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Reeling in Back Pain

Drug-free, nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy provides relief.

An eight-pound bass he caught and had mounted when he was a kid is one of the few trophies that tournament fisherman John Patterson has on display inside his DeLand area home. John’s house isn’t big enough to hold all the others.Photos courtesy of John Patterson.

“I’ve got boxes of them in storage,” says John, a production supervisor with Florida Power & Light who has been reeling in prized catches for almost as long as he’s worked for the company, which is 31 years.

“I’ve won some money, a lot of trophies and a lot of bragging rights over the years,” John adds. “As far as bass fishing goes, the biggest bass I ever caught was nine pounds, 14 ounces, and the biggest bag I ever had was five fish, (weighing) 27 pounds.

“I’ve also caught some really huge snook and redfish in my day, but I’ve recently gotten into shark fishing. The shark fishing bug has bitten me hard. My son is into it, too, and we spent his spring break this year shark fishing.”

A real outdoorsy type, John also rides a motorcycle – a 1996 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy® – but a steady increase in back pain recently forced him to abandon his bike, his fishing pole and just about every other activity he enjoys.

“My back problems date back to when I was much younger and worked on a transmission crew for the power company,” John relates. “I had a herniation at L5 (vertebra) and went through a procedure that took care of it for a long time.

“As we get older, though, things change. A few years ago, my back started to flare up again. For a long time, I fought through it, but it got progressively worse to the point where no matter what I did, I really paid for it.

“If I went for a ride on my bike, by the time I got home, I was in agony. If I went to the gym, it hurt all over. Even fishing was painful, because you’re standing all day, casting hundreds of times and reeling in fish, netting fish, and that really took a toll.

“It hurt me just to get out of bed in the morning, and I’ve been to a lot of chiropractors over the years, but when this flared up, I decided to go to DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression because I’d heard a lot of good things about them.”

Time to Decompress

At DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression, John’s back pain was initially treated with standard chiropractic care and physical therapy. When those methods failed to produce the desired results, Michael Munson, DC, recommended spinal decompression.

Photos courtesy of John Patterson.

John is back enjoying fishing again.

Spinal decompression is a drug-free, noninvasive, nonsurgical therapy that can be used to treat bulging, herniated or protruding discs, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, neuropathy in the arms or legs, and post-surgical neck and/or back pain.

“My goal is for patients to avoid a surgical intervention if at all possible, and noninvasive forms of treatment such as spinal decompression help us achieve that goal with minimal risk to the patient,” Dr. Munson says. “It’s a great way to treat a patient from a conservative standpoint.”

At DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression, decompression therapy is delivered through a machine called the DRX9000, which has the capacity to produce 150 pounds of decompressive force through gentle motion.

“If you want the best results for your patients, you need to have the best equipment,” says Jeremy M. Gordon, DC, of DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression. “That’s why we utilize the DRX9000 decompression system. It’s unequaled in its design and clinical results.”

A typical spinal decompression treatment begins with the patient getting comfortable on the decompression table. The DRX9000 then creates a very gentle decompressive force on the patient’s damaged discs. This reduces the pressure on the disc, which helps to pull some of the disc material back inward. The return of that disc material to its natural state alleviates the pain and rehydrates the injured disc.

The DRX9000 can be used to treat cervical and/or lumbar disc injuries through a program typically comprised of 24 visits across 10 weeks. Each visit lasts about an hour, with the first 10 designed to determine the patient’s likely response.

“We start by treating patients five days a week for two weeks, and our goal is to see a 50 percent improvement in function and pain in those first 10 visits,” Dr. Gordon educates. “If we see that improvement, we continue with the remaining 14 treatments.”

That standard course of treatment has proven very effective. DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression has tracked the results of patients receiving its spinal decompression therapy for more than a decade, and the findings are remarkable.

“After tracking hundreds of patients, I am very proud to report that our patient satisfaction rate exceeds 80 percent,” Dr. Gordon proclaims. “That’s a much higher satisfaction rate than invasive surgery.”

Decompression is typically followed by cold therapy and/or electrical muscle stimulation to restore proper muscle tone, decrease inflammation and maximize the effects of the treatment. It’s an all-inclusive therapy that literally worked wonders for John.

Phenomenal Results

John has been visiting DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression for about two years, and the fact that he’s back out on his boat, working out and riding his Harley regularly is proof of how well spinal decompression works.

“During Bike Week, we had our little event here in DeLand, and my fiancée and I rode downtown for the first time in a long time, and my back didn’t bother me at all when I got home,” John confirms.

“It’s really given me a lot of relief. It’s kind of given me my life back.” – John

“I’m into tournament fishing again for the first time in a long time. In fact, my partner and I won first place in the first tournament we entered a while back, so that was a nice welcome back for me.

“I also took my son out for some offshore fishing recently, and it was a little bumpy that day, but I did just fine. My back didn’t bother me at all like it had in years past, and that’s how I know that the spinal decompression is working.

“It’s really given me a lot of relief. It’s given me my life back. That’s why I only have good things to say about spinal decompression and the whole staff at DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression.

“Everybody there is professional, and they treat you like family. They don’t treat you like you’re a number and just get you in and out and say, See you next week. They’re very thorough, and they really care about your well-being.

“Everybody there is genuinely concerned about you. They want to know how you’re feeling, and they want you to get better. They have a genuine care for your health concerns and that’s why I’d recommend them to anyone suffering with back pain.”

Worth the Drive

In need of a better bite, patient finds a distant dentist close to her heart.

The unique ability to fluidly speak several languages, including English, French, Dutch and Hebrew, has served 74-year-old Elise quite well since she moved from her native Belgium to America 47 years ago.

Photo courtesy of Elise.

Elise is all smiles after her treatment by Regency Court Dentistry.

“Since I moved to the United States in 1973, I have worked as an interpreter and a translator for the United States government, for the federal court system and at a number of national and international conferences,” Elise explains.

“I mostly worked as a freelancer that whole time, and I’m fortunate that my job has taken me all over the world. I’m also fortunate to have interpreted for all kinds of people, including some heads of state and several celebrities in the political arena.”

For convenience, Elise spent the first several years of her career as an interpreter and translator living in New York City. She eventually moved to Florida, and for more than 30 years, she and her husband have happily called Palm Beach home.

Unfortunately, while relaxing at home one Friday last year, Elise’s husband began to suffer greatly from a bad toothache. When the problem persisted into the next day, Elise went in search of a dentist who would see her husband on an emergency basis.

The dentist she found was Aurelie Huyghues-Despointes, DMD, of Regency Court Dentistry in Boca Raton. Elise was so impressed with Dr. Huyghues-Despointes that she decided to also make an appointment for herself.

“She did such a great job taking care of my husband, and she and her staff were so nice and friendly, that even though it’s a long drive from my home, I wanted to become her patient,” Elise confirms. “So I made an appointment to see her for a checkup.”

Elise’s timing could not have been better. She wasn’t suffering from any pain when she returned, but had she waited a few more days she might have needed an emergency visit.

The reason: an abscess, or bacterial infection, had developed beneath her upper left eyetooth. That, though, was only one of several problems Dr. Huyghes-Despointes discovered.

“We did a comprehensive exam of Elise and discovered that in addition to the abscess, she was also missing a lot of teeth, mostly in the back, and had been fit with several bridges,” Dr. Huyghues-Despointes reports. “She also had a problem with her bite.

“Because many of the teeth she was missing were back teeth, she was putting all the force of her bite on her front teeth. She was putting so much force on those teeth that she actually had fracture lines running through them.

In treating Elise, Dr. Huyghues-Despointes addressed the abscess first. To do that, she removed the bridge and performed a root canal on Elise’s left eye tooth. The next step was to put new crowns on the teeth that had previously supported the bridges.

Dr. Huyghues-Despointes recommended single crowns for the previous support teeth and dental implants for the teeth that were missing because that combination offers patients far better support than a bridge.

“What happens when you have a bridge is that when you bite down on it the bridge acts like a trampoline when you jump on it,” she says. “The pontic, which is the false tooth in the middle, sort of depresses a little bit and the adjacent teeth move around.

“Over time, that can result in breakage and fractures around those teeth, so the best thing to do in that situation is to get rid of the bridge, clean up the decay around the adjacent teeth, crown those teeth and place implants where teeth are missing.

“That way, the adjacent teeth won’t shift and the alignment will be better. And because the alignment is better, the patient will be able to chew better. This approach gives the patient much better function than they had previously with bridges.”

Long Distance Relationship

In taking on Elise’s restoration, Dr. Huyghues-Despointes committed to putting crowns on five teeth and placing implants where seven teeth were missing. After beginning her work in late 2019, Dr. Huyghues-Despointes completed the crown work in March.

Dental Implants

The final phase of the reconstruction is the placement of the implants, which are screw-like bodies that are surgically placed into the jawbone. They become the foundation for replacement teeth.

Including the implant placement, a task taken on by Naved Fatmi, DMD, all the work on Elise’s reconstruction was done at Regency Court Dentistry. The fact she traveled 30 miles from Palm Beach to have that work done didn’t bother Elise.

“It’s a bit of a drive, but we’ve continued to visit Regency Court Dentistry because we like the people there and because they all do such great work,” Elise confirms. “Everyone from the receptionist to the dentists is just so nice.

“They smile when you come and make you feel at home, and that makes you feel better the minute you walk in. I like that, and of course I like that they can do all the work right there and that I don’t have to go anywhere else.

“What Dr. Huyghues-Despointes has done for me and my husband is incredible. She got my husband out of pain, and by replacing the bridges and giving me these beautiful new crowns, she’s taking great care of me.

“I could not be happier with her or the work she’s done. She’s a wonderful dentist, very up to date on everything, and she makes sure you’re never in pain. That’s why I highly recommend her and Regency Court Dentistry to anyone.”

In and Out Same Day

Go home just hours after knee, hip replacement surgery.

Since retiring early from his job as a telecommunications director nine years ago, Tom DiBenedetto has been steadily scratching off items from his bucket list. Most are trips he has long wanted to take to countries around the world.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Tom DiBenedetto

“We’ve been all over Europe, and last year we went to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, which were absolutely awesome,” Tom says of himself and his husband. “We’ve also done Australia, New Zealand and Russia, so we’ve been getting around.”

Tom gets around a lot. When he’s not traveling the globe, he’s cycling along the riding trails throughout Pinellas County, where it was once typical for him to log 30 or more miles a day.
“That’s my exercise of choice, for sure,” Tom says. “I’ve ridden all the trails here in Pinellas County, and I really enjoy it. I don’t belong to a club or anything because a lot of them want you to constantly ride at a certain clip, and I’d rather not do that.

“I just ride for the fun of it, for the joy of the ride, really. I try to get out at least five days a week, and there have been plenty of days where I’ve ridden as many as 40 miles. But that was before I started having knee problems.”

The troubles mostly affected his right knee. They started about 10 years ago, Tom says, and worsened steadily over time until he needed arthroscopic surgeries in 2016 and 2018. The procedures relieved some of the nagging pain that forced Tom to cut his daily bike rides in half (“And that was with a lot of rest in between,” he says) but did little to resolve the overriding issue.

To correct that, Tom needed to have the knee joint replaced. That was the advice of the doctor he saw for the second arthroscopy, who recommended that Tom have his replacement surgery done at Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America.

Minimally Invasive

Since opening in spring 2019, Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America has specialized exclusively in a unique protocol for the surgical replacement of knee and hip joints in an outpatient setting.

Developed by the clinic’s founders, Philip E. Clifford, MD, and Paulina J. Collier, MPAS, PA-C, the protocol eliminates the need for long postoperative hospital stays.

“One of the things that’s most unique about our protocol is the medicines we use,” Dr. Clifford explains. “One of those medicines is called Exparel®. It’s a long-lasting, non-opioid, local anesthetic that can last for two to three days.

“For knee replacement surgery, we also do what’s called an adductor canal block. When you do that and the injection of Exparel properly, it allows the patient to get up and move around faster following surgery.

“Another thing that’s unique about our protocol is the surgical technique we use. For example, with our knee replacement surgery, we’re not assaulting the muscle; we’re incising the capsule of the joint. That, in and of itself, means less trauma.

“They genuinely care about you, and they practice medicine the way it should be practiced.” – Tom

“The same is true of our hip replacement surgery. That too is a minimally invasive, muscle-sparing replacement procedure that results in less muscle trauma and less bleeding. And the less muscle trauma and bleeding you have, the better.

“The hip procedure is also done through a small incision, about three inches long, and that allows us to preserve muscle attachments as well, which means the patient can get up and start moving just hours after surgery with no limitations.

“The other thing we do is spend an incredible amount of time educating each patient before the surgery. We’ll spend 45 minutes to an hour getting them ready for surgery and prepared for what to expect and do afterward.

“When our patients go home after surgery, they know that between 4 and 7 o’clock that night, we’ll be calling back to check on them. It’s not them calling us; it’s us calling them. That level of patient care is not really out there in many places.”

“Better, Faster”

Tom began to experience that level of patient care during his first visit. He says it lasted more than an hour and convinced him that having his knee surgery done through Outpatient Joint Replacement Center was the right thing to do.

“I’ve never had a doctor explain everything about a procedure as thoroughly as Dr. Clifford,” Tom reports. “He went over the x-rays, showed us what the knee implant looked like and went through the entire procedure with us. It was amazing.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Within a month of undergoing total knee replacement surgery, Tom was pain-free and
fully functional.

Amazing is precisely how Dr. Clifford describes the artificial knee joint he implants in patients such as Tom. He refers to it as “the best available” and credits the joint for a great deal of the success he has in treating such patients.

“With the vast majority of knee replacements, the plastic is fixed to the metal that goes into the tibia and is cemented in the tibia,” he says. “This implant is a rotating platform. That plastic part can swivel and rotate. That facilitates better and faster range of motion.”

Dr. Clifford says the implant’s design allows patients to heal quicker. And Tom is proof. One month after surgery, he was already at a level in his rehabilitation that patients undergoing typical knee replacement surgeries need two months to reach.

“The physical therapists were telling me I was about a month ahead of schedule,” Tom confirms. “And I think that was a result of not just the implant that Dr. Clifford put in, but the skill that he has as a surgeon.

“That and the medicines they use are the main reasons I was doing so well just a month after surgery. And by well I mean I was driving and fully capable of taking care of myself – fully functional, pain-free and doing everything I wanted to do.

“Now I’m riding my bike again. I’ve taken that slow. I didn’t just jump back in and start riding 10 or 15 miles a day, but I’ve been building it up little by little each day, and I’m feeling great.

“I owe that all to the great people at the Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America and the tremendous work they do. But it’s not just about the work they do. They’re also very responsive, wonderful people.

“They genuinely care about you, and they practice medicine the way it should be practiced. Unfortunately, that’s not the way most doctors practice today, but they do it right, and I have only good things to say about them.”

Sight Adjustment

Revolutionary replacement lens brings world into greater focus.

An incredibly positive turn of events has occurred for patients with cataracts. For the first time, there is a cataract lens implant that can be adjusted after surgery to give patients the perfect vision they’ve always wanted. As Mary Arana-Anderson and Lee Stillwell learned, this revolutionary light-adjustable lens, or LAL, can easily give patients freedom from glasses for good.

Mary’s photos courtesy of Mary Arana-Anderson.

A raccoon that she’s nursing back to health is one the many critters running around Mary’s home.

Mary has a little lamb. She also has a goat, two hedgehogs and a raccoon that she’s been nursing back to health ever since it wandered back onto her property in a wounded state a few months back.

With all those animals running around, some might find it difficult to determine the difference between Mary’s Inverness home and the wild. That’s how this former nurse likes it, though.

“We actually provided food for the local zoo, and when we delivered produce there, we almost always wound up bringing home a monkey or something. Ever since then, I’ve loved being around different kinds of animals.”

When she’s not looking after her animals, Mary, 68, works as an accountant at a friend’s firm. During a recent two-year span, however, her ability to do that job and many others was greatly compromised by problems with her vision.

“I wear reading glasses for work and a lot of other things, and during those two years I went from wearing plus-1.00 readers to wearing plus-3.50 readers. I still couldn’t read well even after using a magnifying glass,” she laments.

“After a while, it got to a point where everything was blurry. Eventually, I had trouble watching TV, putting on makeup, everything. I literally stopped putting on makeup and had makeup tattooed on my face because I couldn’t do it anymore.”

Mary’s worsening vision problems eventually prompted a trip to a couple of eye doctors, who diagnosed her with advanced cataracts and suggested she have surgery to remove them.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common medical procedures, with more than 4 million performed in the United States each year. Despite that and the fact she had LASIK surgery 30 years earlier, Mary was hesitant. She was, at least, until she followed up on the advice of a couple of friends and made the trek from Citrus County to Largo to visit Robert J. Weinstock, MD, at The Eye Institute of West Florida.

“I don’t know why, but while talking to the other doctors, the idea of having cataract surgery seemed scary to me,” Mary says. “But Dr. Weinstock made me feel so comfortable and confident about it that I decided to go ahead with it.”

Groundbreaking Option

During his initial visit with Mary, Dr. Weinstock learned that during her LASIK surgery she had one eye corrected for distance and the other for reading, an option known as monovision.

Before the cataracts developed, Mary enjoyed exceptional results from the monovision procedure, so Dr. Weinstock recommended the same correction for her cataract surgery. He also recommended implanting the revolutionary light-adjustable lens.

Mary’s photos courtesy of Mary Arana-Anderson.

Mary Arana-Anderson

“This new LAL is the best lens yet for monovision patients,” Dr. Weinstock exclaims. “It’s also great for people who have had LASIK, PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) or radial keratotomy surgeries because those procedures throw a curveball at us when measuring the eye and picking the right lens.

“That’s why I recommended it for Mary. It’s really state-of-the-art, and it’s implanted just like any other intraocular lens. The difference is that this lens can actually be adjusted for better vision following the surgery.”

Those adjustments are made about a month after the surgery during a relatively routine appointment. During the visit, the lens power can be customized and locked into place by shining an ultraviolet light onto the exterior of the lens.

“This lens has been in development for almost 10 years, and it allows us to do a better job of reaching the goal of modern-day cataract surgery, which is to get the patient completely out of glasses,” Dr. Weinstock educates.

“Typically, when picking a replacement lens for a patient and later implanting that lens, there are some inherent inaccuracies and healing factors that we can’t control. These factors can result in the patient’s post-op vision being close but not quite perfect.

“It’s never far off, but sometimes we need to either give the patient glasses, which we hate to do, or do another procedure afterward that is not super invasive, but still, it’s another procedure, which requires healing.

“With this light-adjustable lens, you take the best numbers and measurements before and during surgery. Then, you put the lens in the eye. You let the eye heal and review the results at the patient’s follow-up appointment.”

“If the patient’s vision is not perfect, you can adjust the lens inside the eye. To do that, all you need to do is dilate the patient’s eyes and have them look at this blue light. The new prescription is then programmed into a laser, which makes the adjustment. When the vision is where the patient wants it, the final lens power is locked in.

“The adjustment is made in about 30 seconds to a minute, and you can do it up to two or three times over the course of the first couple months after surgery. It’s a much more customizable approach than we’ve ever been able to do before.”

Dr. Weinstock says the only drawback to being fit with light-adjustable lenses is that, prior to receiving the final adjustment, the patient must wear special glasses to protect the eyes from ultraviolet light.

“That’s done to keep the lenses in the stage where it is still adjustable,” Dr. Weinstock notes. “So, yes, you’re wearing those glasses for a month or two. But do you want to wear glasses for a month or forever? Most people will say they’ll wear them for a month.”

Perfect Fit

Not every patient is a candidate for the light-adjustable lens, according to Dr. Weinstock, but Mary was. Since being fit with LALs and having them adjusted, Mary’s vision is better than 20/20.

“We’re measuring her at 20/15 for distance vision and 20/15 for near or reading vision,” Dr. Weinstock confirms. “And that is typical of the results we’re getting with many of the patients we’re fitting with these new lenses.

“I’ve got to tell you, of all the replacement lenses that have come along over the years, I’ve never seen a lens that can deliver this level of precision and allow someone to read so far down the chart – better than 20/20 – as this one does.”

Like Dr. Weinstock, Mary can’t help but marvel at the results of her cataract surgery. She says the outcome has so greatly improved her life that she wonders why she waited so long to have the surgery.

“I see perfectly now,” she enthuses. “I can see far away, and I can see up close. It’s like I have the vision I had when I was a child. Even colors are brighter. It’s great.

“The only hard part has been getting used to actually being able to see so well. I know that sounds funny, but after so many years of not being able to see everything so clearly, it’s an adjustment. This experience truly has been life-changing for me.”

New World View

From journalist to press secretary to lobbyist for the American Medical Association, Lee experienced firsthand the world of national politics from just about every angle during his long and distinguished career.

Lee’s photo courtesy of Lee Stillwell.

Lee Stillwell

“I started out as a journalist in the Air Force, and after I got out, I slowly worked my way up to the national staff covering politics for the Scripps Howard News Service,” Lee says. “I then went over to the dark side and got into politics myself as a press secretary.

“I worked both sides of the House, first for Abe Ribicoff, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, and later for Bill Armstrong, a Republican from Colorado. From there, I got recruited by the American Medical Association.

“I was the AMA’s senior vice president for advocacy and had staff in Washington, DC, and Chicago and spent a lot of time traveling back and forth between the two. As my wife put it, I was an influence peddler for doctors and patients.”

Now retired and living on the beach in Clearwater, Lee and his wife spend as much time as they can traveling. Lee says “the entire world” is on their bucket list, and they plan to scratch the Seychelles and South Africa off that list in 2020.

“There’s always something new to see,” says Lee, who will be seeing those new destinations better than he’s seen any before, thanks to the expert work recently performed by Dr. Weinstock.

Lee sought out Dr. Weinstock last summer after he noticed a discernible change in his vision. Thinking the decreased sharpness was the result of cataracts, Lee first visited an optometrist who confirmed his suspicion.

“He said the cataracts needed to come out, and because I wanted to get this done before our next big excursion, I immediately started looking for a specialist to do the surgery,” Lee says. “That’s how I found Dr. Weinstock.

“While reading about Dr. Weinstock, I learned that he does a lot of research and is tied with the FDA. That is important to me. After reading about him, it was just a matter of meeting him and deciding what kind of replacement lens I was going to get.

“I’m a guy who likes to get the latest and the best, and when I mentioned that to Dr. Weinstock, he suggested that I might want to go with this new lens called the LAL that he and his technicians were all talking about.

“So, I went back and read up on LALs, looked at all the data and studies, and realized the FDA had just approved them, and The Eye Institute of West Florida was going to be the first in the Southeast to use them. I liked what I read and decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

Lock in Perfect Sight

The LAL is one of several intraocular lens (IOL) options at The Eye Institute of West Florida. Others include standard IOLs that correct primarily for distance and multifocal vision.

For years, the best multifocal IOLs could be fit to improve a person’s distance vision and either their reading or intermediate vision. A new multifocal lens called the PanOptix® lens now allows for correction of distance, near and intermediate vision.

“The PanOptix is one of several great lens options that can provide a patient with freedom from glasses, so it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all type of environment these days,” Dr. Weinstock explains.

“That’s why it’s important to find a surgeon who knows how to use all these technologies and help each patient make the right decision based on individual needs and history, which is precisely what we did with Lee.

“He wanted to be sure that his distance vision was 20/20 or 20/15, so we gave him LALs, and what we did was make one eye outrageously sharp in the distance. The other, we set for intermediate use, such as looking at a computer.

“Now, when he’s using both eyes, he has almost a full range of vision. That’s because we set the second eye in such a way that he would be able to read most anything without glasses, so he is pretty much glasses-free.”

“They do great work… So if you need eye surgery of any kind, go to The Eye Institute of West Florida. They’re great.”- Mary

Lee, who had his cataract surgery in early October 2019 and the LAL adjustments about a month later, confirms he no longer needs glasses. He says the freedom the lenses give him is nothing short of a miracle.

“I can sit at the breakfast table in my home and read texts on my iPhone and read my iPad, which is right in front of me, and also look out at the TV in the other room and see it all clearly, without glasses,” Lee exudes.

“I see everything perfectly. I can even read menus in restaurants without glasses. This is perfect for my lifestyle, and I thank Dr. Weinstock for recommending it and for guiding me through it.

“As you might suspect, I’ve been around a lot of doctors, and his background really impressed me. Then I got around him, and I found him to be very personable. He’s a very engaging guy, and he stays on top of things.

“I’ve already recommended him to others because his recommendations have sure worked out for me. I am more than satisfied and happy, and I can’t wait to see all those wild animals up close in Africa.”

“This lens… allows us to do a better job of reaching the goal of modern-day cataract surgery, which is to get the patient completely out of glasses.” – Dr. Weinstock

Mary doesn’t have to travel to Africa to see wild animals. She has plenty of them in her own backyard, and she’s seeing them more clearly than ever thanks to
Dr. Weinstock and the staff at The Eye Institute of West Florida.

“It was like surgical precision in the operating room there,” she raves. “Being a former nurse, I know how an operating room works and how people move around there, and everyone knew what their job was and how to do it, and they did it perfectly.

“Everyone there is so friendly and kind. It was almost like going to Disney World. That’s how friendly and sweet everybody is. Everybody’s smiling there all the time, and that makes you feel good when you go there.

“But that’s just one of the reasons I recommend them. The most important is that they do great work. The fact that I can see better than I have in years is proof of that, so if you need eye surgery of any kind, go to The Eye Institute of West Florida. They’re great.”

Right on Target

Avoid surgery with focused antibody treatments.

While working in the reservations department of one of the world’s largest and best-known hotel chains, Denelda Berkley made sure to take full advantage of one of the great perks that come with such a job.

“I was allowed to stay at any of the company’s hotels for about 20 dollars a night, so my husband and I traveled quite a bit while I worked that job,” Denelda confirms. “We went all over. We mostly liked Aruba, Saint Thomas and Hawaii, anywhere it’s warm.”

A native of Wyandotte, MI, Denelda spent many of her working years hoping for a chance to move to a warm-weather climate. She finally got that chance when she and her husband moved from Connecticut several years ago to run a retirement home in Port Richey.

“My husband and I were managers of a retirement home in Indiana, and we moved from there to Connecticut to run another retirement home there,” Denelda explains. “When we got the chance to run a retirement home in Port Richey, we jumped at it.”

Denelda, 72, has since retired. She still lives in Port Richey, where she loves to read fictional detective books in her free time. About three years ago, Denelda detected a problem on her own.

“I noticed a lump in my right breast one day, and right away, I went to see my primary care doctor,” Denelda remembers. “He sent me for a mammogram, and the mammogram showed something suspicious.

“After that, I was sent to a breast surgeon, and a biopsy was done that showed I had breast cancer. But the breast surgeon didn’t want to do surgery until I saw an oncologist, so she sent me to see Dr. Choksi.”

Mamta T. Choksi, MD, is a hematologist and oncologist at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute. She discovered that Denelda’s cancer had metastasized to her liver and a lymph node in her right underarm.

“The diagnosis was stage IV breast cancer because the cancer had moved from my breast to other parts of my body,” Denelda says. “When I heard that, I thought, Oh, my God, because I watched my husband die of cancer in 2007.

“He lasted just nine months after he was diagnosed, and that was with chemotherapy and everything, so I asked Dr. Choksi to be honest with me. I asked her, How long do I have? and she said, I don’t put an expiration date on anybody.”

Advances in Care

Dr. Choksi takes that approach because major progress in the treatment of all types of cancers is being made all the time. In the past 15 years, many of those advancements have been made in the treatment of breast cancer.

Dr. Choksi describes the developments as “earth-shattering” because they are allowing patients such as Denelda to put off or avoid surgeries that were previously considered mandatory.

“We now have what’s known as a HER2/neu receptor-based treatment that acts as a targeted antibody,” Dr. Choksi explains. “That is what we prescribed for Denelda.”

Dr. Choksi’s prescription called for Denelda to receive a combination of three cancer-fighting drugs once every three weeks for 12 weeks. At the end of that initial period, Dr. Choksi discovered the treatment was working as intended.

“After 12 weeks, Denelda was given a PET scan that showed significant improvement of the liver metastasis, the breast mass and the lymph node,” Dr. Choksi confirms. “She was having a good response to the treatment.”

That PET scan was performed in March 2018. Shortly after, Denelda suffered what she refers to as a “mental breakdown.” Imaging of the brain was obtained to be sure the breakdown wasn’t cancer related. When that imaging came back negative, Denelda’s cancer treatment was put on hold to allow her to focus on her mental health.

It wasn’t until August 2018 that Denelda was allowed to resume her cancer treatments. By then, tumor markers were on the rise, and a restaging workup showed that while the mass in her right breast remained stable, other metastases had developed in the liver.

Dr. Choksi responded by reinitiating Denelda’s chemotherapy but with a slightly different combination of drugs. Denelda’s response was much like her response to the first treatment.

“My Miracle Worker”

“By December 2018, her tumor markers were back to normal, and since then her cancer has remained very, very stable,” Dr. Choksi reports. “It is now under control, and she is having a very good response to the treatment.”

Denelda is now on a maintenance regimen of medications that she receives once every three months. Her response is closely monitored with special imaging, like PET/CT scans, once every three months to ensure the regimen continues to work.

For the past year, those scans have shown Denelda’s situation to be stable.

“I get no side effects from the maintenance treatment I’m on now, other than a little fatigue,” Denelda says. “I think that just goes with the territory, because I’m probably never going to be like my old self again.

“But that’s okay, because there’s a new me now, and that’s why I call Dr. Choksi my miracle worker. She is absolutely wonderful, and it’s not just because of the work she does clinically but because of how positive and encouraging she is.

“When I was first diagnosed with cancer, she said, You go on living your life and we’ll take care of this. To hear that meant so much, and now I can honestly say that Dr. Choksi is not just my doctor, she’s my friend.

“She’s someone I can turn to at any time with questions I might have. Having a good oncologist who really cares about you and helps to give you a positive outlook is so important.
“Thanks to her, I have a saying I tell everybody who asks me how I’m doing. I tell them, Yes, I have cancer. But cancer doesn’t have me.

Pink Eye? It Could Be the Coronavirus

April 24th, 2020

The most common symptoms of the coronavirus that has stopped the world in its tracks are fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. But doctors are finding that the respiratory disease known as COVID-19 can also cause an eye infection called conjunctivitis.

The discovery of conjunctivitis in COVID-19 patients is rare. As of mid-April, doctors believed that only 1 to 3 percent of all the people who could contract COVID-19 would also suffer from conjunctivitis, most likely during the middle phase of the illness.

According to one report in the Journal of Medical Virology, a study of 30 COVID-19 patients in China showed that only one had ocular secretions or tears containing SARS-CoV-2 RNA, which is the carrier of the coronavirus’s genetic information.

But another study detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch claimed that a third of the COVID-19 patients in that study had confirmed cases of conjunctivitis, a finding that has since been challenged.

Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is what develops when the clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid becomes inflamed. The result is red, itchy and swollen eyes, and while conjunctivitis is not a serious condition, it is highly contagious.

Children are highly susceptible to conjunctivitis, which is known to spread easily throughout schools and day care centers. However, having conjunctivitis alone does not mean a person also has COVID-19.

Though it can develop as a result of exposure to viruses, conjunctivitis can also be caused by exposure to certain bacteria as well as more common irritants such as shampoo, dirt, smoke, pool chlorine and eye drops.

Though it’s best to be treated for conjunctivitis by an ophthalmologist, home remedies such as warm compresses and over-the-counter medicines can treat its symptoms. No matter the approach, it usually takes about two weeks for conjunctivitis to disappear.

During that healing period, several steps can be taken to expedite the healing process and protect your eyes from further damage. For example, if you wear contact lenses, wear glasses instead until the conjunctivitis is completely healed.

And don’t rub your eyes. Granted, that’s easier said than done, but treating your itchy eyes with moistening drops or dabbing them with a tissue and immediately throwing the tissue away can help you avoid spreading the condition.

Because conjunctivitis is highly contagious, it can be transmitted by the hands just as the coronavirus can, so washing your hands regularly and avoiding handshakes is another way to avoid spreading the infection.

Preventive Maintenance

Simplified data collection system reduces chances of relapse.

Like so many others, Pamela* moved to Florida a few years ago largely to escape the brutal winters she experienced during 28 years of living outside of Detroit. But it really wasn’t the cold and snow she sought relief from.

“I actually like the cold weather,” Pamela, 32, reveals. “And as far as I’m concerned, there aren’t too many things more beautiful in this world than a bright sunny morning after a good snowfall the night before. There’s something very serene about that.

“Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough of those days up there. For whatever reason, it always seemed to me like it was 42 degrees and drizzling back home, and that can make for a very gray and dreary day. Those dreary days affected me in a bad way.”

Having fought with depression since she was in her late teens, Pamela found it hard to feel and function normally on such days. That’s why she made the move to Florida, a move she says has helped immensely in her battle.

“I’ve been here for about four years now, and there is no question that I’ve had fewer depressive episodes,” Pamela says. “I’m sure the weather has something to do with that. But I think I owe it more to Dr. Pollack than anyone or anything else.”

Robert Pollack, MD, is the founder of Psychiatric Associates of Southwest Florida, where he uses an array of emerging therapies such as ketamine, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and theta-burst stimulation (TBS) in his treatment of depression.

Those advanced treatments are used primarily in the fight against treatment-resistant depression, a condition in which depressed patients fail to respond to standard treatments such as antidepressants and psychological counseling.

Whether they’re used alone or in conjunction with one another, ketamine, TMS and TBS have all proven effective, and while Pamela is among those who have benefitted from the therapies, she is also among those who have suffered occasional relapses.

A Valuable Tool

In an effort to reduce relapses, Dr. Pollack recently altered the system that has long been used to monitor patients’ moods by making it easier for patients such as Pamela to access a standard psychological survey tool. That tool is called the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, or PHQ-9. It is a self-administered nine-question screening that allows physicians to measure their patients’ mood and stability. The lower the score the better.

“When we review these tests, we’re looking for an increase in score,” Dr. Pollack says. “That tells us there is something going on that may need to be addressed. And by addressing it, we’re usually talking about giving the patient a booster treatment.

The PHQ-9 only takes a few minutes to complete, and physicians recommend patients take it every two weeks. For years, patients have been asked to take the test at the doctor’s office or respond at home and return by mail, fax or email. However, Dr. Pollack and other psychiatrists discovered these methods were major deterrents with serious consequences.

“The PHQ-9 is a good way to follow people and prevent serious relapses, but the patient needs to be honest and consistent about sending the test back in,” Dr. Pollack explains.

“For someone like me who has been fighting depression almost all my life, this is a potentially life-saving tool.” – Pamela

“Pamela is a good example of what can happen if someone isn’t taking the test and being monitored regularly. When she first came to us, we gave her six treatments of ketamine, after which she was doing very well. We then followed up with her each month for the next three months, and again, she was doing very well. We asked her to do the PHQ-9 test every two weeks. After a while she stopped sending the tests in, which prompted a phone call.

“When we talked with her, we found out she was not doing well. Pamela’s desire to be with friends had begun to wane a bit, she lost focus at work and spent almost an entire weekend in bed at home, sheltered from the outside world.

“We had her come in, and this time, when she took the PHQ-9, the result was a significant jump in score.

“She had really gone downhill, and we needed to give her two boosters to get her back to where she was. Had she been staying in touch with us, we could have caught this decline earlier and she might have only needed one booster session, if that.”

More Accessible PHQ-9

Pamela’s decline and that of a few others is what prompted Dr. Pollack to make the changes in the PHQ-9 system. The changes were designed to make the PHQ-9 more accessible, which he achieved by making the test available on his website.

Now, patients can simply go to, fill out the PHQ-9 form and submit it. Dr. Pollack is hoping the convenience will encourage greater compliance, which can allow him to catch relapses before it’s too late.

“We’ve tried to simplify the process to the point where all someone needs to do is go to our website, fill out the form, hit the button and we have that data,”
Dr. Pollack says. “And that data is so very important. It has strong clinical implications.

“As you can see with someone like Pamela, if she had been filling out the form regularly and providing us with that data, we could have saved her a lot of grief, because we would have caught on much earlier that she was beginning to struggle again.

“Catching that kind of change early is a critical aspect to treating depression, because the more episodes you have, the worse your depression becomes. And the worse the depression becomes, the harder it is to treat.”

Pamela is now filling out the PHQ-9 form regularly, every two weeks as recommended, even when she doesn’t feel a need to because she feels stable and content. She says the habit will ensure she doesn’t have the kind of relapse she already experienced.

“The test takes no time at all to complete, and now there’s no excuse not to take it, because all you do to submit the results is hit a button on your computer keyboard,” she says. “It can’t be any easier.

“For someone like me, who has been fighting depression almost all my life, this is a potentially life-saving tool, and the fact that Dr. Pollack has made it so easy to use just speaks to how much he cares and what kind of physician he is.”

*Patient’s name withheld at her request.

This is Ideal

Customized weight-loss program improves health, wellness.

If Ernest Hemingway wrote it, Kimberly Hogan has read it. Along with Edith Wharton (Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence), Hemingway is one of Kimberly’s favorite authors, and she spends a little bit of time with one of them each morning.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Kimberly has lost more than 45 pounds on the Ideal Protein program

“Other people may sit and watch TV or whatever, but the first thing I do each morning before I get ready for work is have a cup of hot tea and sit and read for just a little bit,” Kimberly notes. “It calms me and gets me ready for the day.”

A nurse practitioner who works in primary care and sees close to 20 patients a day, Kimberly can have long and arduous days. Still, in addition to reading, she usually manages to squeeze a bit of swimming and/or walking into each day.

Despite her devotion to regular exercise, Kimberly, 62, has struggled for years to keep her weight in check. She says she first started putting on a few extra pounds after she gave birth to her children, and fad diets have never worked for her.

“The issue I’ve had with so many diet plans is that they’re fast fixes,” she says. “They have you taking diet pills to help you lose weight really fast, and so it’s that instant gratification thing.

“You lose a few pounds right away and you think the diet is working. But when you quit the diet pills, or you quit that particular diet, the weight comes back. I’ve done that before, and I know those fast fixes never work.”

Due in part to those fast-fix failures, Kimberly recently found herself approximately 80 pounds over what she considers her ideal weight. Oddly, it wasn’t until she sought help for an ankle sprain that she found a diet plan that actually worked for her.

“That’s what’s so ironic about this,” Kimberly says. “I was waiting to see the doctor about my ankle, and in his office I saw a copy of Florida Health Care News. Being in the health care field, I picked it up and started reading through it.

“As I was going through the paper, the article that really drew my attention was about a chef who had lost all this weight. I’ve been to that chef’s restaurant before, but in all the years I’ve lived in Cape Coral, I’d never heard of the diet plan he was on.

“I’m in the health care field, and I’ve lived in Cape Coral for 12 or 13 years and I’ve been a professor of nursing. Before I picked up that paper, I had never heard of this weight-loss plan. So, I decided to check it out.”

The plan Kimberly discovered by reading that article is called Ideal Protein®. It is a three-phase, ketogenic, lifestyle protocol that helps participants lose excess body fat and effectively improve their health and wellness while increasing vitality.

In the Fort Myers area, Ideal Protein is the weight-loss program recommended by Keith Susko, MD, a pain management and obesity medicine specialist at Pain Relief & Physical Rehab.

Complete, Effective Program

“Ideal Protein is such a complete and effective nutrition program that it has actually helped some patients reduce blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes medications they need to take,”
Dr. Susko explains.

“Some of those patients have been able to get off their medications entirely by sticking to this program, which helps them maintain their fat loss because it changes their eating habits and the way they look at food.

In addition to improving blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and reducing blood pressure, Ideal Protein also helps participants foster better appetite control to develop and maintain eating habits that become second nature.

Those goals are achieved through customized meal plans that help burn stored fat and preserve lean muscle by emphasizing high-quality proteins that are easily absorbed and by limiting the amount of sugars and dietary fats.

“Another thing I like about the program is that it acts as a natural appetite suppressant by increasing the fat-burning mechanism of the body, which suppresses the craving for additional carbohydrates,” Dr. Susko adds.

“That’s why it’s so easy for participants to stay on the program, because they’re not craving food and feeling hungry the way you do when you’re on a regular, high-
carbohydrate diet. And we help you through every phase of the program.

“You’re never going through this alone because we provide each participant with a personal Ideal Protein coach, who is specially trained to motivate patients and give them the help they need while offering suggestions for tasty, easy-to-prepare meals.”

Adapted from a fitness and nutrition program designed for Olympic athletes, Ideal Protein also helps participants preserve and sometimes increase muscle mass, which further fuels weight loss and helps to build added strength.

The program limits the intake of dairy, grains and some fruits, but to account for that, participants are encouraged to take a multivitamin as well as potassium, fish oil and calcium supplements to ensure they receive adequate amounts of minerals each day.

“The advantage you get from eliminating a lot of the dairy and grains from your diet is that you’re also eliminating some of the most inflammatory foods people tend to eat,”
Dr. Susko educates.

“I run a medical practice where I treat a lot of pain, and I’ve noticed that when my patients use the Ideal Protein program, their pain levels drop because they’ve reduced the systemic inflammation caused by some of the foods they’ve eliminated.

“Another advantage is that Ideal Protein helps patients decrease their gastroesophageal reflux and any medications they may be taking for that. It can also help with snoring or sleep apnea problems.

“That’s partly because fat loss in general helps with those things, but we notice that happens very quickly with people on the Ideal Protein program. In fact, within a week or two of starting the program, we start seeing all of these benefits.”

Participants in the Ideal Protein protocol are encouraged to exercise regularly, and to aid them in that endeavor, they are given access to fitness videos showing a variety of exercises that help them burn more calories.

“It’s always helpful to exercise when you’re in any type of diet program, and that includes Ideal Protein,” Dr. Susko explains. “But I started offering the Ideal Protein program because I had so many patients who simply could not exercise because they were in too much pain.

“I was looking for a way to help them lose weight because people tend to get heavier due to a lack of exercise. The beauty of Ideal Protein is that, if you can exercise, you’ll get faster results; but if you can’t, it’s still a medically sound way to control your weight.”

Life-Changing Results

Kimberly is proof of that. During her first 15 weeks on the program, she lost more than 45 pounds and a total of 33.5 inches across her body, including 14 inches across her hips, Dr. Susko reports. In addition, her body mass index, or BMI, fell 6.3 points.

“She used to need to leave her lab coat open at work, but now she can button it easily,” Dr. Susko says. “She’s also feeling more energetic, and that’s allowing her to do her job better and enjoy life more.”

The Ideal Protein program works so well that Kimberly even lost weight while on a five-day cruise. She originally feared she would gain weight while on the cruise, but by following Dr. Susko’s recommendations she easily lost weight.

“He told me, here’s what you’re going to do: You’re going to stay away from the breads and the desserts, eat proteins and take your supplements. And it worked,” Kimberly raves. “I lost about three pounds while on that cruise. Who does that?

“But that’s the wonder of this weight-loss program. It teaches you how to eat right, and I can say that I don’t miss the things I used to eat so much of, like cakes and pies and desserts. It’s a complete lifestyle change, and it has changed my life.

“That’s why I’m so grateful that I picked up Florida Health Care News that day in the doctor’s office and found Dr. Susko and Ideal Protein. It really works, and the coaches take so much interest in you. I feel blessed to have found them all, really blessed.”

Head to Toe

Unique care protocol alleviates disabling neck, shoulder and leg pain.

Any day spent playing golf is a good day. That’s the philosophy of Mary Mrozek, a 59-year-old insurance agent who resides in a golf community in Bonita Springs and happily lists golf as one of her and her husband’s greatest passions.

Photo courtesy of Mary Mrozek

“When a friend tells me about some kind of pain they’re having, I hand them a card and say, Go see Dr. Hunte.”
– Mary

“I love playing golf,” Mary says. “I absolutely love it.”

Mary’s love of golf is so great that, for a few years, she continued playing even while fighting through a great deal of neck, shoulder and leg pain. She finally had to give up that fight a couple years ago about midway through a round.

“It was October 2017, and my husband and I had played about eight holes,” Mary remembers. “At that point, I looked at my husband and said, I feel like I have knives stuck in my legs. I need to get off the course.

The leg pain that drove Mary from the golf course that day came as a result of the last in a series of incidents that started about 10 years ago when Mary damaged some discs in her neck while cleaning out a shed at her home.

The cervical damage was so great that it required fusion surgery on two cervical discs. But that surgery “never took,” says Mary, who had to have the surgery repeated after she reinjured her neck in a car accident three years later.

A third surgery to repair two more discs was performed six months after the accident, but none of those surgeries or the physical therapy she received in the wake of them alleviated her pain, which eventually moved into her shoulders and upper back.

“The pain was chronic,” Mary reports. “It was as though the nerves at the base of my head, and going down into my shoulders, were constantly aggravated. And I was always getting headaches from it. I went to a doctor for it, but it went on for years.

“Then a problem with my foot developed. It was a bunion on my right big toe. I had surgery for it, but the surgeon messed up the surgery so bad that there was no circulation going to the toe, so I had surgery again to save the toe.”

The second toe surgery was another fusion procedure designed to stabilize the toe. But that surgery prevented the toe from bending normally at the joint. Over time, that affected Mary’s gait, forcing her to more or less “waddle” from side to side.

Because her right foot did not bend normally, Mary subconsciously placed more pressure on her right side than her left while walking. That weakened her left leg significantly and eventually sparked a whole new pain issue with her right hip and lower back.

When that pain became disabling, Mary visited a doctor who discovered a fracture and arthritis in the hip. The discovery led to hip replacement surgery, but Mary’s recovery went so slowly that, after a few months, she was still in too much pain to walk, much less play golf.

“I couldn’t even walk to my pool, so I had to give up golf, and I was still getting headaches and feeling all that pain in my neck and shoulders,” Mary laments. “I hurt from head to toe so bad, I couldn’t work for three months. That’s when I went to see Dr. Hunte.”

Above and Beyond

Dr. Hunte is Bryan T. Hunte, DC. He is the proprietor of Advanced Spineworks in Bonita Springs, where he utilizes chiropractic care and goes a step further in caring for his patients by taking a “highly scientific approach” to rehabilitation.

“That’s what makes our facility unique,” Dr. Hunte says of his approach to care. “We don’t just stop at relieving pain. We also focus on the corrective phase of care using equipment that cannot be matched by traditional approaches.”

“The corrective phase of care is what restores the musculature around the injured area. When the musculature is restored, the patient experiences relief. I highly recommended it, even post surgically.

“Our equipment has a unique way of restoring this support even in the most severe of cases. Our goal is to create an independent patient who can enjoy the activities they had once given up.”

In seeking to correct Mary’s problems and make her independent, Dr. Hunte first performed a thorough evaluation. He concluded that evaluation by suggesting therapy using two advanced corrective devices, the MCU machine and the Eccentron.

Unique, Nonsurgical Device

The MCU, which stands for Multi-Cervical Unit, is a nonsurgical device that is able to diagnose specific weaknesses in the neck and get the patient back to normal strength by following a specific regimen.

The MCU creates this specified workout, which is designed around the test results, to restore all the weakness and imbalance that cannot be reproduced by traditional methods in physical therapy.

The Eccentron is a negative-resistance training device on which patients perform leg resistance exercises that improve their strength, balance and endurance. Like the MCU, it also assesses the patient’s progress throughout the course of the workout and provides objective data.

The Eccentron workout consists of 30 minutes of strength training, which provides up to 670 repetitions. The combination of repetitions and the thought that goes into playing a game on the Eccentron stimulates the atrophied muscles and reconnects it to the nervous system.

Using the MCU machine, Dr. Hunte tested the strength of Mary’s neck muscles. The results showed those muscles were too weak to properly support her head. A similar test on the Eccentron showed Mary’s left leg was far weaker than her right and that her legs could not support the weight of her body.

Based on the muscle deficiencies revealed through the testing, Dr. Hunte created two treatment regimens, one designed to strengthen the muscles in Mary’s neck using the MCU machine and another designed to strengthen her left leg using the Eccentron.

“The goal of the MCU machine is to get the muscles in the neck that are straining to hold the head up, into a more relaxed state, which was the cause of Mary’s neck and shoulder pain as well as her headaches,” Dr. Hunte educates.

“The goal of the Eccentron is very similar, and that goal is achieved by resistance exercises where you’re resisting these pedals that are coming at you”.

“When the muscles lengthen under tension, you gain strength faster than traditional weight training. The testing also reveals the weak side, and because we strengthen the legs independently of each other, symmetry is restored.

“In Mary’s case, her left side wasn’t doing its job, so we had to correct that and build up the strength to match what she had on the right side. Once that occurred, it improved the state of her lower back as well, which brought her great relief.”

Mary goes a step further and says she experienced “incredible relief” from her pain. She marvels at the fact that after several surgeries and hundreds of hours of physical therapy, she’s finally feeling better after only a few weeks of treatment at Advanced Spineworks.

“What amazes me most is that during all those years of seeing doctors and doing rehabilitation, no one ever tested me the way Dr. Hunte did,” Mary says. “And it was those tests that finally determined what the real problem was.

“The MCU and Eccentron targeted and strengthened the areas that needed to be strengthened, and it’s made a huge difference. My neck and shoulder pain and headaches are gone, and I’m walking upright again. I feel like I’m more centered now, more balanced.”

The treatments she received at Advanced Spineworks even have Mary playing golf again. She’s been away from the game for a while, so she’s still shaking off some rust, but she’s confident her treatments will allow her to regain her old form.

“Dr. Hunte rehabbed me in a way that was very comfortable and safe, so I knew I wasn’t going to reinjure myself or anything,” Mary says. “After all I’ve been through, that’s a big deal for me, and it’s one of the reasons I so highly recommend Advanced Spineworks.

“Anybody who is having any kind of issue with their neck or shoulders or back can benefit from him. That’s why I actually have some of his cards, and when a friend tells me about some kind of pain they’re having, I hand them a card and say, Go see Dr. Hunte.

Melbourne Retirement Community Embraces Virtual Normal

April 20th, 2020

With seniors among the most vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus, retirement communities are having to step up their efforts to keep residents safe. The real trick, though, lies in not just keeping residents safe but in maintaining a sense of normalcy within such communities.

One community that has managed to meet those two objectives is Hibiscus Court of Melbourne, where the new normal can best be described as a virtual normal. For example, in place of personal visits from family members, Hibiscus Court is conducting virtual visits using video conferencing software such as Zoom.

“We’ve all seen the viral posts of people meeting at windows, and we started with that, but we’ve actually found that it’s better for our residents and their families to have these meetings through Zoom,’’ says Charisse Durham, director of sales and marketing at Hibiscus Court of Melbourne.

“So what we’re doing is teaching the families how to use the Zoom technology, and once we’ve done that, we set up a Zoom meeting for them. During that visit, we are there with the resident to help them navigate through it or translate if they have any trouble hearing or seeing their family members. It’s working out really well.”

Another example of the new virtual normal at Hibiscus Court of Melbourne took place last week, when the community changed up its regular Rolling With Laughter event. When the Hibiscus comedy troupe, “Off Their Rockers” had to cancel its event, the community held a virtual Rolling with Laughter event.

“We accepted submissions from residents, family members, referral sources and care partners,” Charisse explains. “All of them sent in different jokes and we had several different showings for small groups where our programming director and residents presented the jokes.

“It went over very well, and for some of our residents who could not attend one of the showings, we went to their rooms and shared the jokes with them individually. We also printed some of the jokes that were short and sweet and took photos of our residents with the joke and a smile then posted them on our Facebook page to share them that way.”

One of the biggest challenges retirement communities now face comes at meal time, when residents typically gather en masse to dine and socialize. Social distancing guidelines prohibit such mass gatherings, however, so at Hibiscus Court of Melbourne, residents are now served the same meals they would receive in the dining room in their own suites or in small, adequately spaced common areas.

That said, socializing is not a thing of the past at Hibiscus Court of Melbourne. Just as it did with its comedy show, the community now conducts several exercise and activity periods each day where small groups of six residents gather and participate while maintaining a safe social distance from one another.

“Another thing we did recently was hold a virtual 99th birthday party for one of our residents,’’ Charisse explains. “We also had a no-contact pet parade, where local participants came and walked their dogs around our parking lot and we let our residents know so they could watch from their rooms or at a safe distance.”

It’s not just the residents of Hibiscus Court of Melbourne who are getting special attention during these difficult times. The community’s staff members, who are working extra hard each day to ensure residents are safe and comfortable, have not been forgotten.

“We’ve had families provide lunch for the entire team; other families have sent gourmet caramel apples or bulk boxes of treats,” Charisse reports. “They know our team works tirelessly to provide the best care for their loved ones. Many families’ have taken the opportunity to say thank you. Even though we’re not in a hospital or skilled setting, we are providing health care and life care and many are working additional hours and occasionally double shifts.

“Our leadership team is also committed to thanking our direct caregivers daily with some item of appreciation. Somebody every day is doing something to say thank you to our team, because they know that we’re here trying to protect people and that our care team also has to take additional measures to protect themselves and their families when they leave, because they can’t bring the virus back into our community.

“It’s a difficult time for everyone but everyone is pitching in and doing what they can to help each other out. The dedication to our residents’ care and the creativity in that is truly remarkable. I’m inspired every day.”

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