MARCO ISLAND — E-mails fly about less expensive north-of-the-border drugs, but on Wednesday, what Canadians learned regarding Collier County’s pre-hospital and medical services made them ooh and aah.
Dr. Allen Weiss, president and CEO of Naples Community Healthcare Systems, painted a rosy picture for more than 150 attending the second annual meeting of Marco Island’s Canadian Club in Rose History Auditorium of the Marco Island Historical Society.
Other panelists included Scott Campbell, CEO of Physicians Regional Healthcare on Collier Boulevard in Naples, and Marco Island Fire Chief Mike Murphy.
Women in Collier County have the longest life expectancy in the U.S., Weiss said. The county is second for men. Nationally, Collier County is first in lowest death rate from heart attacks.
“We haven’t missed stopping a heart attack in under 90 minutes in two years,” Weiss said. Weiss praised the work of NCH’s Shick Heart Center that uses direct infarct angioplasty to treat heart attacks by unblocking arteries immediately.
NCH ranks in the top 4 percent of hospitals in the U.S. by size with 715 total beds. The hospital system is financially strong, Weiss said, adding technical advances and growing staff in 2011 by 6 percent.
Campbell said Physicians Regional Healthcare Systems is contributing to a healthier Collier County with specialties of its own. Its state-of-the-art robotic surgery center performs partial knee replacements with patients in, up, out and completed in the same day.
Although Physicians Regional doesn’t handle open heart surgery, it is equally capable of handling aortic aneurysm surgery, Campbell said. Open heart cases are referred to NCH.
Physicians Regional plans to open an 8,000-square-foot “urgent care center” on Marco Island in fall 2012, Campbell said, and is considering buying property on the island for a medical center in the future.
Murphy focused on pre-hospital care from home to hospital admittance. He stressed the important of calling 9-1-1 for immediate medical care.
“We bring an emergency room to your door, and in 82 percent of cases we are there within 6 minutes including the phone call,” Murphy said.
Both fire trucks and ambulances are staffed with highly-qualified emergency technicians who can administer drugs, determine medical needs and follow a protocol allowing them to transport patients to the correct facility for their needs. Patients also may request the hospital of their choice, Murphy said.
Those attending were amazed the City of Marco Island did not charge for its emergency medical services.
In his introduction to the program, organizer Gary Elliott said, about 300 Canadians own homes and condos on Marco Island. Homes purchased by Canadians have doubled in recent years, he said.
“Over 3 million Canadians visited Florida last year,” Elliott said. That accounts for about 10 percent of Canada’s population. In 2010, Canadians bought approximately 8 percent of the homes sold in the state.
The event was free through the sponsorship of M&I Bank, a local institution that is part of BMO Financial Group, owners of the Bank of Montreal; the Marco Island Sun Times; Physicians Regional Healthcare System; and ERA Flagship Real Estate.
Elliott’s wife, Sandy, baked traditional date squares and raspberry bars for the event that included wine, beer and an assortment of cheeses and desserts. Door prizes were supplied by the Marco Island Historical Society Museum Store and the Consul General of Canada in Miami who supplied the grand door prize of $100 worth of Canadian smoked salmon.