By Dale Madison
Just like Betty White in an episode of “Golden Girls” trying to hold her breath in a hospital elevator so she wouldn’t get sick, many of us disdain even the idea of visiting a hospital for fear we might catch something that’s airborne. It makes the fear of getting sick worse for some than the potential cure! Fortunately, times have changed, and hospitals are no longer the breeding ground for illness they once were. They have also changed when it comes to serving the disparate members of the community. One case in point is Imperial Point Medical Center (6401 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale).
Tom Kester, Regional Director of Surgical Services for Imperial Point—part of the Broward Health system—is a true friend to the LGBT community. He, along with Imperial Point’s new CEO, Abigail Fortey, have established meaningful ties to Greater Fort Lauderdale’s LGBT community, recognizing the relationship between community partnership and trust, and providing health care to that community. “One of the reasons that I joined Imperial Point was that we embrace domestic partnership rights,” notes Kester. “That is huge in the medical field. Of course,” he adds, “all of the Broward Health facilities recognize domestic partnerships.”
Kester points to the region’s changing needs in health care. “At one time we had a huge HIV/AIDS department. Now, thanks to medical treatment advances, we don’t see that need as it was 25 years ago,” he explains. “At that time, Father William Collins of The Poverello Center served as chaplain. He did so much good work, and he still does,” Kester adds, flashing a smile. He goes over some of the essential services Imperial Point provides.
“Women have so many services offered to them, such as mammograms and other health screenings.” And then there’s “the Man Van.”
“That is not the official name of the project,” Kester explains, laughing. “The idea behind it is that men have health issues, and this van will operate like some of the HIV screening vans do. We are eventually looking at the following tests to be done on site, or we will refer the patient to the proper specialist for further testing: Gastrointestinal/ colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, urology and prostate exams, cardiac screening, eye exams, diabetes screening, weight control, skin health, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, and basic health education—and that’s just scratching the surface,” he adds.
Imperial Point is about to celebrate 40 years of providing uninterrupted service. The medical center plans to mark the occasion on Saturday, October 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with something for everyone including screenings for blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, and more. The event will also feature free therapeutic chair massages, a Halloween-themed corner and bounce house for kids, caricature artist and face painting, food, refreshments, all sorts of prizes and giveaways, live entertainment, and the blood bank bus.
For more information, call (954) 759-7400, or visit browardhealth.org/40years.