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SRQ DAILY May 20, 2020

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

"By providing meals, we are giving some much-needed encouragement to frontline workers who are taking care of our seniors who are unable to have visitors during the COVID-19 crisis."

- Karen Atwood, Mellow Mushroom Sarasota Store Owner.

[Restaurants]  Mellow Mushroom Launches A Pie For A Pie Giving Back Initiative to Feed Assisted Living and Frontline Workers
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

Ever wish you could get a pizza that keeps on giving? Well this Thursday, May 21, the more pizza pies Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers sells, the more it will give away to local charities and frontline workers throughout the region. 

Inspired by her retired healthcare neighbors, Atwood was one of the first restaurant owners to respond by donating meals to healthcare workers and the elderly most at risk when COVID-19 began to more seriously unfold in March. And in April, the Mellow Mushroom team was able to feed Sarasota Memorial Hospital with 42 pizzas and salads for lunch and dinner.

Now, the restaurant group is launching a new “A Pie for A Pie” community giving program. For every stone-baked pie sold (dining-in or take-out), the Mellow Mushroom Sarasota store owner, Karen Atwood, will match and donate to feed the staff at local assisted living centers including the Brookdale Senior Living Community and The Pines Nursing Home.  

“We are so excited about A Pie For A Pie day and being able to feed the staff at assisted living centers,” she says. “By providing meals, we are giving some much-needed encouragement to frontline workers in the Med-Tech, Nursing, Housekeeping, and Maintenance departments that are taking care of our seniors who are unable to have visitors during the Covid-19 crisis.”

Having partnered with Feed the Front- Manasota, a newly-founded nonprofit created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Atwood will be donating the pizzas through them. The charity is run by local senior care providers, led by Christina Oickle, and ensures healthcare workers in rehabs, hospitals and nursing homes are fed and made to feel special. Food can come from restaurants spanning the Bradenton area, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch. “We are looking to support local mom and pop restaurants in our areas—putting orders in for 25-75 healthcare works per meal or treat.”

If interested in donating funds or nominating another front line team/organization to help and feed, head to Suncoast Pizza Bakers.  You can nominate a firehouse, police station, hospital, grocery store or your own team. 

To pre-order a pizza for ‘A Pie for a Pie’ call 941-388-7504, Mellow Mushroom Sarasota, or email sarasota_fl@mellowmushroominfo.com 

Photo courtesy of Mellow Mushroom Sarasota

[Giving Back]  Asolo Rep Awarded $70,000 from Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Asolo Repertory Theatre has been awarded an additional $70,000 Arts Appreciation Grant from Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The grant is intended to help the theatre fulfill its mission during the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This generous support will help us create a bridge between this curtailed season and the creation of a successful season next year,” said Asolo Rep managing director Linda DiGabriele. “We are very grateful for the timeliness of this generous gift and the foundation’s ongoing support.” GCCF President and CEO Dr. Mark S. Pritchett and Jon Thaxton, Senior Vice President for Community Investment, informed Asolo Rep leadership of the award on April 22. “Our Board appreciates the vital role your organization plays in our region’s cultural life and economy,” said Thaxton in a statement to Asolo Rep representatives. “We encourage you to utilize this grant to further energize your donor base at a time when their support is needed most.” On March 19, following the guidelines of public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Asolo Rep leadership suspended the remainder of its 2019-2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The season was originally scheduled to run through June 28, and more than 100 performances were cancelled, including productions of The Great Leap, Hood, and Snow White, and the world premiere of the musical Knoxville from Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Frank Galati. Hood and Knoxville will now be presented as part of the theatre’s 2020-2021 season. Asolo Rep ticket holders were encouraged to convert the price of their tickets to a full, tax-deductible donation to Asolo Rep. Added DiGabriele, “Gulf Coast’s faith in Asolo Rep and our community will inspire others to follow their lead and help make it possible for us to do what we do best: present theatre that builds connections and strengthens our bonds to one another, inspires empathy and understanding, and brings us moments of magic and wonder.”


[The Florida Center Creates Free Resources to Help ]  The Florida Center Creates Free Resources to Help People Manage the Stress of Covid-19

The Florida Center has released a series of free videos and webinars during the month of May, (National Mental Health Awareness Month), that offer strategies to overcome stress and promote positive mental health during the Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic required The Florida Center to create innovative ways to continue providing life-changing services to children and families. Prioritizing safety above all else, the organization immediately began using secure video, internet and telephone tools to help families at a time of their greatest need! From webinars, to online support groups, to virtual classrooms, to one-on-one therapy sessions, the staff at The Florida Center has continued to provide the highest quality of care for their clients.

Most recently, the organization expanded its Florida Center Training Institute to reach beyond its clients to parents, caregivers and front line workers anywhere in the world through a series of free webinars. The webinar series can be viewed at https://www.floridacentertraining.org/videos. Registration is currently open for the next two-part webinar, Survival Parenting During Covid-19, which will take place take place May 19 and 20 from 1-2 pm. The Florida Center also released a series of short videos created by its school-based mental health therapists. The therapists normally see elementary-aged clients at 18 Sarasota County schools in offices located on school campus. However, the new series “Quarantine Tips for Parents” can be utilized by any viewer and focuses on managing stress in children through a variety of activities, exercises and mindfulness practices. The video playlist is available on Youtube channel.

“We had such a great response to our adapted services that we decided to create materials accessible to ALL parents, not just clients of The Florida Center.” said CEO Kathryn Shea. “Right now families are going through a lot and they need help dealing with the stress and anxiety Covid-19 has caused. Any parent can access these videos, created by licensed mental health therapists, simply by following us on social media. “ 

[Scholarships]  Local Scholarships Strengthen Nursing Workforce

With increased support from area foundations, the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC) announced today that it has more than doubled the number of nursing education scholarships it is awarding to local recipients this spring. SNAC awarded 44 scholarships totaling $110,000 to nursing students and working nurses pursuing Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees and three scholarships totaling $48,000 to nurses pursuing doctoral degrees. All of the recipients live or work in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Desoto counties. The annual scholarships are part of SNAC’s multi-pronged action plan to strengthen the region’s nursing workforce by boosting the number of BSN-prepared nurses and the doctorate-level nursing instructors needed to teach them. “Never in my 45-year nursing career has the value – and vulnerability – of nursing been so clearly brought into focus,” said Jan Mauck, who co-founded and has been leading SNAC’s advocacy efforts since retiring as chief nursing officer at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in 2016. “This pandemic has compelled nurses at all levels to take on new and expanded leadership roles, collaborating in ways they never had to before, as they tried to solve problems you would never expect in our nation’s well-equipped health care system. Since 2016, SNAC has awarded $422,000 in nursing scholarships to 119 local recipients (including those awarded today). The scholarships were created to encourage more nurses to obtain their bachelor’s and higher degrees. A BSN nurse’s education includes an extra year and a half of in-depth training in social sciences, management, research, public and community health, and leadership.

SNAC scholarships are administered by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and Manatee Community Foundation. Other supporting foundations include: The Patterson Foundation, Burruss Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, Lela D. Jackson Foundation, Janice S. Kelly Memorial Foundation, Rita B. Lamere Memorial Foundation, and Sarah Greer Mayer Fund of the Community Foundation, Charlotte Community Foundation, and CareerEdge. 

[Scholarships]  Comcast Awards $10,000 in Scholarships to Sarasota High School Seniors

Comcast today announced it has awarded $10,000 in scholarships for the 2020-2021 school year to four Sarasota students as part of its annual Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Program. These students are among 90 from across Florida who are receiving a total of $225,000 in Leaders and Achievers scholarships this year. Students are selected for their outstanding community service, academic performance, and leadership skills. The award, funded by the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation, is a one-time, $2,500 scholarship to be used toward undergraduate education-related expenses. Since 2001, about $33 million has been awarded to about 30,000 high school seniors across the country as part of the Leaders and Achievers program.

“We are honored to recognize the amazing achievements of our Leaders and Achievers scholarship winners and to help them further their education,” said Jen Boyett, Senior Manager of External Affairs and Community Impact for Comcast in Southwest Florida. “These students are top achievers in academics and leaders in their communities and among their peers. They represent our future, and Comcast is proud to support them.” The Sarasota scholarship recipients are planning to enroll in some of the top colleges and universities around the state and the country, including Florida State University, Princeton University, University of Notre Dame and Vanderbilt University. The Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program recognizes high school seniors for their community service, academic performance, and leadership skills. These scholarships are provided to give young people the opportunity to continue their education to better compete in tomorrow’s workplace. Applicants to the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program must demonstrate academic excellence, commitment to community service, and outstanding qualities in character, integrity, and leadership. 

Click for more info.

[Season Announcement]  Sarasota Opera's Winter Opera Festival Opens with Tosca

Next season's Winter Opera Festival opens with one of Puccini's most beloved operas—Tosca. The story of the jealous diva who battles the lecherous chief of police Baron Scarpia has entranced opera lovers for more than a century. Since its premiere in Rome, January 14, 1900, the role of Floria Tosca has been a favorite of some of the greatest sopranos of all time. Enjoy Renata Tebaldi's performance of Tosca's prayer/lament, "Vissi d'arte".


Click to enjoy Renata Tebaldi's performance of Tosca's prayer/lament,

[Recognition]  The Players Centre for Performing Arts Reaches GuideStar’s Highest Seal of Transparency

The Players Centre for Performing Arts has earned the 2020 Platinum Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, a service of Candid. The Players Centre is sharing metrics that highlight the progress it has made toward its mission through GuideStar, helping donors move beyond traditional ways of nonprofit evaluation and achieve a greater understanding of its impact. 

"In alignment with our strategic plan and vision for our future,” said Morgan Gerhart, Advancement Director, “we are excited to convey our organization’s results in a user-friendly, accessible, and highly visual manner. By updating our GuideStar Nonprofit Profile to the Platinum level, we can now easily share a wealth of up-to-date organizational metrics with our supporters as well as GuideStar's immense online audience, which includes donors, grant makers, our peers, and the media."

To reach the Platinum level, The Players Centre for Performing Arts added extensive information to its Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar: basic contact and organizational information; in-depth financial information; qualitative information about goals, strategies, and capabilities; and quantitative information about results and progress toward its mission. By taking the time to provide this information, The Players Centre has demonstrated its commitment to transparency and to giving donors and funders meaningful data to evaluate nonprofit performance. 

As a community theatre, there are common misconceptions about our mission and the impact we have. So much of our work truly goes on ‘behind the scenes.’ Through the GuideStar process, we are better able to provide a more in-depth picture of our organization and share not only the outcomes we track but the human stories behind them.

“I encourage you to visit our profile on GuideStar to see what we're all about," added Gerhart. “We’re thrilled that our GuideStar Platinum Nonprofit Profile and its associated benefits help us better communicate our organization’s exciting initiatives to a wider audience." 

Only 10,000 organizations have reached this level nationwide, those include such nonprofits as March of Dimes, Goodwill, Girls Inc. Audubon and Charity: Water. 

For more on Guidestar.

[Virtual Concert]  Choral Artists of Sarasota Will Feature a Virtual July 4th American Fanfare Concert

For the last 15 years, Choral Artists of Sarasota has honored Independence Day with a concert of rousing songs celebrating the United States. The choral group will continue that tradition this July 4—with a twist. To ensure the safety of its singers and audience, the concert will be virtual. According to Artistic Director Joseph Holt, this year’s concert will feature highlights of previous Independence Day celebrations—and be streamed over various platforms, including Facebook and YouTube. “Audiences should prepare to tune in and sing along on July 4,” he says. “We’ll be safe, and we’ll be celebrating.” Holt explains that Choral Artists’ July 4th concert “has been a vital part of our community’s celebration of Independence Day for the past 15 years. These concerts featured musical pieces that form the heart and soul of our collective national sense of pride and patriotism. For all these years, Choral Artists has celebrated, through music, the thread of ‘liberty and justice for all’ that characterizes our nation.” He adds that, last year, Choral Artists moved the concert to the Sarasota Opera House due to popular demand. It also partnered with the Sarasota Concert Band last year to present a “musical tradition that is as American as hot dogs, apple pie and fireworks.”

Original plans for the live performance of “American Fanfare” were to include patriotic music composed by female composers. The narration, provided by an actor from Florida Studio Theater, was to highlight the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s constitutional right to vote. This was to be part of FST’s “The Suffragist Project.” Rousing marches by Sousa, performed by the Sarasota Concert Band, and traditional American anthems celebrating independence and freedom rounded out the program. Holt says the July 4th video will instead feature hits from the past years, including such patriotic standards as George M. Cohan's "You’re a Grand Old Flag," John Philip Sousa's "Star and Stripes Forever," Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” Other works might include a setting of the Gettysburg Address by Mark Hayes, a traditional Bach chorale with words by Pete Seeger set in the 60s, and an unusual pairing of “My Country Tis of Thee” with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” arranged by Moses Hogan.

“We’re working on the details now and will share those soon,” says Holt. “The most important thing is that we will carry on a beloved tradition with songs that express love of country. When you’re in love, you want to sing. And you’ll feel that love when you hear the Choral Artists sing songs from the heart about the land we love and honor." 

Click for more info.

[Commercial Real Estate]  Avison Young Represents Kimco Realty in 10,500 SF, New-to-market Retail Lease with World’s Largest Swim School Franchise

Avison Young negotiated a new-to-market 10,500-square-foot lease at Tuttlebee Plaza at 3700 S. Tuttle Ave. in Sarasota, Florida, on behalf of the landlord, Kimco Realty Corporation. The new lease marks the first Southwest Florida location for Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, the world’s largest swim school franchise which serves over 100 communities in 14 countries.  The landlord representation team was led by Avison Young Senior Vice Presidents Nick Robinson, Jason Hurst, and Gavin Johnson. “The Tuttlebee Plaza shopping center offers its tenants a prime location within Sarasota’s central, most densely populated trade area,” said Robinson. 

The Tuttlebee Plaza is conveniently located between downtown Sarasota and the Palmer Ranch area, serving over 80,000 households within a 5-mile radius with an average household income of $86,000. Anchored by TJ Maxx and YouFit, the shopping center features superb visibility and easy access via Bee Ridge Road and Tuttle Avenue. The center also offers a total combined traffic count of over 50,000 cars per day. “There is an immense need for children, particularly in Florida, to learn how to remain safe in and around water,” said Lindsay Leary, who co-owns Aqua-Tots Swim Schools in Sarasota with her husband David. “Aqua-Tots has been the leader in the swim instruction industry since 1991, and we are thrilled to serve the Sarasota community with quality swim lessons and water safety education.” Kyle Mahoney and Jim Kovacs of Colliers International Tampa Bay and Mike Kumelski of NAI Horizon represented the tenant in the transaction. 

[Opening]  The Cameron, London Bay Homes’ Newest Luxury Estate Model in The Founders Club Opens for Viewing

Located within Sarasota’s premier golf club community, the Cameron is situated on almost half an acre, with views of the tranquil nature preserve and the community’s Robert Trent Jones, Jr.- designed championship golf course. Enhanced styling elevates the estate’s fresh, coastal-inspired architecture and design, with details like white lap siding, hipped roofs with flat tiles, and a repeating trio of windows adding visual interest. The Cameron’s 3,092 square feet of living space features a clean lined, open design that blends the great room, dining room and a gourmet-inspired kitchen with a large freestanding quartz-topped island. A full pantry, furniture-detailed cabinetry, and trim detailing enrich the kitchen design, along with sleek stainless appliances and a cabinet-concealed hood over the six-burner cooktop. The estate’s outdoor living area combines a full kitchen, custom-designed pool and spa, and lush landscaping to create an entertaining oasis.

The Cameron’s master suite features private French door access to the pool terrace, a pair of oversized walk-in closets, and a grand bath with dual vanities and a show-stopping soaking tub positioned before a dual-entry Roman shower. With plenty of space to accommodate a larger family or visiting guests, two additional ensuite bedrooms feature walk-in closets, while an oversized study off the great room is the ideal home office. The Cameron’s three-car garage leads to a separate owner’s entry and laundry room, providing a convenient connection from the outdoors. With designed features and finishes selected by the award-winning Romanza Interior Design, the Cameron awaits furnishings that reflect the personality and preferences of the homebuyer. Located at 8841 Colonels Court, the Cameron is offered at $1,499,400. 

Pictured: A gourmet-inspired kitchen features a large freestanding quartz-topped island, a full pantry, and furniture-detailed cabinetry.

Click for a 360-degree virtual tour of the Cameron.

[Photo Contest]  Conservation Foundation's Virtual Summer Photo Contest

Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast and presenting sponsor Elizabeth Moore invite photographers of all ages and experience levels to enter their original work in Conservation Foundation’s inaugural Summer Photo Contest. If you love nature, the outdoors, and taking photos - this is the photo contest for you! In light of the global pandemic and the need to stay safe at home, the exhibition will be entirely virtual with website and Facebook displays.

Works submitted for this online juried exhibition should showcase the beauty of Florida’s natural lands and reflect one of four categories – In Love with the Land, The Wonder of Water, Backyard Beauty, and Up Close and Personal. There is also a Youth Perspective category specifically for photographers age 15 and under.

Jurors include presenting sponsor, Elizabeth Moore; noted photographer, Cliff Roles; noted photographer, Stephen B. White; and executive director of Art Center Sarasota, Lisa Berger.

Up to three photographs may be submitted per person and must be received via email no later than midnight on May 31. Jurors will review all submissions and select 10 per category for display in online galleries on the Conservation Foundation website as well as the Conservation Foundation Facebook page.

The virtual competition will award prizes to category winners as selected by the jury as well as People’s Choice winners determined by popular vote on Facebook.  

Click here for details on the contest.

[Landscaping]  Fertilizer Restricted Season Returns June 1

Sarasota County reminds the community to skip using nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers on lawns and landscapes from June 1 through Sept. 30, as part of an effort to keep the community's waterways healthy. Enacted in 2007, the fertilizer restriction ordinance reduces the nutrients in stormwater and helps to protect natural habitats in area waterways that receive runoff from our stormwater system. According to Sarasota County Air and Water Quality Supervisor John Morgan, the frequency and amount of rain we experience during the summer months causes fertilizer to be washed away before it can be absorbed into the landscape. The nutrients found in fertilizer, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, add to what is already a nutrient rich environment in our local water bodies. Excessive nutrients contribute to algae blooms, diminish water quality and threaten aquatic life.

"Using proper landscape maintenance techniques can help us maintain healthy waterways," Morgan said, adding, "This is truly a community effort, one that impacts beaches, estuaries and more. By working together, we can protect this beautiful place we call home." Familiarizing yourself with the regulations is important if you are doing your own lawn care or hiring a trained lawn care professional. The following tips will help keep your yard looking great during the summer: 

— Use only fertilizers with zero nitrogen and zero phosphorous.
— Apply iron, found at most garden centers, as an effective and environmentally friendly alternative to keep lawns green during the summer.
— Use compost to enrich the soil.
— Buy plants adapted to Florida's hot and humid climate.
— Mow higher to encourage deep roots that resist fungus and pests.
— Make sure grass clippings are swept or blown back into the yard, or recycled in a compost pile. Do not allow grass clippings to be washed into storm drains.
— If you're using a lawn care service or contractor, take a few minutes to talk with them about these  tips, along with fertilizer restricted season.
— Adhere to watering restrictions; even-numbered addresses water only on Tuesday and odd-numbered addresses water only on Thursdays.
— Remember irrigation is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, learn more about water restriction here. 

Learn more about air and water quality.

[Best of SRQ]  Celebrating the Best Florist of 2020

Roses are red, violets are blue and these winners are the Best Of SRQ! Our Platinum Best of SRQ Local winner BENEVA FLOWERS bloomed to the top spot, while our Gold winner VICTORIA BLOOMS has just the name for the job. If you can be-leaf it, there was a tie for Silver with BEE RIDGE FLORIST and FLOWERS BY FUDGIE. Lastly, our readers went wild-flowers about Bronze winner, and newbie to our list, TIGER LILY. 

Image: Best of SRQ Local 2019 feature

Read more from the Best of SRQ 2020 Competition HERE

[Re-Openings]  Bobby Jones Golf Club Nature Trails Reopen

The Bobby Jones Golf Club, 1000 Circus Blvd., will be reopening its cart paths on Saturday, May 23, 2020, for public use. Gates open at 6 am for walking, running, bicycling, photography, and wildlife observation. Gates will be locked promptly at 6 pm. All paths and restrooms on the American & British Courses will be available. Water stations will not be present at this time so please bring your own water or purchase drinks from the on-site restaurant. Course Rangers will be monitoring the paths and golf course. “G’s” Southern Kitchen, the on-site restaurant, offers a delicious to-go menu, concessions, and beverages. The Club House is closed except for the restaurant’s walk-up window on the north side of the building. Prohibited activities include fishing, golfing, motorized vehicles, picnicking, pick-up sports, drones, and kite flying. All guests are welcome to enjoy the trails at no cost at their own risk. When visiting please follow CDC Guidelines such as social distancing, limit large gatherings (no more than 10 people) and staying at home if you are sick. 

Click here for the CDC guidelines.

[Re-Openings]  Manatee County Commissioners Approve Sending Vacation Reopening Plan to State Leaders

Manatee County Commissioners today unanimously approved sending a plan to allow local vacation rentals to resume operations to the state leaders for final review and approval.

Under the plan, vacation rental agencies may accept bookings from residents of U.S. states with an overall COVID-19 Case Rate within the state of less than 700 cases/100K residents as of May 15, 2020. Reservations from COVID-19 hot spots identified by the Governor are to be avoided for the next 30- 45 days. Reservations from international travelers will not be accepted.

Other guidelines spell out protocols vacation rental owners must follow to implement social distancing and still others that address the cleanliness standards of the property. County Administrator Cheri Coryea said the guidelines will be mostly self policing but if people spot potential violations they can report them as with other violations during the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year. To report a potential violation of state or local emergency orders in unincorporated Manatee County, call: Code Enforcement: (941) 748-2071 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) or the Sheriff's Office non-emergency line: (941) 747-3011, ext. 2260 (evenings and weekends).

"We have ability to write citations or to issue a notice to appear, but we are hoping that, just like re-opening our public beaches, that vacation rental owners and visitors will abide by these guidelines," Coryea said. "We are asking for reasonable protocols that will allow our local businesses to begin operating again and that will safely open our community to visitors again."

The guidelines will be sent to the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) for review before being sent to the Governor's Office for final review. Coryea has asked for additional insight and guidance from DBPR on how the guidelines will apply inside Manatee County's municipalities.

Manatee County's guidelines, drafted over the past 48 hours, were drafted with input from tourism leaders at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, DBPR guidelines and examples from surrounding counties. County Commissioners discussed the plan after the latest weekly COVID-19 report from the County Administrator.

During the COVID-19 update, Cheri Coryea and Public Safety Director Jacob Saur noted that the positive rate of local COVID-19 cases has dropped significantly in recent weeks. Today Manatee County stands at a 8.1 percent rate of positive cases among those who are tested. Two weeks ago the number stood at more than 14 percent, giving Manatee County one of the state's rates of the coronavirus. Coryea said quick decline of local infection rates is a strong sign that a huge influx of local testing has given local officials a more clear picture of the coronavirus in Manatee County.

Feedback from state officials will be added to the County's guidelines before publishing to the local vacation rental industry. Or, if Manatee County receives swift approval similar to Escambia County, the government will similarly notify the public and vacation rental owners. 

For more info.

[Health]  Cancer Patients Report High Satisfaction with Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

Despite the many challenges of the current health care crisis, patients of  Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) report high satisfaction with the oncology provider’s response and efforts to provide care safely, and with little or no disruption.  In a survey of over 3,000 patients, conducted earlier this month by an outside organization following their most recent visits, 96% said they were very satisfied with the responsiveness they have received from FCS throughout the pandemic. Cancer patients can be one of the most vulnerable populations, due to compromised immune systems from chemotherapy and other underlying health issues.

FCS CEO Brad Prechtl, MBA said, “We are pleased to learn that our patients are highly satisfied with our response to this unprecedented pandemic.”  

“Our patients have conveyed that the availability of Telehealth services at all FCS locations has had a significant positive impact,” said FCS President & Managing Physician Dr. Lucio Gordan.  “To date, FCS has logged more than 16,000 virtual visits and the number continues to increase.” Whenever possible, patients are connecting with their physician, advanced practice provider, nurses, social worker and oncology dieticians securely and conveniently from home. Patients are receiving laboratory results, reviewing treatment plans and accessing vital care management support while mitigating the impact and spread of COVID-19.  

"In addition, our team of cancer experts have enacted stringent procedures and safeguards for patients and staff in accordance with CDC guidelines,” Dr. Gordan said.  These include restricting visitors in the clinics, screening all patients and staff members as they enter and leave the clinic, requiring mandatory masks for all staff members, practicing social distancing, following strict infection control procedures such as continuously sanitizing the clinics throughout the day, with rigorous cleaning after hours.

Dr. Gordan noted that Rx To Go, the FCS in-house specialty pharmacy, is continuing to dispense oral oncolytic medications with timely delivery directly to patients’ homes; the FCS central laboratory, pathology laboratory and clinical research operations remain open and available to support patients.

“Because the pandemic has impacted so many aspects of our patients’ lives, the FCS Care Management team maintains a robust database of resources and community-based services, such as housing and assisted living, nutrition and food support, respite care, financial assistance and transportation services,” said Dr. Gordan.  “Many of these supports have been especially helpful for patients at this time. 

Click for more.

[Manatee Memorial Hospital Expands Visitation Guide]  Manatee Memorial Hospital Expands Visitation Guidelines

Expanded visitation is now in place at Manatee Memorial Hospital, starting today. ER and surgical/procedural areas staff will now allow patients one visitor, age 18 and older to accompany patients upon arrival. All exception visitors are subject to screening upon arrival at the hospital. All will be required to wear a mask and use hand-sanitizing gel upon entering the facility as well as entering and exiting a patient room. The one visitor will be limited to a specific room. These additional visitation exceptions were added to the exceptions the hospital established on March 18. Those areas included OB/Neonatal, special needs patients and compassionate care/end-of-life situations. At this time, visitors are not permitted on the Inpatient Nursing Units or rooms. We encourage family/friends to continue to call, use FaceTime or Skype those patients.

Details of current visitation exceptions include:

ER – Limit of one visitor age 18 or older may accompany a patient in the ER. The visitor must come in with the patient at the time of arrival. Both are required to wear a mask and should bring their own. The visitor must stay in the specific room assigned to the patient until discharge. If the patient is admitted, no visitation is permitted on the Inpatient Nursing Units.

Surgical/procedural areas – Limit of one visitor age 18 or older may accompany the patient for admitting and pre-surgical areas. Both will be required to wear a mask upon arrival. The visitor will need to leave before the surgery starts and may not wait at the hospital. The visitor will be notified when the patient is ready to be picked up and given their discharge information. The visitor again needs a mask as they enter the building for discharge. If a patient is to stay overnight after their procedure, no visitation is allowed on the Inpatient Nursing Units.

Labor and Delivery: limitation of one support person who may stay over night

Mom and Baby/Post-partum**: one support person who may stay over night

Neonatal: one support person • Special needs patients, compassionate care/end-of-life situations.

**Reminder for OB patient’s families: when picking up mothers and/or newborns, please secure someone to watch older children, since they are not able to visit the hospital. 

Click for more details.

[Brain Health Initiative]  Finding Your Sense of Purpose During COVID-19

At a time when we are all dealing with angst, fear, chaos, and disruptions in our lives, many of us are questioning the meaning of our lives, as if we have lost our purpose. We may think of meaning and purpose in life as being related to religion or spirituality, and this is absolutely the case for some people. But it is important to find your purpose: having a sense of meaning and purpose in life can have profound effects on your health: both brain and physical health. We are all at our best when we dedicate part of our being, part of our living, to something greater than ourselves.

In a recent article in Psychology Today, Chris Palmer, MD, director of the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says one of the challenges in talking about meaning and purpose is that most of us are looking for a soundbite. We want a simple, concise answer and unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

There are many things that give our lives meaning and purpose and relying on only one or two of those things can leave us feeling empty or confused. For example, Dr. Palmer says, meaning and purpose are much more complicated than just religious beliefs, yet there are people who think that they should be enough. Thoughts like those can leave us feeling guilty about needing or wanting more.

The key is to choose our own way, to find the meaning and purpose in our own lives. Finding our meaning and purpose can be enough to help us endure through the most challenging of times


Dr. Palmer suggests taking this self-quiz to assess your meaning and purpose. To begin to assess your own meaning and purpose in life, ask yourself these big picture questions:

  • Why are you alive? 
  • Who depends on you, and why? 
  • Whom do you depend upon, and why? 
  • How do you help other people in your community and the world? 
  • How do you take care of yourself? 
  • How do you provide for yourself and your family? 
  • What are you passionate about? 

What do you love doing? 

If these questions are difficult for you to answer, or if you don’t like your answers to them, you are not alone. But you may now be on the path that will help you choose your way. 

Read the full article from Psychology Today.

[Re-Openings]  Bird Key Park Parking Lot Reopens to Public

The parking lot at Bird Key Park will reopen to the public, effective 9 am today, following an emergency order issued by City Manager Tom Barwin, in consultation with Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch.Open spaces at the park, 200 John Ringling Causeway, have remained available throughout the COVID-19 local health emergency for walking, jogging, exercise and outdoor relaxation for people and pets. Citizens are advised to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for safe social distancing in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19. City residents are also strongly urged to wear protective masks when leaving home under the City’s local public health emergency declaration. Lido Beach, the City’s tennis courts, boat ramps, fishing piers, dog parks and outdoor spaces are open to the public. Arlington Park Aquatic Complex is scheduled to reopen Friday, May 29. City park facilities and amenities, including playgrounds and basketball courts, remain closed. 

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