Author Archive

Seeing Past the Obstacles

The latest technology, combined with personable care, delivers optimal results.

Shirley Randall got her first pair of eyeglasses in the third grade. It’s a memory she distinctly recalls.Husband and wife, Shirley and Vance Randall, had cataracts removed at Premier Eye Clinic.

“When you are a little girl getting your first pair of glasses, it’s something you never forget,” Shirley shares. “It was an awkward experience, even that young. I was very self-conscious about it. Glasses become a part of our identity when you wear them all day, every day, and I just hated it.

“When contact lenses became available, I switched to those and got used to wearing them. When I was in my forties, I had LASIK surgery so I could get away from wearing glasses and contacts altogether. That had always been my goal.”

But a rare post-operative infection caused Shirley months of pain, doctor visits and heartache. In the end, she wasn’t able to give up the glasses for good.

“LASIK surgery never really worked for me,” Shirley says. “The infection eventually cleared, but I still wore glasses. I did not achieve my goal, which was to get out of wearing them.”

Snowbirds from Georgia, Shirley and her husband, Vance, spend six months a year in Port Orange. A few months ago, Shirley broke her glasses and needed a new pair. That’s when she consulted with Q. Jocelyn Ge, MD, at Premier Eye Clinic.

“My vision was getting worse, especially at night,” Shirley adds. “When I was trying to read fine print, I couldn’t see the words with the glasses on. I immediately thought I just needed stronger eyeglasses and that would fix everything.”

About ten years ago, Shirley was advised that cataracts were present in both of her eyes. It never occurred to her that those cataracts had worsened.

Shirley was surprised when Dr. Ge advised her that her failing vision was a result of those cataracts getting larger.

“Dr. Ge told me I didn’t need stronger eyeglasses; I needed to have the cataracts removed.”

Because of a high level of astigmatism Shirley had in both eyes due to the scarring she experienced from LASIK, Dr. Ge utilized the femtosecond laser to remove Shirley’s cataracts and repair the astigmatism. She then placed toric lenses in both of Shirley’s eyes.

“Her right eye is used for distance, and the left eye is for close-up vision,” Dr. Ge explains. “She has clear 20/20 vision now without glasses or contacts. It was touch and go with Shirley. Because of the mishap she experienced with the LASIK surgery in the past, the challenge increased with her cataract surgery. But thanks to new technology and the surgical techniques available today, we were able to accurately measure out her eyes, including the astigmatism, and treat them with the toric lens implant and femtosecond laser. In the end, everything turned out perfectly for her. She’s very happy with her results.”

Visual Harmony

A miniature golf professional for 50 years, Vance has represented the United States in various tournaments played in 29 different countries. He’s a three-time national champion and one-time world champion. Vance is in the Miniature Golf Hall of Fame and was recently nominated for entry into the Professional Miniature Golf Hall of Fame.

“It’s something I always enjoyed playing for fun,” the retired school teacher and golf coach shares. “I love playing regular golf, too. I try playing that at least three times a week now that I am retired.”

Several years ago, Vance says, he started wearing eyeglasses as his vision began to deteriorate.

“I was told I had small cataracts about a decade ago,” Vance relates. “A few years ago, I did start wearing glasses, and that helped. But, they became cumbersome in recent years because of my golf game. It’s difficult to always be looking down at the ball with glasses on.”

When his vision got to the point where Vance was having a hard time seeing the ball even with those glasses on, he thought that his cataracts may have become worse.

“As soon as Shirley had her cataract surgery, I went to see Dr. Ge about my cataracts,” Vance shares. “Sure enough, she said the one in my left eye was ready to be removed.”

Vance also has a condition called Bell’s palsy, which causes weakness, or sometimes paralysis, on one side of the face. As a result of the Bell’s palsy, Vance had trouble blinking and closing his left eye. Not blinking enough, Dr. Ge describes, caused him to develop dry eye.

“Every time we blink, we moisten the surface of the eye, but in Vance’s case, he was unable to blink as often, so dry eye developed,” Dr. Ge describes. “I treated him aggressively for dry eye prior to the cataract surgery in order to repair the eye’s surface, and also to have an accurate measurement.

“When he was ready for the cataract surgery, I recommended a toric lens for Vance, just as I did with Shirley, to treat his astigmatism. It worked out great for him.”

Now, Vance sees very well for distance and close-up without the need of glasses.

“I can see on the computer, and I can read small print with no issues,” he shares. “And most important, I can see the golf ball.”

Husband and wife, Shirley and Vance Randall, had cataracts removed at Premier Eye Clinic.

Shirley and Vance say Dr. Ge gave both of them their “quality” of vision back.

All in the Family

Dr. Ge and her staff pride themselves on providing dependable and reliable care to generations of patients.

“Quality patient care,” explains Dr. Ge, “is about more than just skill and knowledge. It is about forming relationships, understanding patient needs and providing care to family members: husbands, wives, parents, sons and daughters.” Dr. Ge and her team understand the importance of getting to know their patients on a personal level. They provide a family-friendly environment at Premier Eye Clinic.

“We put our patients first,” Dr. Ge continues. “People feel comfortable and safe coming here. That is our goal and that is why we have so many family members who come to see us. When we do good work for a husband or a wife, they send other members of the family to us. It’s a testament to our practice.”

Dr. Ge adds that understanding the needs of the individual also enables her to customize the treatment plan for her patient. Understanding a patient’s lifestyle and vision needs helps to individualize the treatment plan and select the best option available.

“Dr. Ge is personable, professional and knowledgeable,” Vance says. “I’ve seen plenty of doctors in my day, and I’ve never met one quite like her. She is calm and very reassuring. I am very pleased with my results.”

Shirley agrees, saying she can now work in her garden and can see the beautiful plants and flowers she is nurturing.

“Colors are so much more vivid now,” Shirley attests. “The sky is really blue. It’s those little things we take for granted, like seeing colors. I’m so glad I had the surgery, and I trust Dr. Ge completely. I highly recommend her!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photos by Nerissa Johnson.

Chairside Compassion

Fear is removed and confidence restored with this Boca Raton dentist.

A history of dental anxiety resulted in an onset of oral health issues for Elizabeth Freeman.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Elizabeth is proud of her smile thanks to Dr. Fatmi.

A native of New York, Elizabeth relocated to Delray Beach about four years ago. For several years prior to her move to the Sunshine State, Elizabeth avoided the dental chair, but a Saturday afternoon emergency forced her to seek help.
“I had a dentist in New York, but I wasn’t seeing them like I should have been, as I had a fear of dentists from a young age,” she explains. “After the move here, I came down with a really bad toothache one day. Of course, this happened on a Saturday, and very few dentists are open, or even answer their phones. I looked up some dentists online in my area and came across Dr. Fatmi, and they had an emergency number listed. I called and he got me right in. I was so thankful.”
Naved Fatmi, DMD, at Regency Court Dentistry, came up with a long-term treatment plan after seeing Elizabeth on that Saturday afternoon.
“She came in with an abscess and a very bad infection,” Dr. Fatmi states. “I treated her for that and saved the tooth. She started coming in sporadically to fix a tooth here and there. One day, I told her we needed to come up with a long-term treatment plan to fix her mouth or else we were just putting BAND-AIDS® on everything. I wanted to save her teeth and create a beautiful smile for her. She agreed that a treatment plan was a good idea.”
After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Fatmi created a six-month treatment plan that included implants and crowns.
“We placed crowns on the front four teeth up top, as well as implants in the upper back with crowns over those implants,”
Dr. Fatmi explains. “I pretty much restored her upper jaw. On the bottom, we have crowned two of her teeth so far.
“Implant-supported crowns are excellent for replacing individual teeth, which was the case with Elizabeth. When a tooth is missing, the best way to restore that missing tooth is with a dental implant with a crown overlay.
“In addition to implants and crowns, I also got her mouth cleaned up and her gums healthy,” Dr. Fatmi continues. “Elizabeth was in pretty bad shape orally when I first saw her, and I explained to her that her mouth needed to be overall healthy for the treatment plan to be effective.”
Elizabeth says she has never met a dentist like Dr. Fatmi.
“He is kind, caring and professional and never pushes a thing on you that is not necessary,” she says. “The fact that he is open for emergencies on weekends is amazing. He is the one who called me back when I called the emergency number. What other dentist does that? His staff is amazing. I used to have so much anxiety and avoided dentists, but not with him. I look forward to going now.”

Beyond Cleanings

Dr. Fatmi and his staff work hard to ensure that the experience in the office is pleasant and relaxing. “We treat people comprehensively, from beginning to end,” he assures.
Regency Court Dentistry provides that comprehensive care in a comfortable, non-judgmental, relaxed environment. They specialize in denture repairs, extractions, root canals and crown repair.
Additional services available at Regency Court Dentistry include Invisalign®, veneers, inlays and onlays, whitening, and emergency services.
Many patients are pleased to discover that they can also get their old silver fillings replaced with a newer material made from a resin or porcelain composite, a significant improvement and often a prelude to a whitening treatment.
“As Elizabeth quickly learned, we also see patients on the weekends and after hours,” notes Dr. Fatmi. “We pride ourselves on our emergency services. If someone is in pain and calls the office and presses option two, it goes directly to my cellphone. This is how Elizabeth was able to reach me so quickly that day. When snowbirds are visiting South Florida – and we do have a lot of snowbirds – many of these people are in town on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and we’re able to see patients on the weekends, take care of their issues and get them back to their general dentists up north.”
In addition to offering complete dental services, Regency Court Dentistry is a true citizen of the Boca Raton area.
Dr. Fatmi and his staff participate in many local events and outreach programs such as Head Start dental exams conducted at Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, and The Arc of The Glades program on behalf of the Dental Home Initiative for people with developmental disabilities.
Quote by Elizabeth Freeman regarding the service she received from Regency Court Dentistry.“We are proud of the results we provide our patients, and especially pleased to play an active role in our community,” concludes Dr. Fatmi. “Going to the dentist should not be a scary or traumatic event, and we invite even those who are nervous about needed dental work to come in and let us help them.”

Back to the Big Apple

Having only lived here in Florida a few years, Elizabeth says she is relocating back to New York for family reasons.
Despite the distance, she says she plans to continue to entrust her dental care to Dr. Fatmi.
“I have lots of friends here, so I will plan my visits around dental appointments,” Elizabeth says. “He’s terrific and very knowledgeable, and I don’t want to go through finding another dentist. I feel like I finally found one I can trust and where I am not just a number or a face in the crowd. They know me by name, they greet me when I walk in and they know what I like and what bothers me. They know how to ease my fears and keep me relaxed. They are an unbelievable group of professionals.
“I can chew food now and not be in pain, and I can smile like I never have before! He really did give me back not just my smile, but also my confidence, and that is something that really touches me. He is not just a dentist; he is a human being who cares. He is honest and never pushy.
“He does a lot of volunteer work in the local community, and that says a lot about him as well. It shows the kind of person he is. I highly recommend Dr. Fatmi. He treats everyone he meets with care and compassion. You won’t be disappointed!”

Debunking The Myths of PTSD

May 15th, 2017

Photo from istockphoto.comPost Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can often be accompanied by a high level of misunderstanding of the condition. In fact, several myths appear to contribute to the stigma that surrounds those with PTSD.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder. It develops in response to traumatic or life-threatening experiences such as active duty combat, sexual assault, car accidents, natural disasters and even bullying in school or the workplace.

Emotional symptoms include anxiety, anger, depression, irritability and sadness. Physical symptoms of PTSD can include increased fatigue, headaches, trouble digesting food and high or low blood pressure. The risks for developing PTSD vary depending upon the trauma experienced.

The latest research shows that PTSD actually causes a part of the brain called the amygdala to shrink. The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes emotions and fear. Researchers believe that when the amygdala is smaller, it makes it more difficult for people to process their anxiety resulting from trauma.

I write this post with the hope of educating others on how to recognize the symptoms, how to help someone who has it and most importantly to create an understanding that PTSD does not define the person.

The myths surrounding PTSD create further misunderstanding of the disorder and those who suffer from it. Some of those myths include:

  1. PTSD is a sign of mental weakness: Developing PTSD is not a sign of weakness, be it mental weakness or weakness of character. It is an understandable human response to uncommon experiences. There are several factors that may influence whether an individual will develop PTSD, including: severity of the trauma and type of trauma.
  2. You only get PTSD immediately after an experience: In order for these stress reactions to merit a diagnosis of PTSD, the symptoms must last at least a month. Within the first month, these stress reactions are considered “acute stress,” which is very similar to PTSD, but traditionally has a slightly greater emphasis on dissociative symptoms (e.g., altered sense of reality, inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event), and can be diagnosed within the first month of the trauma. Only if the symptoms last longer than a month, can the diagnosis of PTSD be considered.
  3. People with PTSD are crazy: PTSD is not characterized by psychosis or violence. Rather, symptoms of PTSD surround coping with the memory and implications of a traumatic experience. “Crazy” is a damaging stigma.
  4. People with PTSD cannot function normally: People can have PTSD and still effectively do their job, even a military job. It is a manageable and treatable diagnosis, and being diagnosed with PTSD does not mean one’s career is over.
  5. People with PTSD should just “get over it”: PTSD symptoms do not just magically go away after a certain period of time has passed. While many people are able to find ways of coping on their own, many others benefit from working with a professional for guidance.
  6. Veterans with PTSD are not “wounded”: The fact is, veterans went to war and made sacrifices for this country. It may help reduce stigma to think of psychological injuries as similar to physical injuries — inevitable, collateral damage of war that is not indicative of personal weakness.
  7. Nothing can be done to help PTSD sufferers: There are several different types of treatments, developed for different types of people, which have all been found to be effective, including medications and therapy. New interventions continue to be developed.

Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD as men. Treatment for PTSD can include SSRI medication (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), also known as antidepressants, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and stress therapy.

Please speak with your medical professional if you or someone you love is experiencing the symptoms of PTSD and may need help coping. There are also resources available to help with PTSD.


Just Like Family

Every patient is treated with individualized care and compassion.

For 20 years, John and Patricia Halvorson have entrusted their oral health to the husband-and-wife practice of Debra A. Higham, DMD, and Andrew A. Sauchelli, DMD.

Photo courtesy of Debra A. Higham, DMD, and Andrew A. Sauchelli, DMD.

John and Patricia are loyal patients of Dr. Sauchelli.

The Halvorsons say the personable, honest and professional care they receive is what has kept them coming back for two decades. “We wouldn’t go anywhere else,” Patricia says with confidence. “We found them all those years ago and have been pleased ever since.
“The office is comfortable and inviting, and the staff is fantastic,” Patricia adds. “John and I feel confident in the care we receive and never feel like a number, ever. We have had a lot of work done over the years, and it has been top-notch.”
Drs. Higham and Sauchelli say the cornerstone of their practice has been fundamental since they opened in 1986: They care about their patients and strive to provide the best care possible to each of them.
“We’re a relationship-based practice. We listen to what our patients needs are and look out for what’s most important to them,” explains Dr. Sauchelli. “We send thank you notes and cards for many occasions to our family of patients. Every day, we receive cards from patients announcing a wedding or a new baby. It’s all about relationships with people and remembering them. We feel this is how we have been successful for so many years and how we have not only attracted new patients, but also retained the ones we do have, like the Halvorsons.”

Emergency Calls Answered

Patricia recalls a dental emergency years ago that left her seeking immediate care. By this time, she and John were already established patients of Drs. Higham and Sauchelli. So, in her time of need, Patricia knew what to do without hesitation.
“I broke a tooth on a Sunday morning, and I was scheduled to have knee surgery Monday,” she recalls. “I called
Dr. Sauchelli’s emergency number on Sunday afternoon, and he had me in the dental chair by eight o’ clock Monday morning. They repaired the tooth, and I was in the hospital waiting for knee surgery that same afternoon.
“I was amazed at their ability to squeeze me in at a very crucial time. I am very thankful that Dr. Sauchelli was willing to do that for me. I really needed to have that tooth fixed right away under the circumstances, and they were nothing but accommodating.”
Dr. Sauchelli says he and Dr. Higham take great pride in the emergency services and advanced dentistry they provide.
“We are available at a phone call’s notice,” he stresses. “In emergency situations, we are always there for a patient, whether they have been coming to see us for many years or if they are new. We treat everyone with the care and concern he or she deserves, just like we did for Patricia. I knew she was in a tight situation, going in for knee surgery that same afternoon. No one wants to deal with an emergency dental issue at the same time they are having another surgery. I wanted to help, and I know I did that by fixing her problem and easing that stress.”

Under One Roof

“We have a comprehensive care practice all under one roof,” explains Dr. Sauchelli. “We do orthodontics, implants and all dentistry in between, from routine crowns to bridges, all here in our office. It’s rare that someone needs to go somewhere else. Dr. Higham and I continue to educate ourselves on the latest procedures and the newest equipment on the market in order to best serve our patients.”
John and Patricia say they have had extensive work done at the hands of both capable dentists.
“I’ve had root canals, crowns, a few implants,” John shares.
“Over the years, I have had crowns, root canals and implants also,” states Patricia. “We love having everything done in one office. It’s convenient, and it makes us feel even more confident in them than we already do because they constantly learn new things and are very up-to-date.”
For example, Dr. Higham and Dr. Sauchelli offer the technological advancement of the CEREC® Omnicam, which allows them to create crowns in one day.
The material used to create CEREC crowns is the closest thing in dentistry to regular enamel. The natural-looking, affordable material is anti-abrasive and plaque resistant, making the crowns reliable and longer lasting.
With the CEREC 3-D, Drs. Higham and Sauchelli can see every integral part of the tooth in three dimensions. CEREC Omnicam eliminates many of the steps involved in making crowns, including wearing a temporary crown, limiting the time needed to a single appointment for the patient.
“Only eleven percent of dentists in the whole world have this machine,” Dr. Sauchelli informs.
“In addition, we also have what is called a cone beam or a CAT scan machine. This technology also uses x-ray beams to penetrate soft tissue, but unlike its predecessor, it produces 3-D imaging, with significantly less radiation and more cost effectiveness than a medical scan.
“This 3-D technology enables us to make better diagnoses and more accurate treatment planning for everything from periodontal disease to oral pathology to dental implants.”

Above the Rest

Dr. Sauchelli says he and Dr. Higham stress to patients the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth.
“It’s important for overall health to take care of your teeth,” Dr. Sauchelli emphasizes. “If not, bad oral health can lead to stroke, heart attack and other serious conditions. Most people don’t understand the risks involved in not caring for your teeth. We educate our patients on those risks.”
Drs. Sauchelli and Higham are pleased that the friendly atmosphere they strive to provide keeps patients coming back.
“They are both dedicated professionals,” John advises. “They stay abreast of the latest technologies and techniques. From the day Patricia and I first walked through the doors, they have continually upgraded not only their equipment, but also their level of education and skill.”
“They are very personable and friendly, and their staff is, too,” Patricia adds. “The staff is absolutely wonderful. Going to the dentist feels like I’m visiting people I know. It’s not something I dread doing. I really enjoy going and seeing them!”

A Hidden Gem

A Nurses Touch provides companionship and respect when needed most.

Living with dementia doesn’t mean you have to stop living.

Margaret* receives care and companionship from A Nurses Touch Healthcare.

“We love A Nurses Touch.
They have been a godsend, no doubt about it.” – Joyce

That’s exactly how Margaret’s* family feels. They want to make sure she continues to experience an engaging lifestyle despite the disease that robs her of her memory.

For several years now, Margaret has suffered with the effects of dementia. Unable to live alone due to safety concerns, she resides at a memory care facility in the Vero Beach area.

Margaret’s daily care is something her family is actively involved with, despite them living hundreds of miles away in New Jersey.

“The facility takes good care of her, but because we live out of state, we need eyes and ears that can keep an eye on Margaret and report back to us,” explains Margaret’s daughter-in-law, Joyce*. “We wanted her to have one person close by that she could rely on like a friend. We wanted her to get out in the community more than she was. We need someone to take her out for a coffee or to a nice restaurant or take her to church, which she absolutely loves. Most importantly, we want her to live as she always had. We don’t want the disease or the walls of the memory care facility to hold her back.”

The distance between Margaret and her family living out of state was often challenging, so the family began to search for a company that could provide companionship for Margaret. They eventually found the support they were looking for in the hands of the professionals at
A Nurses Touch Healthcare.

Beyond the Home

A Nurses Touch is a Vero Beach-based nurse registry. It furnishes many levels of care, including RNs, LPNs, certified nursing assistants, home health aides and companions.

“The family was looking to provide more stimulation for Margaret outside of the memory care facility where she lives,” explains Karen Henderson, registered nurse and case manager at A Nurses Touch. “I paired Margaret with Sandra Reid, an independent contractor. They have an amazing bond and a beautiful relationship, and it has been a blessing to the family.”

“This is not a job to me, this is a passion,” describes Sandra. “I take care of Margaret just as I would want one of my own family members taken care of. I provide the best care I could ever want for someone that I loved. I put myself in the shoes of both the family members and the individual.”

Sandra’s interaction with Margaret is especially important as her dementia progresses. Keeping her brain active and her surroundings familiar help Margaret better manage the memory challenges she’s experiencing.

“I take her to the finest restaurants, and she has her glass of wine and she loves it,” Sandra shares. “Margaret was always used to that lifestyle, so I want to continue to provide that for her. I take her shopping and do her makeup and make her feel beautiful. I take her to get her hair done, and I even make sure she goes to church on Sunday because she wants to stay active with her church. That is something that is important to her and makes her feel safe and comfortable.”

Sandra says she takes pictures of every place she takes Margaret and sends them to her family in New Jersey so they can see where she is going and how she is doing.

“We use Skype™ so they can talk to her live, and I send them pictures all day, every day documenting what we do. I do this so that they can be reassured that she is well cared for and they don’t have to worry.”

So Much to Give

A Nurses Touch also provides support for individuals who live independently, yet still require assistance with everyday tasks.

“We offer a wide range of services,” notes Karen. “Independent contractors can assist their patients with the typical activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, cooking; transferring in and out of beds, chairs and wheelchairs; and transportation to doctor appointments.

“When we visit someone’s home for the first time, we are not only assessing the patient’s need for care, but also his or her personality, lifestyle, interests and preferences. This way, we can best match our independent contractors to our client’s likes and dislikes.

“We strive to match clients with independent contractors who best suit their personality,” Karen continues. “We are very vigilant to make sure we provide the best possible care. That care is all provided with the utmost proficiency and compassion. Our clients are our top priority.”

For patients who do have a cognitive decline, like Margaret, the services provided are adjusted to meet their changing needs. While A Nurses Touch aims to offer a full range of services, their ultimate goal is to provide the highest quality of care they can for each individual.

Sandra describes herself as a “hidden gem” and says being a home health aide is something that was part of her calling.

“I know that I am doing what I was called to do,” Sandra says. “I love it. I go above and beyond for my patients. Margaret is a blessing to me. She is a beautiful, smart, funny woman who deserves to be cared for with the utmost respect, and that is what I do for her each time I am with her.”

Joyce says her family is grateful beyond words for Sandra and the personable care she provides for Margaret.

“There are few words to accurately describe how highly we regard Sandra,” Joyce says. “It is reassuring and comforting to know that our mother is being cared for with dignity, respect and compassion. We love A Nurses Touch. They have been a godsend, no doubt about it.”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Stock photos from
*Family names withheld at their requests

Fabulous FibroScan®

A revolutionary, noninvasive device helps manage liver disease.

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver. It results from infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. Hepatitis C can be either acute or chronic.

Hepatitis C patients now have an alternative to liver biopsies, thanks to FibroScan® technology.


People at highest risk are those born between 1945 and 1965. It is thought that about 75 percent of those infected with the hepatitis C virus are within this age range.

“I was trained back in the 1980s, when we did not know a lot about this virus,” informs Stephen P. Nicholas, MD, chief medical officer of the Community AIDS Network. “At that time, we were treating patients diagnosed with either A or B, the more common forms of hepatitis, which we have vaccines for. Then, in the late Eighties and very early Nineties, we identified hepatitis C.”

In the United States, approximately one percent of the population is infected with the virus. This estimate could potentially be higher when factoring in the incidence of the virus affecting people who are homeless, incarcerated or living in nursing homes because those people are typically not tested.  This could potentially bring the estimate to two percent of the population.

Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Prior to 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.

Symptoms of hepatitis C include jaundice, high fever, muscle aches, joint aches, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Initially, those infected typically complain of having nonspecific symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, mild abdominal discomfort, mild nausea and some weight loss.

“The vast majority of people who have this virus become chronically infected,” explains Dr. Nicholas. “They may have an acute infection that they’ll pass off as a bad flu. The virus can live in the infected person for decades undetected.”

Dr. Nicholas informs that the chronic infection can cause damage to the liver over time, leading to what’s called fibrosis, or scarring. Sometimes, it’s also referred to as hardening of the liver. Hepatitis C can also lead to other illnesses, including thyroid disorders, pulmonary conditions, diabetes, chronic joint aches and muscle aches. If left untreated or undetected, cirrhosis of the liver can develop and can also lead to decompensated liver disease, as well as liver cancer.

Noninvasive FibroScan

Community Aids Network has the first available mobile FibroScan unit, or fibrosis scanner, in the state of Florida.

The mobile FibroScan was developed as a noninvasive way of determining the extent of the damage to the liver caused by the virus. The gold standard in determining damage prior was a liver biopsy, which has risks associated with it.

“The FibroScan is a noninvasive, ultrasound-like probe that takes a picture of the liver and can then measure the degree of fibrosis, or scarring of the liver. It can also detect cirrhosis of the liver, a disease in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, keeping the liver from functioning properly,” Dr. Nicholas explains. “Based on the staging of the fibrosis or the evidence of cirrhosis, the physician would then have the patient get further testing done to rule out further complications. The testing performed with the FibroScan helps set the stage to determine which course of therapy, or which medications, should be given to the patient.

“We are able to transport this portable FibroScan to all twenty-four of our clinics statewide,” he continues. “This allows flexibility and convenience for the patients who need to have this testing done.  In addition, even if the patients are not being treated by one of the physicians in our network, their referring physicians can send them to one of our centers to have the FibroScan done. The results are immediately available and sent to the referring physician, and a copy can be given to the patient as well.”

Dr. Nicholas notes that the cost of the FibroScan is covered by most insurance plans.

Hepatitis C patients now have an alternative to liver biopsies, thanks to FibroScan® technology.

Dr. Reza examines a patient at the Comprehensive Care Center in Daytona Beach.

“The FibroScan is really the best we can offer hepatitis C patients who need these liver tests,” Dr. Nicholas adds. “There are so many benefits associated with this machine. We can transport it to any clinic; there is very little cost to the consumer; the test only takes about ten to fifteen minutes to complete and the results are available immediately. It is a win-win for doctors and, especially, the patient.”

Successful Treatments

Dr. Nicholas advises that there are new oral medications now available to successfully treat hepatitis C.

“In the past, we had medications called interferon and ribavirin that did not treat all the different forms of the disease well, particularly the strain we have in the United States today. Decades ago, there was only a sixty percent cure rate amongst those who could even tolerate the full course of therapy because those medications were very poorly tolerated.”

In recent years, however, doctors have begun to prescribe direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medications.

“These medications are remarkable because they have very few side effects,” Dr. Nicholas assures. “Remarkably, the medicine and technology have come a long way. Today, we can successfully eliminate most forms of the virus to nearly one hundred percent. It’s no longer something that may be considered potentially fatal. Today, it is controllable and very curable.”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photos courtesy of Community Aids Network. Graphic from

Say Goodbye to Glasses

Multiple options available to enjoy a life without glasses

Patti Chevalier looked no further than her workplace when it was time for her cataracts to be removed.

Patti Chevalier had cataract surgery performed at The Eye Institute of West Florida; Debbie Holt received the Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay to correct her nearsightedness.

Patti can see her computer screen without glasses.

As the patient coordinator at The Eye Institute of West Florida’s Largo Ambulatory Surgery Center, Patti is well versed in recognizing the symptoms of cataracts.

“I’ve been working here for twelve years now,” Patti states. “I’ve worn glasses or contacts since the Nineties. In recent years, I couldn’t see well, even with my glasses on, and especially at night when I was driving. Night vision was the worst. The headlights from the other cars and the streetlights caused halos. The glare was blinding at times.

“I couldn’t read anything on the computer at work. In restaurants, I couldn’t read the menu. I had glasses on from the minute I woke up to the minute I went to bed.

“I had a feeling I had cataracts simply because of all of the patients coming in for surgery who I talk to every day. Working with Dr. Weinstock, I consider myself to be well-versed with what cataracts are and how to know if you have them.”

To confirm her suspicions, Patti consulted her boss, Robert J. Weinstock, MD, Director of Cataract and Refractive Surgery at The Eye Institute of West Florida.

“After a very thorough evaluation and testing, Dr. Weinstock confirmed that I did indeed have cataracts. During our discussion, he was quick to suggest to me a new, advanced intraocular lens (IOL) called Symfony®.

“Patti wanted a solution that would not only take care of the cataracts, but result in her not having to wear glasses anymore,” Dr. Weinstock adds. “With the range of vision the Symfony lens provides, patients are able to focus at close-up, middle and far distances. It’s really magnificent.”

Extended Depth of Focus

Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that is quick and painless. The patient’s cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a new, intraocular lens. One eye is done at a time, typically one week apart.

The surgery is performed with eye drop anesthesia and light sedation. Patients typically see improvement in their vision within a day, continuing to improve over the next few days and weeks. They can return to normal activities the day after surgery.

Patti Chevalier had cataract surgery performed at The Eye Institute of West Florida; Debbie Holt received the Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay to correct her nearsightedness.

“With the range of vision this lens provides, patients are able to focus at close-up, middle and far distances. It’s really magnificent.” – Dr. Weinstock

A key to success with cataract surgery is helping patients understand the options available to them. IOLs range from standard monofocal (which correct sight at a single distance) to advanced multifocal lenses (designed to correct vision at multiple ranges: near, intermediate and far).

“Patti had issues with her vision both with distance and up close,” Dr. Weinstock explains. “She also had significant astigmatism.”

Together, Patti and Dr. Weinstock decided that the cloudy lens caused by the cataract would be replaced with the cutting-edge Symfony IOL, which best suited her lifestyle and needs.

“The Symfony lens has been in use in Europe and Canada for several years with great success,” notes Dr. Weinstock. “It helps vision at multiple distances, but it’s very different from other multifocal lenses. People who choose this lens typically don’t need glasses anymore, not even readers.  The way the lens is designed, the optics of it allow just about everything to be in focus. It’s very good for somebody who has very healthy eyes, aside from cataracts, and doesn’t want to wear glasses.

“In the past, multifocal lenses, like the ReSTOR®, provided a distance point that was in focus and a near point that was in focus. To see, you either had to hold the object you were trying to read at a certain distance, about fourteen inches from your eyes, or you had to hold it really close to your face. Those were the two zones available. The optics with the Symfony are more like a range of vision. It doesn’t matter where you hold the paper, up close at ten inches or looking at a computer screen eighteen inches away, all of those distances are in perfect focus.”     

The Symfony lens utilizes new technology called extended depth of focus. One advantage is how it provides intermediate vision for tasks such as reading a grocery shelf label or working at a computer.

“The ideal patient is someone like Patti, who stares at a computer screen all day,”
Dr. Weinstock describes. “Symfony is also great for someone who drives a lot.

“This lens is very good in providing distance vision and also provides midrange vision without some of the downfalls we see in multifocal lenses.”

A downside of typical multifocal IOLs is increased risk of glare and halos from oncoming headlights while driving, he explains, but that risk is much less with the Symfony lens.

“You can get glare and halos from any implant, but in the FDA study, glare and halos reported from the Symfony lens amounted to only three to four percent of patients, which is the same as for a standard monofocal lens implant,” says
Dr. Weinstock.

The Symfony lens is also available in a version that corrects astigmatism, so patients who have high astigmatism now have the possibility of not needing glasses.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the Symfony lens for use in the United States in July 2016.

Based on Patti’s visual goals and lifestyle, she chose the Symfony implant and underwent refractive cataract surgery.

“Refractive surgery is essentially any procedure done on the cornea or the lens to help someone free themselves of the burden of wearing glasses,” Dr. Weinstock reiterates. “Patti was the perfect candidate for the refractive procedure because of her job and her lifestyle. Now, she can read the screen on her computer with absolute clarity and no longer has any difficulties with her night vision. It was a very good choice for her.”

Seeing Is Believing

Patti says she experienced the benefits of the Symfony IOL implant almost immediately after her first surgery.

“When I got home from the surgery center, I had dinner and I sat down to watch some television and realized that before my surgery, I couldn’t tell the difference between high-definition television and a regular
signal,” she describes. “The high-definition was so clear and the colors were vibrant. I was really amazed!Patti Chevalier had cataract surgery performed at The Eye Institute of West Florida; Debbie Holt received the Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay to correct her nearsightedness.

“Also, I didn’t realize how white the walls inside my house were until now,” she relates with a laugh. “The difference from the time before surgery to after is amazing. It truly is.”

Patti says she is thankful she didn’t have far to travel to find the perfect surgeon to remove her cataracts.

“I’m fortunate that I work for Dr. Weinstock and he is so skilled and knowledgeable,” she says. “Patients that come and go from the surgery center sing his praises all day, every day. When it was my turn to have cataracts removed, I completely trusted him. I had no doubts. I am really happy with the results.”

No More Readers

Debbie Holt started wearing “cheaters” to read when she reached her 40s.

“I had reading glasses strewn all over the house,” she shares. “The bedroom, living room, the car, in my purse. I never could seem to find a pair when I wanted to read a recipe or a letter or newspaper. So, I just bought several and had them everywhere.”

In recent years, Debbie grew tired of needing glasses just to read.

“I wanted to get rid of them, and I knew there had to be a way,” Debbie recalls. “I heard about a new option to reduce or eliminate the need for reading glasses called the Raindrop inlay procedure, and I started to do some research to see which doctors performed it locally, and I found The Eye Institute of West Florida.”

The Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay is described as a revolutionary device designed to get younger patients out of reading glasses.

“Debbie came to me with a very common and bothersome complaint that everybody has when they hit somewhere between the ages of forty and fifty,”
Dr. Weinstock explains. “They start to lose their reading vision. These are people who have enjoyed good vision their entire lives – distance, middle and near. When they get to be about forty-five or so, they start to lose their ability to read like they used to. There hasn’t been a good solution for that until recently. The FDA approved what we call corneal inlay, called the Raindrop.

Patti Chevalier had cataract surgery performed at The Eye Institute of West Florida; Debbie Holt received the Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay to correct her nearsightedness.

Symfony IOL

“Basically, I make a little flap on the cornea and then place a very tiny contact lens there, about the size of a pinhead and less than half the thickness of a human hair.

“It’s a bridge for people who don’t yet have a cataract, but whose distance vision is good. They need reading glasses and they don’t want to wear them. This was exactly what Debbie’s issue was. She didn’t need cataract surgery. Her vision was good in the distance, but she was struggling with the reading and the need to have reading glasses everywhere. You can literally just throw your reading glasses away when you choose the Raindrop.”

Dr. Weinstock confirms that the procedure is very quick – less than ten minutes – and is performed in the non-dominant eye, which then balances out the vision. He adds that he is also participating in a clinical study to use this implant in patients who already had cataract surgery, but still rely on reading glasses to see well close-up.

Debbie is amazed at how much clearer people’s faces are, how much brighter colors appear, and how well she can read fine print on the computer.

“I’m more than pleased with the results,” Debbie conveys. “I am amazed at how such a short procedure could get me out of needing to use reading glasses. I think anyone who may be considering this should take the time to consult with Dr. Weinstock. His entire team is fabulous and easy to work with. They are very reputable in the Tampa Bay area, and I highly recommend them.”

Decades of Care

In the greater Tampa Bay area, it’s no secret that The Eye Institute of West Florida has been the go-to place for ophthalmic care for more than 40 years.

Patti Chevalier had cataract surgery performed at The Eye Institute of West Florida; Debbie Holt received the Raindrop® Near Vision Inlay to correct her nearsightedness.

Debbie no longer needs her “cheaters” to read fine print.

Dr. Weinstock says the practice prides itself on patient satisfaction and recommendations. He emphasizes that they will do whatever it takes to make sure each patient is well cared for.

“There is no one-size-fits-all treatment because everyone sees differently,” he assures. “We take the time to customize a treatment plan that meets each individual’s needs and lifestyle.”

The professionals at The Eye Institute of West Florida want people to
understand there are vision solutions available for every stage of life.

“No matter what age, we can help restore your vision to your younger days or give you better vision than you have ever had. We have options available, from LASIK to clear lens exchange to refractive cataract surgery, and now we have the Raindrop to get rid of reading glasses,” explains Dr. Weinstock.

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Stock photos from

O-Shot Wonder

Revolutionary product targets women suffering urinary incontinence.

Susan’s* battle with interstitial cystitis and urinary incontinence began about four years ago. The condition came about suddenly and was accompanied by unrelenting pain that would often last an hour or more.Susan* received bio-natural hormone replacement therapy and the O-Shot at Infinity Medical Institute.

“To say that it controlled my life is an understatement,” Susan confirms. “I couldn’t eat anything spicy, ever. No citrus, caffeine or carbonation either. All of those things irritated my bladder. The pain was excruciating.

“I consider myself an active person. I used to enjoy long walks, but I had to stop walking because I could not be on my feet for long periods of time. I would hurt all over, especially my bladder. Many times, I ended up on the floor in agony. I had heating pads in the car and at the office because applying heat was one of the few things that helped me. It was debilitating.”

Interstitial cystitis, also called painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition in which people experience bladder pressure, bladder pain and sometimes pelvic pain, ranging from mild to severe discomfort. A typical bladder expands until it’s full and then signals your brain that it’s time to urinate, communicating through the pelvic nerves. This creates the urge to urinate. With interstitial cystitis, these signals get mixed up, and you feel the need to urinate more often and with smaller volumes of urine than the average person.

The condition most often affects women and can have a long-lasting impact on their quality of life. Although there is no cure for interstitial cystitis, medications and other therapies may offer relief.

“Because of the incontinence and the accompanying pain from the interstitial cystitis, I couldn’t hold my urine,” Susan recalls. “If I had to go to the bathroom, I had to go right away. I always carried an extra set of clothes in the car, when I was working, wherever I was.”

Susan says eventually she was forced to quit her job as an insurance adjuster because of the long hours she spent in her car and the constant need to be near a bathroom.

“It was ridiculous, to the point where I was spending my time driving around looking for a bathroom all the time,” Susan says. “I became reclusive and didn’t want to go anywhere. I wanted to be close to home because I never knew when an attack would occur. I was either leaking all the time or in constant pain.”

Susan tried acupuncture and various medications for relief, but those proved unsuccessful. She was resigned to living with the painful condition.  Then, she heard about the O-Shot® offered at Infinity Medical Institute.

O-Shot Versatility

An established patient of Infinity Medical Institute’s weight loss program and bio-natural L3 pellet hormone replacement therapy, Susan says she overheard a brief conversation one day about the O-Shot and its versatile uses.

“I heard that it could help with
urinary incontinence, so I thought, Why not give it a try?”

Moriah R. Moffitt, MD, reaffirms that the O-Shot can, indeed, greatly help reverse the symptoms of urinary incontinence in patients.

“We have found that of the women who have received the O-Shot to treat their urinary incontinence issues, the majority have experienced vast improvement. Far too many women often experience incontinence issues when they cough, laugh or sneeze. The O-Shot helps to tighten, or strengthen, the
bladder muscles and stop the leakage.

“Most women have a series of shots, usually a total of three, averaging one injection every three months. Many experience a ninety percent improvement after the third shot, and typically, a vast improvement soon after the first shot.”

Dr. Moffitt assures patients that the procedure is pain free and there are no side effects.

“We make sure patients are comfortable, well informed and at ease with the procedure before and during the treatment,” she says. “There is never any pain, and the results are felt very quickly.”

Hormone Rejuvenation

In addition to the weight loss program and the O-Shot, Susan also receives the bio-natural L3 pellet hormone replacement therapy offered at Infinity Medical Institute.

Having had a hysterectomy at age 27, Susan began experiencing menopausal symptoms in her early 40s.

Susan took a hormone pill for many years following her hysterectomy, but found herself forgetting to take it, and eventually stopped taking it altogether.

 The pellet therapy, Susan says, is an amazing breakthrough and much more convenient.

“People could tell I wasn’t on the hormones anymore, I guess, at one point because they would ask me if I had taken my ‘meanie greenie’ pill, and I hadn’t because I quit taking them,” Susan recalls. “Now that I have had the pellets, my mood is better and I no longer have the menopausal symptoms I had before.”

The bio-natural L3 pellet hormone replacement therapy is the most natural and effective solution for hormone-related issues.

“Hormones affect everything, including our growth through childhood, our sexual development, our moods, how we break down our food, sleep patterns, stress, how much weight we gain – just about every function in the body, big and small,” Dr. Moffitt says. “Because of the hysterectomy she had at such a young age, Susan was suffering from menopausal symptoms in her early forties.

Susan* received bio-natural hormone replacement therapy and the O-Shot at Infinity Medical Institute.

Dr. Moffitt of Infinity Medical Institute talks with a patient about the benefits of the O-Shot.

“The body can never restore lost hormones again unless it is done endogenously, like we do here with the bio-natural L3 pellet therapy,” Dr. Moffitt continues. “Our bio-natural L3 pellet hormone therapy really helps to give us an edge as we provide patients with a product that is all-natural. “It is replacing natural, normal hormones with biologically identical hormones that the body is used to seeing, rather than synthetic versions of the hormones.”

A Life Transformed

An overall improved quality of life is a key factor for patients, like Susan, seeking hormone replacement therapy.

“Patients come in saying that they’re not feeling vibrant, energetic, and they have other various symptoms,” Dr. Moffitt explains. “For Susan, she had a hysterectomy at such a young age that her hormones were all over the place. They were pretty much depleted. Our goal for Susan and other patients seeking hormone replacement is to make them feel good from the inside out.”

Susan is happy with the care she has received at Infinity Medical Institute, from the weight loss program to the hormone replacement therapy.

“I would highly recommend Infinity Medical Institute because they have done so much to help improve my quality of life,” Susan confirms. “The O-Shot has truly changed my life. Before I had the shot, I was living with constant pain, and I suffered from a lot of anxiety. Now, I can socialize, take long walks, go out with friends and not worry about leakage. And I am pain free.

“The hormone replacement therapy has also helped to improve my life,” she adds. “I have a renewed energy and confidence that I was lacking before. I feel like I truly have my life back!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Fred Bellet. Stock photo from
*Patient’s name withheld at her request.

Living Life to the Fullest

Resident enjoys an abundance of daily activities

Patricia Towers hasn’t slowed down in her retirement years. A resident at Hibiscus Court, an assisted living community in Melbourne, she spends her days taking long walks by the lake, playing cards and staying active.

Patricia Towers enjoys her retirement years in the company of others at Hibiscus Court, an assisted living community.

Kelsey (right) accompanies Patricia on daily walks around the nearby lake.

Patricia says health concerns prompted her physician to recommend she move into an assisted living community rather than staying in her home alone.

“It is a blessing, really,” Patricia says. “Being by yourself gets lonely, so this was a good suggestion for me. Luckily, I knew right where Hibiscus Court was located, so there was never a question in my mind where I would move. I drove past it all the time, but had never gone in before. It is so beautiful on the outside. As soon as I walked in the front doors to inquire about it, I knew it was home. I just felt it.”

The activities staff at Hibiscus Court, under the direction of Paige Blossom, resident programming director, works tirelessly to provide a wide range of physical, social, and cognitive activities to stimulate the minds and occupy the days of the residents. As a result of their dedication, the programs offered are varied and individually tailored to make sure each resident feels connected to the community.

“Our goal is to always have something for the residents to look forward to,” Paige says. “We plan excursions, activities, big events, anything we can think of that provides them enjoyment and gives them the opportunity for a full social calendar.”

Working alongside Paige is Kelsey Hochard, activities assistant. “I absolutely love what I do, and I really enjoy making personal connections with our residents here,” Kelsey says. “Most importantly, I love planning fun and stimulating activities for our residents to keep them busy and engaged.”

Kelsey says she has formed a special bond with Patricia.

“Pat is such a wonderful individual,” Kelsey says. “I remember when she came here maybe a little over a year ago for a tour. She was living on her own at that time. I really think she just wanted to come to a community where there were people, where there were friends, and activities to enjoy. Pat is still in a very great state of mind.  She’s very, very independent.

“She loves to go for walks by the lake,” Kelsey adds. “If I get busy and forget, Pat is sure to remind me about our walk together. She really loves nature, and she adores the waterfall we have outside. Walks with her are a wonderful opportunity for me to bond with her. It’s the little things that I do with her that she really enjoys.

“Quality of life for them at this stage is so important,” Kelsey continues. “Paige and I work hard to make sure our residents stay active and involved. We have a group that meets every morning for an exercise class.  We keep them moving because it is important to stay active at every age.

“Every Friday, we host Friday Fest. It includes live music, entertainment, hors d’oeuvres and refreshments. The Friday music is upbeat and lively,” Kelsey describes. “We incorporate as much fun as we can into their daily activities. We also have sing-a-longs and dancing, which they really love, too. Many of them love to dance. That’s one thing I want to stress – this is not a place where our residents just sit around and do nothing all day. It’s the exact opposite. We cater to all personalities and levels.”

For those residents who may be a bit less active or enjoy quieter interests, Hibiscus Court offers card games, brain games, long walks, board games – anything necessary to stay engaged in a quieter setting.

“In the evenings, I organize some of the quieter activities for residents who are more laid back,” Kelsey says. “We do crossword puzzles or word searches. Those are all small-scale socializing events. I make sure to include all of the residents who enjoy the social gatherings. They may not want to do a crossword puzzle, but they can certainly come and drink some tea and socialize. No one is ever left out. We include everyone. We are a family.

“We organize special events for many holidays. For example, this past Valentine’s Day we created a Spa Day and offered manicures with a hand and arm massage, as well as a paraffin wax treatment to make their hands and feet feel silky smooth. We played music, and some of the men came up to socialize with the ladies. It was a great community event.”

Young at Heart

A unique program at Hibiscus Court is the intergenerational program.

“We have partnerships with a few local elementary schools. We arrange for the students to come in and sing, dance, perform and entertain the residents,” Paige explains. “I want to bring the generations together here at Hibiscus Court and allow the young and old to interact and bridge that gap where age tends to get in the way. It’s been a great learning experience for all involved. Our residents love it when the kids come, and the kids love them back.”

Kelsey says Patricia is one of the residents who really enjoy seeing the young kids when they visit. “They bring the kids in from the local schools. It’s fun to see them. We talk and sometimes play a game of cards,” shares Patricia.

“The smile on her face and how she just lights up when a group of kids comes in is heartwarming,” Kelsey says. “That goes for so many of our residents here. Sometimes, they are away from their own grandkids, and this gives them a chance to interact with young folks. We also have high school students who will come in, so it’s not just smaller kids. The older kids will come and sit with the residents or play cards or help them with a task. The residents just love it and it makes them happy. It’s a joy to see.”

Families are a very important ingredient in the success at Hibiscus Court.Patricia Towers enjoys her retirement years in the company of others at Hibiscus Court, an assisted living community.

“All of our activities are open to family members to participate in,” Paige relays. “If we go on field trips, family members are encouraged to come along. Friends and family members come in and participate in games, listen to the live entertainment – whatever they want to do to spend time with their loved ones. We understand how important family is in maintaining overall mental health.”

No Place Like Home

Kelsey says her job has been one of the most rewarding parts of her life. Being able to give back to her elders is self-gratifying.

“I can see in the residents’ eyes that they really enjoy the things we do for them,” Kelsey observes. “Any time we get a smile from them, we know we’re doing something right. Even if they can’t physically say Thank you for whatever reason, a smile is priceless. It really is.”

Patricia says because of people like Kelsey, she is happy to call Hibiscus Court home and could not imagine living anywhere else.

“This place is so much better than living alone; that I can definitely tell you,” she confirms. “I have a great view from my room; I have that personal space; and when I feel up to it, I can interact with the other residents. The staff is wonderful, too. They make you feel cared for and loved. I never feel alone.

“I raised four boys, so for me, Kelsey is like the daughter I never had. I love our walks together and the bond that we have formed. It’s special.”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photos by Jordan Pysz.

Reshaping Smiles

The right tools to rebuild broken smiles

Robert Kelso hadn’t enjoyed eating solid food in years. Things like steak, corn on the cob and spareribs were distant memories. Because Robert had severe bone loss along his upper and lower jaw, as well as several missing teeth and a loose denture, chewing became painful and nearly impossible.

Robert Kelso and Barbara Farley both received smile makeovers done by Richard Leong, Jr., DDS.

Barbara is able to participate in Sunday readings at her church once again.

“I spent incredible amounts of time and money over the years trying to rectify my teeth,” Robert confides. “I went to numerous dentists. Eventually, I had just three of my natural teeth left on the bottom, and those were supporting a bridge. I was left chewing on just one side of my mouth, and I couldn’t do it after a while. I eventually lost a lot more bone on the bottom. I was in pain most of the time when I chewed, so I was stuck eating softer foods for years.”

Robert’s upper teeth were extracted years ago and replaced with a denture. That denture, however, began to slip at times, causing him further embarrassment.

“I had so much bone loss across the top, too, that I could not keep the denture in place for long periods of time. My face was literally sunk in.”

The extreme decay that developed over time in Robert’s mouth also caused him to develop halitosis, or bad breath. This was something that caused him much anxiety.Robert Kelso and Barbara Farley both received smile makeovers done by Richard Leong, Jr., DDS.

“I’m a computer engineer for the public school system, so I talk to coworkers and others all day,” he shares. “I was constantly cognizant of my oral health. I always felt like I was too young to be having these extensive issues. I hoped and prayed I would find the perfect time, and the right dentist, to help me one day resolve them.”

Thankfully, Robert’s prayers were answered when he read an article about Richard Leong, Jr., DDS, of Melbourne.

“I read about Dr. Leong in Florida Health Care News,” Robert continues. “I was impressed with the amount of missionary work he does in Nicaragua and other countries. Like Dr. Leong, I am also a Christian, so I prayed for resolve, and I feel God sent me to him.”

Barbara Farley says faith also brought her and Dr. Leong together many years ago.

She and her husband, Mike, first met Dr. Leong through the church they both .

“Mike and I met Dr. Leong at church,” Barbara shares. “We went on a mission trip to Israel together. Mike was the first to go to Dr. Leong’s office years ago, and he was very pleased. Mike is the one who encouraged me to give Dr. Leong a try. Since I already knew him through the church and knew what a wonderful human being he was, the choice was easy.”

Barbara says she has suffered from periodontal disease most of her adult life and has always remained vigilant in taking care of her teeth in order to avoid losing them.

“I have my teeth cleaned every three months at Dr. Leong’s urging because of the periodontal issues I have had since I was in my twenties,” Barbara explains. “I do what I can to keep my teeth in good shape.”

Starting the Process

Dr. Leong is a general and implant dentist who practices comprehensive, full-treatment dentistry, including full mouth reconstruction. He describes the numerous steps he initially takes in determining if a person is a candidate for surgical dental procedures that can include bone reconstruction and the placement of dental implants. Robert’s dismal situation required extensive expertise and a well-executed plan.

Robert Kelso and Barbara Farley both received smile makeovers done by Richard Leong, Jr., DDS.

Robert can bite into fruit again now that he has strong teeth.

“There needs to be adequate bone, healthy gums and a proper bite first,” he explains. “Patients need to have a proper overall environment in their mouth in order for implants to be successful. They also need the proper overall attitude about taking care of themselves and their teeth. They can’t just think that they can come in, get implants and never think about those teeth again.

“Furthermore, their medical health needs to be in check. They may have medical conditions that could preclude them from having long-term success with their teeth. Ailments such as cancer, diabetes, cardiac issues and hypertension need to be considered.

“Lastly, they have to be committed to follow-up care. Routine cleanings and exams are vital to maintaining the implants, as well as their overall oral health. These are an investment, and the patient needs to be invested in it for the long haul.

“I went through all of these steps with Robert and Barbara, just as I do with every patient who walks through my door. There are never any surprises.”

Implementing a Plan

Due to the severity of Robert’s situation, his overall cosmetic plan included bone grafting, realignment of his bite, dental implants and bridges.

“The first step was to get his mouth healthy,” Dr. Leong explains. “We removed any infection he had in the gums first.

“I then had to re-establish his bite. One reason why he was unable to chew properly was because his bite was misaligned. Once that was taken care of, we progressed and did some bone grafting along the bottom in preparation for dental implants and then bridges.

“In addition, we firmly secured his upper denture as well. He needed to have the proper bite, and that took time to perfect. Without fixing the upper denture, nothing we did along the bottom was going to be worth it. Everything had to fit together perfectly.”

Dr. Leong says Robert’s transformation from start to finish took about a year to complete.

“He has been through a lot of surgery and procedures, but in the end, he looks like a new person, and it is very rewarding to be able to provide that to someone in such dire need.”

Barbara started her care withDr. Leong by undergoing deep tissue cleanings because of her periodontal disease. During one of those visits, she recalls, Dr. Leong noticed a hole in her bridge. “He was able to go in and perform surgery, extract my tooth, place two implants, and do a root canal, all in one day,” she says. “Dr. Leong is right there to take care of any problem you have with your mouth.”

Between dental visits, a tooth broke off on the lower left side of Barbara’s mouth. It was left untreated, and the surrounding bone disintegrated.

“She wanted that tooth replaced, but when there is little to no bone there, it is difficult,” Dr. Leong explains. “We considered her options and any way we looked, she required a lot of surgery to correct the issue.Robert Kelso and Barbara Farley both received smile makeovers done by Richard Leong, Jr., DDS.

“I started by removing the broken tooth and then utilized platelet-rich plasma and grafted new bone into that space in order to eventually place an implant there. It was risky because we were very close to a major nerve, but we managed to do what was necessary.

“After Barbara healed, I placed a blade implant in that space, which is an implant that works well where there is a small amount of bone present. That implant was later crowned.

“After that work was completed, I provided further support along the right-hand side of the bottom jaw by placing a bridge and crowns there. Now, she can chew normally on both sides of her mouth, and her teeth no longer wiggle.

“Barbara has had quite a bit of work done over the years, and it has all been very successful for her.”

Everything Under One Roof

Because of the impact he is able to have on his patients’ health and comfort, Dr. Leong says that comprehensive care is a cornerstone philosophy of his practice.Robert Kelso and Barbara Farley both received smile makeovers done by Richard Leong, Jr., DDS.

“We provide a comprehensive service so that, when patients come into the office, I am able to help them in all areas,” he explains. “As a result, they don’t have to travel to many different places to have their dentistry completed. The protocols keep improving, so techniques become faster and better.”

Dr. Leong utilizes many of today’s leading-edge advancements in implantology in his own practice, as well as personally developing new techniques.

“My office is equipped with all of the latest technology. We are very high-tech, and I want to get the point across that I do a lot more than just cleanings or fillings. I specialize in comprehensive dentistry in order to meet the growing and changing needs of my patients. Their needs always come first.”

Bite and Smile Again!

For the first time in 30 years, Robert recently enjoyed eating corn on the cob again.

“I bit into an apple the other day, and it was remarkable!” Robert raves. “This is the first time in decades I have had a full set of teeth.Robert Kelso and Barbara Farley both received smile makeovers done by Richard Leong, Jr., DDS.

“Dr. Leong is a wonderful dentist and an even better human being because he genuinely wants to help others and change lives. He cares, and you can see it in him.”

For both patients, the combination of excellent care and technical skill has proven to be exactly what they were looking for in a dentist.

“I would say my husband and I have been going to Dr. Leong for over two decades now,” Barbara says. “Everyone in that office is so personable and caring. Most people dread going to the dentist, but I never feel that way.

“Dr. Leong stays on top of every new skill, and he’s just a very giving person in everything he does,” she adds. “He’s a very caring person who loves helping people with their teeth.”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Before and after images courtesy of Dr. Leong. Stock photo from
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