Lower Keys Medical Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Acute Care Hospital Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal is a symbol of quality that reflects a health care organization’s commitment to providing safe and quality patient care.
Lower Keys Medical Center underwent a rigorous, unannounced onsite review February 16 – 18, 2022. During the visit, a team of Joint Commission reviewers evaluated compliance with Acute Care Hospital Accreditation standards spanning several areas including emergency management, environment of care, infection prevention and control, leadership, medication management, and rights and responsibilities of the individual.
The Joint Commission’s standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts and patients. They are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help health care organizations measure, assess and improve performance. The surveyors also conducted onsite observations and interviews.
“As a private accreditor, The Joint Commission surveys health care organizations to protect the public by identifying deficiencies in care and working with those organizations to correct them as quickly and sustainably as possible,” says Mark Pelletier, RN, MS, chief operating officer, Accreditation and Certification Operations, and chief nursing executive, The Joint Commission. “We commend Lower Keys Medical Center for its continuous quality improvement efforts in patient safety and quality of care.”
"I'm so proud of our team at Lower Keys Medical Center. Joint Commission Accreditation surveys occur every three years, unannounced, but our employees believe in being ‘survey-ready’ every day. We know that the practices that are measured by The Joint Commission are, in fact, the best practices for us to follow daily for patient safety and optimal outcomes. We are pleased to be able to maintain this Gold Seal of Approval® and to continue to provide quality, compassionate care to our community," said David Clay, CEO of Lower Keys Medical Center.
Lower Keys Medical Center is also accredited by The Joint Commission for Laboratory Services and as a Primary Stroke Center. Other accreditations include the American College of Cardiology as a Chest Pain Center, the American College of Radiology for Mammography, and the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission for Echocardiography Services. The hospital has also been recognized with the American Heart Association’s “Get With The Guidelines”: Stoke Silver Plus Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll.
The College of the Florida Keys will showcase the talent and creativity of its students at the annual Student Art Show in the Library Gallery on the Key West Campus. Join art students, art faculty, and art lovers from the entire Keys community to celebrate a year’s worth of art and accomplishment at the opening reception on Wednesday, April 20, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The event, sponsored by the College of The Florida Keys Foundation, is free and open to the public.
A myriad of artwork created by students this past year will be featured, including pottery, photography, and sculptures. Some pieces will be for sale with proceeds going to the student artists as well as the Library Gallery Fund. Several awards will be given for each category, including the prestigious $1,000 “Jay Gogin Excellence in Visual Arts Award,” named after the College of the Florida Keys late Artist in Residence and ceramics instructor. Attendees will be invited to cast votes for the winner of the “People’s Choice” award.
For more information, contact Kristina Neihouse, Director, Learning Resource Center. email@example.com or 305-809-3501
City Manager Patti McLauchlin, during Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, honored Police Chief Sean Brandenburg for his 20 years of service to Key West.
Surrounded by colleagues, commissioners, the mayor, and his wife Julie, Chief Brandenburg was presented a 20-year coin and gold watch commemorating his service.
“We thank you, Sean, for all your many years of service,” said McLauchlin.
“It’s an honor to make this milestone in my career.” Said Brandenburg. “I still enjoy going to work every day. The two big reasons for that: The fine men and women of the Key West Police Department, and the community support we get. And by community support I also mean our law enforcement community. Nowhere else do you see city, county, state, federal and the military get along the way we do in Key West.”
In presenting the honors, McLauchlin recalled the many contributions and milestones in Chief Brandenburg’s career. Hired on April 1st in 2002, “Sean started on the night shift, quickly becoming a K-9 handler. He was paired with his K-9 Wind, who would serve faithfully by his side for the next several years.”
In 2005, he was promoted to Sergeant, and, in 2010, Brandenburg and Wind were assigned to the Special Investigations Unit or narcotics unit.
“During his time in narcotics, Sean was the leader of the unit,” said McLauchlin, “working closely with our local, state and federal partners, to combat the opioid epidemic that was just beginning to take hold in the US and Florida. In one six-month stint while working with a special task force from the DEA, his unit filed over 250 felony charges against individuals selling drugs in Key West.”
Brandenburg was promoted to Lieutenant in 2012. In 2014, he was promoted to Administrative Captain.
While he was Captain, Brandenburg attended the prestigious FBI National Academy, an honor less than one percent of Law Enforcement worldwide are selected to attend.
On December 3, 2018, he was promoted to Police Chief.
“As Chief, he has continued to strive to improve the agency's relationship with the community,” McLauchlin noted. “Sean is a member of Rotary, Business Guild, Cooking with Love and Military Affairs Committee, and sits on various boards to include Keys to be the Change, Wesley House, Love Fund, and PAL. Sean is also an enormous supporter of Special Olympics, MARC House, and Autism Society of the Keys, hence the Blue Badge on his chest. Sean has received numerous awards, such as Life Saving, Officer of the Quarter, Unit Award, and the Chief's Commendation, for his work throughout his tenure.”
The expert panel at USA Today selected Mallory Square as a contender for Best Public Square. The contest gives voters four weeks to vote for the candidate of their choice at https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-public-square-2022/. A person can vote once a day for the run of the contest.
Voting ends Monday, April 11th and the winners will be announced on 10Best on Friday, April 22nd at 12:00pm EDT. You can read the official rules here. Please note that the rules do not allow offering prizes or other inducements to members of the public in exchange for votes during the voting period.
Mayor Teri Johnston and the Key West City Commission took the opportunity this week to recognize Harry Bethel for 50 years of public service.
Bethel served on the City Commission from 1991 until 2007. Thirteen of those years he served as vice mayor, earning him the honorary title of Vice Mayor Emeritus.
“Harry is the face of what public service is all about,” said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, noting that much of Bethel’s service over the years was “pro bono.”
“Harry Livingston Bethel has served the citizens of Key West and the Florida Keys for more than half a century,” reads the proclamation, “through a long and historic series of elected and appointed public offices, and as a public utility employee.”
In addition to his many years on the City Commission, Bethel has served on a plethora of board, from the Key West Bight Management Board to the Monroe County Housing Authority Board. He was elected several times to the Key West Civil Service Board and has been a member of many social organizations, including the Key West Jaycees, Key West Noon Rotary Club, Elk’s Club, Moose Lodge and the Military Affairs Committee. He has enjoyed several gubernatorial appointments.
During the first eight years of his service on the City Commission, he championed construction of the Skate Park on Flagler Avenue through private donations, and through his efforts, the Key West Annual Christmas Tree Lighting continues to feature trees provided by a private donor.
Bethel is an 8th generation Conch, and the commission chambers were filled with family and friends.
“I had the honor of serving my city and my people, my neighbors and my friends,” he said, accepting the honor. “I only hope I did well by you.”
The proclamation ended with Bethel’s mantra, “Always be fair and you will always be right,” as well as with his slogan, “I did it my way.”
Grantees from Upper, Middle and Lower Keys Include New Recipients
The Community Foundation of the Florida Keys is awarding grants totaling $307,570 to 48 Keys nonprofits for collaborative projects that will directly benefit our residents, communities and environment.
“The Foundation is increasing our impact by increasing the dollars we grant out to the community,” said Jennifer McComb, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys. This year’s awards are nearly $100,000 more the $215,266 granted to 35 organizations in 2021. The Community Foundation has more than doubled the $144,500 it granted to 27 organizations in 2020 through the annual competitive process.
The Community Foundation grants over $1.5 million a year in total but most of the funding is restricted to specific nonprofits, per the wishes of individual donors, McComb said.
Its Grants Committee, comprised of board and community members, scored the 2022 “Collaborating in Paradise for Good” requests from 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits and school programs and selected the proposals for funding. Eligible applications were required to include a collaboration with another nonprofit or service-based organization.
This year’s annual competitive grants were funded by generous donors representing the Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam Fund, the Ron and Joyce Burd Fund, the Michael Dively Social Justice and Diversity Fund, the Driftwood Fund, the Beverly and Bill Goldner Charitable Fund, the Brian and Maureen Harrison Fund, the Landau Family Fund of the Upper Keys, the William Monroe Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta and the Jack M. Paul Fund. Permanent legacy funds that contribute to the grants program every year are the Emily Boyd Lowe Music Fund, the Jack Baron Visual Grant Fund, the Florence Fox-Loeb Key West Music and Theatre Arts Endowment and the William C. Euler Jr. and Andrew F. Oates Jr. Fund.
The 2022 grantees are:
Autism Society of the Keys, $10,000, to provide sensory boxes to families and first responders, in collaboration with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and Key West Police Department.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, $10,000, to provide rental assistance to prevent homelessness of our growing immigrant population, in collaboration with The Salvation Army.
Florida Keys Council of the Arts, $3,000, to provide tickets for arts opportunities for working families, in collaboration with United Way of Collier & the Keys.
Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition, $10,000, to fund its labor doula program for pregnant families, in collaboration with Community Health of South Florida.
International Woman's Flag Football Association, $5,000, to purchase equipment for teams countywide, in collaboration with the Monroe County School District.
Key West Art and Historical Society, $7,000, to repurpose a Key West history documentary for classroom use, in collaboration with the Monroe County Education Foundation.
Kids Come First In the Florida Keys, $7,500 to provide clothing, shoes, and personal hygiene items to at-risk children, in collaboration with Samuel’s House.
Literacy Volunteers of America, $10,000, to provide training and resources to help students integrate into our Keys community and environment, in conjunction with multiple nonprofits.
Reef Environmental Education Foundation, $9,500, to provide Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility trainings for leaders from multiple nonprofits.
Special Olympics Florida Monroe County, $10,000, to launch a school-based Bocce Ball program for youth with and without disabilities, in collaboration with the Monroe County School District.
Star of the Sea Foundation, $10,000, to provide 16 weeks of nutrition education to 200 fifth grade students, in collaboration with the Monroe County School District.
Active Disabled Americans, $2,500, to provide outings to those that would otherwise be excluded due to disability and financial hardship, in collaboration with Ocean Dreams Cancer Healing Center.
First Key in Paradise, $5,000, to help repair and refurbish the 40-foot Key Largo holiday community tree, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Key Largo and Rotary Club Key Largo Sunset.
Florida Keys Children's Shelter, $10,000, to fund recreational outings for at-risk youth participating in summer camp, in collaboration with MarineLab.
Good Health Clinic, $8,400, to help pay for a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the office one day a week, in collaboration with Womankind and the Florida Keys Area Health Education Center.
Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys, $10,000, to fund materials and labor for a nine-unit housing project, collaborating with Habitat for Humanity of Key West and the Lower Florida Keys.
History of Diving Museum, $5,000, to create a series of cultural programs offered with its limited-time Sponge Hunters exhibit, collaborating with REEF and the Morada Way Arts & Culture District.
I.CARE, $3,000, to support volunteer divers’ expenses so they can help transplant and monitor coral fragments, in collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory.
Key Largo School, $10,000, to establish a theater program and drama club, in collaboration with The Key Players.
Kids 4 Kids USA, $8,000, to train and certify local instructors in adaptive swim education, in collaboration with iCan Shine.
MarineLab, $5,000, to provide a mangrove ecology field trip for Upper Keys fifth graders, in collaboration with Monroe County School District.
MarrVelous Pet Rescues, $5,000, to help cover expenses for a Spay and No Balls Clinic to spay and neuter of feral cats, in collaboration with Whiskers and Paws Forever of Monroe County.
Ocean Dreams Cancer Healing Center, $2,500, to host educational classes about cancer prevention and caregiver development, in collaboration with multiple nonprofit organizations.
Plantation Key School, $4,800, to provide authentic artist instruction by linking art to curriculum, in collaboration with Our Place in Paradise.
Treasure Village Montessori School, $4,000, to enlarge its vertical rooftop garden, and to construct a solar-powered hydroponic system, in collaboration with First Baptist Church of Islamorada.
Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys, $10,000, to help fund building costs of "Bell Haven" (formerly known as 79th Street Homes for Hope), in collaboration with the Zonta Club of Marathon.
Marathon Garden Club, $1,000, to replace broken ceiling lights with more efficient lights, in collaboration with multiple nonprofits that use the facility.
Marathon Wild Bird Center, $4,000, to purchase pelican education signs and mount them at fishing cleaning stations, in collaboration with Crane Point Hammock.
Presents in Paradise, $5,000, to purchase clothing, shoes, and bedding available at “Rick’s Closet” for children in need throughout the year, in collaboration with multiple nonprofit organizations.
KEY WEST AND THE LOWER KEYS
A Positive Step, $10,000, to fund a part-time career coach and summer jobs for at-risk Key West High School students, in collaboration with the City of Key West.
AH of Monroe County, $10,000, to help pay for an architectural blueprint for an affordable housing project on Duck Avenue, in collaboration with the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition.
Bahama Village Music Program, $10,000, to fund sets, costume design, personnel, and supplies for the Keys Kids Junior theatrical production, in collaboration with Horace O’Bryant School.
The Basilica School, $5,000, to provide counseling services for new mothers, before and after birth at Lower Keys Medical Center, in collaboration with the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition.
Florida Keys SPCA, $10,000, to care for animals of people experiencing violence, illness, and homelessness, many clients of the Domestic Abuse Shelter or Cornerstone Resource Alliance.
Habitat for Humanity of Key West and the Lower Florida Keys, $5,000, to purchase materials for minor home repairs for people in need, some referred by the Star of the Sea Foundation.
Key West Botanical Garden Society, $2,500, to purchase plants and supplies to create a new K-8th grade Living Lab program, in collaboration with the Lower Keys Zebra Longwing Project.
Key West Community Sailing Center, $6,000, to provide boating and picnic experiences for clients from the Monroe Association for Remarcable Citizens.
Key West Impromptu Classical Concerts, $3,870, to provide music education seminars for the Key West High School Band and students enrolled in the Bahama Village Music Program.
May Sands Montessori School, $5,000, to pay for staff, materials and supplies for a “History Comes Alive” program, in collaboration with the Key West Art & Historical Society.
Old Island Restoration Foundation, $2,000, to provide complimentary admission for low-income residents to learn about classic conch recipes, in collaboration with Williams Hall.
Red Barn Theatre, $3,000, to provide free show tickets to residents in financial need, collaborating with referrals from multiple human service partners.
Samuel's House, $10,000, to construct a covered outdoor rejuvenation area at its shelter with benches, tables and plantings, in collaboration with Kids Come First.
Sister Season Fund, $10,000, to fund rent and utilities for hospitality and tourism employees, who have become temporarily out of work, in collaboration with The Key West Business Guild.
The Studios of Key West, $10,000, to retain the non-profit InHEIRitance Project to develop a new piece of theater written to address issues related to the sustainability of our island community.
Tropic Cinema, $5,000, to pay for film rights and help cover costs to offer the theater free of charge for local students to see film adaptations of books, in collaboration with Somerset Island Prep.
Unity of the Keys Spiritual Center, $1,000, to purchase clothing vouchers for people in need to shop at St. Peter's Thrift Store.
University of Florida Endowment Corporation, $3,000, to help families learn to grow their own food by providing demonstrations, fact sheets and container gardens at Grimal Grove.
Zonta Club of Key West Foundation, $1,000, to provide scholarships for Samuel’s House clients to participate in GED and certificate programs to expand career opportunities.
The annual competitive grants program is the only opportunity for any 501(c)(3) nonprofit, faith-based organization or school in Monroe County to submit an application for consideration. The 2023 grant application will be available next year at cffk.org/grants.
Your Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, In Paradise for Good, has granted over $32 million to benefit every resident from Key Largo to Key West, supporting arts and culture, beautification and preservation of the Keys, health and human services, disaster relief, scholarships, and youth programs. The Community Foundation helps individuals and families leave a legacy in the Keys by inspiring giving and by connecting people, resources and needs through philanthropy, The Foundation is well-known for its signature “Unsung Heroes” event which honors nonprofit volunteers. For more information, call 305-292-1502 or visit cffk.org.
On February 9, 2022, Lower Keys Medical Center recognized its 2021 Annual Award recipients.
Holly Boyer, Patient Concierge, was named the 2021 Employee of the Year. David Clay, CEO, read comments from Holly’s colleagues, which recognized her for her composure, critical thinking skills, and daily care and compassion as she welcomes patients, guests and staff entering the facility. “Holly arrives at work each day with a smile! She treats everyone with kindness and respect. If an issue or difficult situation arises, we know it will be handled appropriately. She performs the essential duties of welcoming and screening all that enter our facility, directing and guiding patients and visitors, while cross-training in other roles as well. She never complains and is the epitome of a team player. She’s invaluable!”
Sean Dillon, RN, Surgical Services, received the 2021 Nursing Excellence Award. He was recognized for his dedication to his profession, connection with patients, honesty, authenticity and trustworthiness. Clay noted comments from co-workers, “Sean goes above and beyond in modeling our Compassionate Care Culture. He is a highly competent and skilled nurse. He believes, as a nurse, that we are here to provide technical, emotional, supportive and collaborative care to all we encounter. His professionalism is well-balanced with a great sense of humor and an incredible amount of empathy for those around him. When thanked for his efforts, Sean simply replies, ‘That’s what we’re here for… to take care of our patients.’”
Zuki Figueroa, Certified Medical Assistant, Keys Medical Group Obstetrics and Gynecology, received the 2021 Keys Medical Group Excellence Award, in recognition of her experience, insight and compassion. Colleagues commended her work ethic, mentorship, and ability to implement new processes in a positive manner. “Working in OB, you have to be a compassionate person. Zuki is warm and welcoming to patients and addresses them as a familiar friend when they come in. She is compassionate when patients are sad or afraid and shows the same compassion with her co-workers. You can really count on her!”
Yodis Fuentes Flores, Nursing Assistant, Emergency Services, was presented with the 2021 Clinical (Non-nursing) Excellence Award, for which he received eight separate nominations. Clay read, “Yodis is always willing to go the extra mile for patients. He always helps patients to feel comfortable with the process of being in the ER. He calmly talks to people that are in distress until they feel better. Yodis is a hard worker who takes pride in what he does. Yodis is very positive and extremely helpful. There is never a moment where he is rude to another human. He shows his compassion through his kind words and shows he cares with a smile.”
Tara Lowson, Registrar, Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy Rehabilitation Department, was recognized with the 2021 Non-Clinical Excellence Award. Co-workers noted, “Tara reassures our patients that their therapist(s) will take care of them and that they will receive excellent care. She provides compassionate care and enhances the patient experience by taking extra time to sit with patients, face-to-face, to explain their insurance, make calls to insurance companies, and really talk through their benefits. Patients have, time and time again, expressed how grateful they were to have Tara walk them through the confusing world of insurance. She is an active listener and can tell when someone needs a little extra help, attention, or needs space. She serves as a mentor to others in the department.”
Eddie Bushey, Human Resources Business Partner, received the 2021 Frank Houtman Award, named in honor of a long-serving volunteer at the hospital who wanted to give back to patients and employees as a tribute to his late wife. Frank once said he admired people with a sense of service, loyalty and commitment. “I look for people who shine,” Frank noted. Eddie was commended for his willingness to help out wherever he can and for organizing events and activities to keep the staff in good spirits. “He visits the floors to give out candy or pens, telling his ‘Eddie jokes’ and making everyone laugh. He treats everyone the same, is always outgoing, and knows staff by name,” Clay noted.
Angelina Ashler, RN, Director of the Intensive Care Unit and Patient Experience Champion, was honored as the 2021 Clinical Manager of the Year, for her compassion, leadership, and ability to adapt quickly in times of change. Clay shared, “Angelina is a consummate professional in all of her leadership duties. She goes above and beyond to support our team, our customers and our mission. She quickly responded to reconfigure services to meet pandemic concerns, ensuring quality patient care and safety of staff amid constant change and imperfect information. She and her team demonstrated extraordinary compassion for patients and families. She was also very aware of the impact on her team, providing compassion and ongoing frontline support.”
Lisa Noss, Director of Human Resources, was named the 2021 Non-Clinical Manager of the Year for her unwavering drive to improve the hospital environment, no matter what the challenge may be. Clay noted, “Lisa has the ability to multitask at a high level, which was paramount this year. She goes about this with a positive light and always looks for opportunities to improve the organization. She is always fair, calm, and can explain the ‘why’ behind policies while making individuals feel at ease. Lisa was instrumental in timely implementation of new COVID policies. No matter how much is on her plate, Lisa will always find time for you and, when she does, she is committed to your concern and does it with a smile.”
Also recognized were employees with 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service with Lower Keys Medical Center.
Mayor Teri Johnston, the Key West City Commission, and the Old Island Restoration Foundation this week presented a commendation to Paul and Evalena Worthington for their dedication in preserving the Historic Key West Bight.
The couple has, for many years, operated the Schooner Wharf Bar. Paul recently passed away, and Evalina accepted the honor.
“The Worthingtons have inspired so many through their love of traditional classic boats,” reads the commendation. It notes that, over the years, the couple “never lost sight of the issues that mattered to the people within the local community.”
The “have worked diligently to ensure that the spirit of Key West remains true to its traditional culture; and every man, woman and child, family, pirate, shopkeeper, visitor, Conch, and resident is welcome at the Schooner Wharf Bar.”
“I am so honored,” said Evalina. “We will continue the tradition of keeping the preservation of the Bight and Schooner Wharf Bar. See you there for a drink… or two!”
In the photo: Commissioners Mary Lou Hoover (at the dais) and Gregory Davila, Mayor Teri Johnston, Evalina Worthington, Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman, and Commissioners Clayton Lopez and Billy Wardlow.
The Studios of Key West is pleased to announce Helen and Ben Harrison as the recipients of this year’s Golden Mango Award. The award was established in 2015 “to recognize persons who make aesthetic, social, intellectual, and philanthropic contributions to our island arts community and its reputation as a center for the arts.” The Harrisons were recognized during The Studios’ Annual Patron Brunch on January 16, and were presented with a striking mango sculpture designed by artist Adam Russell.
“Helen and Ben’s story is as Key West as it gets; it's almost like a fairytale,” says Executive Director Jed Dodds. “They came here on a boat, put down roots like a tree and just started gifting us with the fruits of their creativity. Now, a generation or so later, they’re still providing shade for us to relax in, and a reminder why we love it here."
The Harrisons first arrived in Key West in 1979 in a 38’ sailboat they built by hand, docking at one of the submarine finger piers of the yet-undeveloped Truman Annex. Ben quickly got a job playing guitar and singing at Two Friends Patio Bar, and has entertained the island with his music ever since. In 1986, the Harrisons purchased the cinder block 1950’s era shop at 825 White Street, turning it into Harrison Gallery, which over the past 35 years has presented 172 artists and is widely recognized for the eclectic contemporary works exhibited inside its walls.
Helen is a well-known activist and artist whose work is impactful and widely collected. A longtime board member of The Studios, she now serves as an Artistic Advisor. She spearheaded the conservation group Save our Pines to help protect the Australian Pines at Fort Zach. As a curator of art, she counts among her proudest accomplishments the 2019 Tom Majors “With the Grain: Tribute to Wood Art” exhibition at The Studios.
Ben is an author, musician and playwright with a distinctive voice and a delightful sense of humor. His gift for storytelling truly captures the unique history and character of Key West. He’s written many original songs, penned several books, and his most recent musical, “Undying Love”, played for ten sold out evenings in 2018 at The Studios.
Together, Helen and Ben have raised two sons. They’ve served as advocates and mentors to countless artists, writers, and musicians, and helped to grow and preserve Key West’s reputation as an Island of the Arts.
The Studios of Key West has presented a Golden Mango Award to an individual or couple for the past six years. Prior recipients include Judy and Stanley Zabar (2015), Ann and Bill Lorraine (2016), Anne McKee (2017), John Martini (2018), Judy Blume and George Cooper (2019), Christopher Peterson (2020), and Lynn Kaufelt (2021).
Submit Your Stories
Chamber members send us your press releases on your organizations accomplishments, staff awards and/or major happenings. We will post them for free.