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center is holding its annual Health Fair and Teddy Bear Clinic from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 14. Doctors and other health care professionals will give tips to help the whole family stay well. The event includes screenings. Children are invited to bring their favorite teddy bears for a special checkup. There also will be free teddy bears, while supplies last. The hospital is located at 40100 U.S. 27 in Davenport.


Lake Wales Medical Center (LWMC) held its Healthy Woman program, Color my World Healthy, on February 19. The program featured Dr. Carolyn Pass, who spoke about ways to be heart healthy. The event included interactive learning centers on hands-on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), heart-healthy diet, heart attack and stroke warning signs, exercise, and heart-healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Dr. Sergio Martinez, an orthopedic surgeon, held an open house and ribbon cutting at his practice February 26. His office is located at 1255 State Road 60 East, Lake Wales. He joined the LWMC active staff in the summer of 2014. He offers joint replacement, fracture care, shoulder repairs, and rotator cuff treatments. He also treats foot and ankle problems, arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and sports injuries.


The Watson Clinic Foundation is hosting a Colon Cancer Awareness Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 6, in the Peggy Brown Building at 215 S. Lake Ave., Lakeland. The event will teach men and women more about colon cancer, recommended screenings, genetics, risk factors for the disease, new treatment options, and minimally invasive surgery.

The free event is open to the public. It features experts from the Lakeland-based Watson Clinic’s gastroenterology, general surgery, and medical oncology departments. It also features a question-and-answer session. Guests must reserve a place by calling (863) 802-6220 or by visiting www.WatsonClinic.com/Events.

The foundation held an ovarian cancer “Fighter Reception” in late January for current ovarian cancer patients and those who have won the battle. The group is open to those in the community who have or have had ovarian cancer, their caregivers and family. To learn more, call (863) 802-6220.

D.J. Nelson has joined Watson Clinic’s Women Center as a certified ARNP under Dr. Faeza Kazmier, a plastic surgeon and a Polk County Medical Association member. Her areas of expertise include rejuvenation with Botox and Dysport, and providing fillers such as Voluma, Juvaderm, Restylane Silk, and Belotero. She is working closely with Dr. Kazmier’s plastic surgery patients. Nelson holds a Master of Science degree in nursing from Lakeland-based Florida Southern College.

Dr. Gabriel Pantol, a board-certified neurologist and a Polk County Medical Association member, is now using the popular cosmetic injectable, Botox, to treat chronic migraines. Botox is used to relieve common symptoms, including light sensitivity and nausea, in patients who have more than 15 migraines a month and who do not find relief with prescription medications.

Watson Clinic’s Program for Employee Excellence and Recognition (PEER) Award was given to Dana McCormick in January and Clarene Benton in February. McCormick is a radiology technologist at Watson Clinic South in Lakeland; Benton is a licensed practical nurse in Rheumatology.



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