By Camille Gillies
Health insurance may have become more of a headache over the years, but the care you can receive at your physician’s office is more advanced than ever. A prime example can be found at Insignia Care for Women, a medical group that has three offices — New Tampa, South Tampa and Wesley Chapel — and specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. The practice’s eight Board-certified physicians are now able to perform in-office surgeries, as well as offer laboratory services, ultrasound technology and weight loss counseling, all within their walls.
Insignia’s main office, located at 3268 Cove Bend Dr., near the intersection of Bearss Ave. and Bruce B. Downs Blvd. (behind Cracker Barrel), is the site of a new surgical wing that the practice launched last month.
“We converted an area where we had been conducting research into separate pre-op, post-op and surgery rooms,” says Mandy Stevenson, Insignia’s clinical manager. “We are really pleased to be able to offer this convenience to our patients. Many women prefer to come to their doctor’s office to have a surgery performed rather than go to a hospital or outpatient center. It’s a more familiar environment for them.”
In the new surgical unit, Insignia’s physicians perform procedures such as NovaSure Ablation, which treats heavy menstrual periods by using radio frequency energy to remove the lining of the uterus; Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP), which uses a low voltage electrical current to remove abnormal tissues of the cervix; polypectomies or the removal of polyps; biopsies; dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove tissue in the uterus or to diagnose or treat abnormal uterine bleeding; and hysteroscopies, which diagnose and treat abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Insignia’s obstetrical (OB) care also is geared toward patient convenience, with patients encouraged to make appointments at any of Insignia’s three offices. For example, someone who lives in Wesley Chapel but who works downtown may want to visit Insignia’s South Tampa office, and they are welcome to do so. In fact, Stevenson, who also serves as the practice’s OB coordinator, advises patients to meet all eight of the doctors. On a rotating basis, three physicians are typically in the South Tampa and New Tampa offices while two see patients in Wesley Chapel.
An OB coordinator might be a new concept to you, but Stevenson, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), is the first stop for any Insignia OB patient. She partners with the patients, reviewing their medical histories and subsequently providing information and guidance to help them throughout their pregnancies. She also is the person who can answer common inquiries and will refer specific medical questions and concerns to the doctors.
Pregnancy and sonograms go hand in hand and, with three sonographers on staff, ultrasounds are performed in all three Insignia offices. In fact, Insignia Care for Women was the first group in Tampa to be certified by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM).
“We recently were certified for the third time,” sonographer Carol Pickersgill states proudly. Pickersgill, who boasts 36 years of experience in the field, points out that the types of sonograms performed at Insignia range from saline to doplar to three- and four-dimensional.
“Sonograms are important for seeing inside the uterus, for determining uterine anomalies, neoplasms or tumors, as well as for assisting with amniocentesis or seeing the placement or correct position of an intrauterine device (IUD),” explains Pickersgill, adding that it is more comfortable for most patients to have sonograms conducted in their own doctors’ offices and it’s also more immediate. “If the doctor suspects a problem, we can usually work the patient in that same day.”
A Top-Flight Group
At the core of any doctor’s office are the doctors, and these physicians, six of whom trained at USF for their residencies, are all very like-minded in their respective approaches to medicine.
“We share a consistency in medical opinion and do things in a similar manner,” says William Newton, M.D., who ran the gynecology program at the USF Medical School for two years and has been practicing in Tampa since 1985. “Because of our training, we are able to provide continuity of care. That’s beneficial when patients see multiple doctors in a practice.”
Dr. Newton says the practice devotes half of its time to obstetrics and the other half to gynecology, adding: “We have extensive training and experience in gynecological problems and surgery. Several of us are associate professors at USF, where we occasionally provide resident training, and four (of Insignia’s doctors) are trained in robotic surgery.”
The team also conducts clinical research on menopausal therapies, fibroid tumors and endometriosis. You may see the doctors lecturing at public events, such as the recent “Focus on Females” symposium at the Tampa Convention Center, or walking to support breast cancer awareness. In addition to participating in several large-scale events, Insignia’s staff also organizes a successful raffle to benefit breast cancer causes.
“Our goal is to improve the quality of care for women, and with our highly educated doctors, in-house lab services, and comprehensive vaccination and screening programs, we aim to make it as convenient as possible for them,” Resnick states.
Tampa Palms resident and local attorney Katie Wiltse, 40, credits the doctors at Insignia with saving her life.
“I moved here about a year ago from Orlando, where I went to five different physicians to determine if I had a rare form of cancer that runs in my family,” Katie explains, noting that her mother died of the cancer at age 42. “Dr. Miller (Tracey Schwartz-Miller, M.D.) and the Insignia doctors went above and beyond to advocate on my behalf to my insurance company that I needed a specific blood test to determine my predisposition to the cancer. The test revealed that I had an 86 percent lifetime risk of developing it, and I was able to have preventive surgery that I believe saved my life.”
More Than Just Ob/Gyn
Another convenience afforded by Insignia’s comprehensive approach to women’s health is the practice’s wellness and weight loss program.
“We follow Dr. Jay J. Garcia, M.D.’s weight loss program,” says Joseph Resnick, Insignia’s division administrator. “All of our physicians are trained in his program, which promotes proper nutrition and health.”
The dietary program created by Dr. Garcia, one of the top weight loss physicians in the Tampa Bay area, can be found at GarciaWeightLoss.com. The program features three phases:
• Adjustment, or the weight loss phase, in which you receive a personalized nutrition profile and are given the best diet and medical supplements to optimize your weight loss;
• Conversion, or the transition phase, in which you move from weight loss to a program to maintain a healthy weight; and
• Maintenance, or the long-term plan, in which you maintain wellness and a healthy lifestyle.
Resnick says the program has been a success with patients and staff alike. Christina Boddy, Insignia’s front office manager, has lost 60 pounds in four months by following the program.
“I think it’s great,” beams Boddy. “I follow the diet and I exercise, and supplements like nutrition bars also are available if you want them.” The program also includes a series of injections that contain vitamins such as B-12.
Dorothy Szatkowski, the practice’s weight loss coordinator, is a medical assistant who has been trained in Dr. Garcia’s program. She has a background in weight loss management and is available to assist and support patients in meeting the goals of their customized program.
To learn more about the practice or the physicians at Insignia Care for Women — Natasha Gooden, M.D., Steven Greenberg, M.D., Jennifer Irani, M.D., Galen Jones, M.D., Tracey Schwartz-Miller, M.D., William Newton, M.D., W. Gregory Wilkerson, M.D., and James Von Thron, M.D. — please visit Insignia CareforWomen.com. Insignia’s Wesley Chapel office is at 3743 Maryweather Ln. (973-0398); the New Tampa office is located at 3268 Cove Bend Dr. (971-4555); and the South Tampa office is at 4150 N. Armenia Ave (876-0914).