There’s a new health care heavyweight in town — 120 tons of an emerging technology designed to further solidify The Villages’ place on the medical map. Aviv Clinic’s two hyperbaric oxygen chambers, installed last week, are the latest arrivals at the Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood, which is taking shape for a spring 2020 opening. Aviv is one of nine tenants announced for the four-story, 240,000-square-foot facility near Brownwood Paddock Square that will feature more than 25 outpatient specialties and an ambulatory surgery center. Aviv will occupy its own wing, the first clinic of its kind in the U.S. focused on improving the aging process by enhancing cognitive and physical performance.
Research suggests that hyperbaric oxygen therapy — often used to treat victims of burns, carbon monoxide poisoning and serious wounds — also may help people think more clearly and feel better physically.
While the treatment has not yet received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for those uses, Aviv’s medical program is based on more than a decade of research and clinical experience at the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, one of the world’s largest hyperbaric centers. In studies there, more than 1,000 aging adults reported the treatment boosted their memory, gave them more energy and helped them sleep better.
The treatment involves sitting in a cushioned seat while receiving pressurized pure oxygen through a mask, a process that Aviv says stimulates the rejuvenation process over about a three-month period.
“There’s a lot of research and a lot of work going on throughout the world when it comes to how do you improve the aging process,” said Dave Globig, CEO of Aviv Clinic in The Villages. “How do you ensure that people can live life to the fullest? It’s fascinating when you see the work that’s being done, the chance to improve someone’s cognitive ability and help to ensure that they can maximize the time that they have. “
Dr. Shai Efrati, chief medical officer for Aviv and director of the Sagol Center, has presented his research at scientific conferences across the world and in an online TedX Talk.
He and Carla VandeWeerd, director of research at The Villages Health and an associate professor at the University of South Florida, have been awarded a grant from the Florida High Tech Corridor Council’s Matching Grants Research Program to further study application of the treatment.
Last month, three American researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering how living cells sense and react to oxygen levels. Those findings could have major implications for preventing or treating some diseases.
The Villages is an ideal location for Aviv because residents are so invested in an active lifestyle, Globig said.
“It just aligns with everything that The Villages is,” he said.
THE VILLAGES HEALTH
The Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood also will feature tenants who already have an established local presence.
The Villages Health will bring together 15 specialties in its 70,000 square foot space on the third and fourth floors: audiology, cardiology, dermatology, diabetes education, dietetics, endocrinology, gastroenterology, general surgery, gynecology, neurology, orthopedics, podiatry, psychiatry, rheumatology and urology.
It also will operate a 1,000-square-foot audiology center on the first floor, which will add an audiologist focused on balance disorders and the ability for onsite cochlear implant testing.
“We finally have a space big enough to do everything under one roof,” said Dr. Al Turri, director of audiology, adding that “we will also have a looped lobby, so we’ll be able to demo loop centers so that we can educate patients how to use that technology in the office.”
This will be the ninth site for The Villages Health, which will continue to operate its eight other care centers, including the Specialty Care Center next to The Villages Regional Hospital.
“The Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood is an incredible vision to build something out where so many services can be delivered in such a highly coordinated and patient-centered fashion,” said Dr. Jeff Lowenkron, chief medical officer.
LAKE MEDICAL IMAGING
This will be the company’s fifth imaging center in The Villages, and at 20,000 square feet, it will be its largest.
“We’re always excited to grow as The Villages grows and take care of The Villages’ patients,” said Dr. Cathrine Keller, managing physician.
The practice started more than 50 years ago when its radiologists began reading films at Leesburg General Hospital, now Leesburg Regional Medical Center. Its first Villages office opened in 1992.
Keller said that the new office will provide services such as X-ray, ultrasound, CT scans, 3D mammograms, SenoBright Contrast Enhanced Spectral Mammography, biopsy, breast MRI and breast ultrasound. The American College of Radiology designated the women’s imaging centers at its other offices as Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence.
The new center will house the 3 Tesla MRI, which makes better images of organs and soft tissue than other types of MRI, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Sometimes a basic brain MRI can take 30 minutes, Keller said, but the new scanner cuts that time closer to 10 minutes.
Keller said she looks forward to coordinating care with the other practices inside the center.
For example, people with imaging results can now go right next door to Florida Cancer Specialists, or review their scan results with their doctor at The Villages Health.
“I think it’s going to be a nice advantage because it gives us the potential to interact with one another more easily and help make more rapid and coordinated care for the patients,” Keller said.
FLORIDA CANCER SPECIALISTS
Founded in 1984, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute bills itself as the nation’s largest independent medical oncology/hematology practice, employing more than 230 physicians at nearly 100 locations. This new office will be its fourth in The Villages.
“It’s going to be kind of a copycat of what we have at Sharon L. Morse Medical Center,” said Dr. Maen Hussein, medical oncologist.
That office has been quickly growing, seeing nearly 100 patients daily with some weekend hours, Hussein said.
The new facility will provide medical oncology, radiation oncology and clinical research.
The company touts that it offers more clinical trials than any private oncology practice in Florida.
ST. LUKE’S CATARACT & LASER INSTITUTE
“The addition of our second facility at the beautiful Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood will allow us to provide a broader scope of eye care, and help more patients improve their vision,” said Dr. Kimberly Ireland, medical director and cataract surgeon at St. Luke’s at The Villages, which will continue to operate its office at Lake Sumter Landing.
“(Founder) Dr. James Gills, instilled in us the philosophy that if you provide exceptional patient care and treat patients like family, you will be rewarded with the faith and confidence of the community.”
Cataract surgery has been the heart of the company’s business model, said Myra Cherchio, director of clinical operations.
“Because we have the new additional space, we’re recruiting for a physician who can bring retina surgical care, eyelid and lid disorder surgery and additional services in glaucoma and medical ophthalmology,” she said.
The 10,000-square-foot expansion will triple the multisurgical ophthalmology practice’s clinical space in the area, said administrator Brad Houser. The company also has offices in Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Spring Hill, Tampa and St. Petersburg.
“As The Villages grows larger, the demand for our kind of services grows,” he said.
EYESITE OF THE VILLAGES
This will be the second location for the company owned by optometrist Dr. Paul Collins.
“Folks in The Villages want to stay healthy, stay active and are highly motivated to do it again the next day,” he said. “Helping them maintain a highly active lifestyle and seeing their best while doing it has been the highlight of my career.”
The new location will be a stone’s throw away from EyeSite’s first office at Grand Traverse Plaza near Brownwood Paddock Square. The Grand Traverse Plaza location provides services such as digital retinal photography, glaucoma visual field testing, and the treatment of superficial eye diseases and infections.
Exams include an eye health evaluation and visual analysis. The optometry practice specializes in computer vision testing, refractive surgery co-management and contact lens fitting.
The office also carries a variety of eyeglass brands for patients who need new or replacement eyeglasses.
EyeSite will be located on the first floor of the Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood.
LAKE CENTRE FOR REHAB
Lake Centre for Rehab has been waiting for the opportunity to build an office near Brownwood for two years, said CEO and COO Bob Goldstein, of the company’s new 5,000-square-foot location
“It’s going to be a state-of-the-art health care facility,” he said.
Established in 1978, the company is one of the largest Medicare-certified rehab agencies in the tricounty area. The new location will be similar to its other four area offices, offering treatment for musculoskeletal, neurological, balance and pelvic floor issues.
Its facilities contain free weights, exercise machines, private therapy areas and open space for aerobic exercise.
The center’s office will be its first to contain an unweighting system, which uses an overhead track and harness to ensure patients won’t fall, Goldstein said.
Lake Centre’s staff is also looking forward to interacting with the other providers in the facility, Goldstein said.
“I think it’s going to be wonderful health care,” he said. “To have all of the specialists that close together makes it so much better for the patients.”
Other tenants will include national chains LabCorp and Walgreens pharmacy. In addition to the announced tenants, plans are being finalized for an ambulatory surgery center, an aesthetics practice and a coffee shop.
Senior writer Ciara Varone can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5395, or email@example.com.