While in Neurology residency at University of Florida, I was fortunate to be exposed to a wide range of academic clinics and academic clinicians. I had many outstanding mentors and took away pieces and snippets from each of them, eventually developing my own sense of what constitutes excellent patient care. One clinic in particular left a huge impression on me – the Dementia clinic run by Dr. Kenneth Heilman. Patients were evaluated in a comprehensive manner, by a team made up of different specialists from widely different fields that all had some bearing on one patient or another. After exhaustive consideration, patients left at the end of the visit with a plan that addressed all aspects of their lives, including medicines, medicine interactions, lifestyle adjustments, caregiver interactions, rehabilitation options, prognosis, marital counseling, genetic counseling, and further diagnostic testing when appropriate. The end result was a satisfying experience for the patient and their family, with some real answers to questions, many of which they did not realize needed to be asked.
After moving to Sarasota in 2002, I realized that there was a large population of people with PD who were “underserved.” By that, I mean that they were getting adequate advice for the most part about medications, but the “elephant in the room” that was being ignored was the other, non-pharmaceutical, aspects of care that, in fact, often have more impact than the drugs. After years of diligent effort and attention, and with help from colleagues and friends, The Southeastern Center for Parkinson Disease became a reality. Originally intended to serve patients in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, our reputation for excellent, personalized and comprehensive care has grown in leaps and bounds. Today, we draw patients from all over Florida, New England, the MidWest, and the South, as well as from the Caribbean. The dream of creating a comprehensive Parkinson Disease center outside of a university environment has become a reality. More important, the wonderful patients that we see are being well-served in all aspects of their lives.