■ MARCY SHORTUSE
If you’re planning on coming down to the island soon, or are already here after a long spell of being elsewhere, you’re going to find that some big changes have taken place at the Boca Grande Health Clinic and at the Annex.
According to Clinic administrators, the Annex and its activities will now be overseen by a full-time employee of the Clinic, and some big changes have taken place at the little building across the street.
Since 2006 the building has housed medical services made available through doctors and other healthcare professionals who are not involved directly with the Clinic. As the years have gone by, though, the Boca Grande Health Clinic Board and doctors knew it was time for a change.
This spring work was done at the Annex to make the focal point of activity there the physical therapy department.
Now that the Clinic has approximately 1,500 patients who need physical therapy, space for the therapists has been expanded and an exam room added for extra patient privacy. Restrooms have been enlarged as well, to make things easier for patients in wheelchairs and with walkers.
There is also a new conference room that can be used not only for Clinic staff meetings, but for patient education and medical presentations.
All three exam rooms in the Annex have been remodeled, and new medical records storage will better adhere to HIPAA patient privacy rule
The Clinic’s three doctors – Dr. Lauren Hana, Dr. Tom Ervin and Dr. Ray James – as well as the private practitioners who lease space in the building will use the Annex exam rooms from time to time. Returning practitioners include Tim Corey, M.D. (a dermatologist), Noel Crosby, Au.D., (an audiologist) and Cecelia “Cheech” Hill, DOM, LMT, CNMT and acupuncturist.
While the Boca Grande Health Clinic itself has some new paint and new floor coverings, one of the most interesting (and important) changes is a new piece of imaging equipment, funded through the Boca Grande Woman’s Club.
The new digital radiology system will replace the current radiology imaging system (in which no films are used). Benefits from this new system include less exposure to the patient due to the lower dose of radiation, higher resolution images, improved diagnosing, a faster processing time and the ability to download the images into the patient’s electronic medical records and to the exam room.
Other changes at the Clinic include a new central heating and air system, a new roof, a refurbished fountain outside, new landscaping and new computer and phone systems.
It was in 1938 that Louise Du Pont Crowninshield, known as the island’s “fairy godmother,” decided the island needed a health clinic. It was originally for the treatment of “social diseases” that were common to a port town, and to expedite medical treatment for those who needed it quickly.
She rented a small house downtown and used it as a dispensary to store whatever medicines were needed to treat said diseases.
Eventually the first health services building on the island came about – in 1947 – and Boca Grande’s fairy godmother set about making it bigger and better every year she was here. She knew the importance of a local healthcare provider for all island families – rich or poor – and wanted to help to make life a little easier on a then-bridgeless barrier island. After all, it was never fun for a patient suffering a heart attack or a woman about to deliver a baby to take a handcart across the railroad trestle to get to the mainland … and that is exactly what they had to do sometimes before the bridge was built.
When the Clinic first opened its doors in the Railroad Depot, one doctor was assigned to make a visit to the island by train once a week for three hours. He then took the outbound train back to Arcadia the same day. From 1949 to 1963 the Clinic occupied space it rented on the west side of the Fugate’s building.
In 1964 a new clinic was built and used (it is now the Health Clinic Annex) until it was replaced by the present facility in 1990.
In 2008 the building built in 1964, located on the southeast corner of 3rd Street and Park Avenue, was renovated for use as the Clinic Annex.
Parts of this article were written in conjunction with Dr. Daly Walker of the Boca Grande Health Clinic.
Photo by Dusty