By Lee Health
You may have noticed the expansion at Gulf Coast Medical Center over the past several months. While towering cranes, webs of scaffolding, giant facades, and construction barriers look hectic, the carefully planned additions will ensure streamlined services for a growing Southwest Florida community.

The crown jewel of the expansion is the top floor, an inpatient center solely dedicated to treating cancer patients and offering comfort to them and their families. The floor, part of the Regional Cancer Center’s all-encompassing program, features 108 patient beds, spacious rooms filled with sunlight, therapy and treatment options, an intensive care unit, cutting-edge technology, and much more.

The Regional Cancer Center at Gulf Coast Medical Center’s opening on Aug. 19 means many things, but perhaps the most important one is this: Patients no longer have to worry about going anywhere else for exceptional care. Everything they need is right here. Here are some other things you need to know:

What is the Regional Cancer Center, and who are the major players?
The RCC is a partnership between Lee Health, 21st Century Oncology, and Florida Cancer Specialists. Since its founding, the RCC has brought together the best providers in the region under one umbrella. The RCC currently has an outpatient center at the Sanctuary in Fort Myers. The new inpatient center on the 7th floor at Gulf Coast Medical Center completes the circle of care and replaces inpatient services previously available at Lee Memorial Hospital. But this is more than just an expansion or a move. The new floor is designed to be a care destination, an example of a cancer program at its pinnacle.

What does “Care Destination” mean?
A “care destination” means a focal point for the community. They can now look to one place for services and support. The floor – a hospital within a hospital — has the same advantages, excellence, and outcomes as other spots such as MD Anderson Cancer in Jacksonville or Memorial Sloan Kettering in Miami. And now, patients don’t have to worry about the hassle of travel.

On Wednesday, September 30 at 9:00AM the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce will present a program to educate attendees on the six Florida Amendments on the November 3 ballot. This non-partisan event will be led by Andrew Wiggins, Senior Director, Political Affairs & Coalitions Advocacy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, who will discuss the implications of voting yes or no on each. Mr. Wiggins will also share an update on the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

This virtual event $10 for Chamber members, $20 for future members. Advance registration is required for login credentials.
Since 1981, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida, Inc. (CAC), a United Way partner agency, has worked to improve the lives of children and their families through a coordinated response to child abuse and neglect, offering them a safe and friendly environment in which to heal. CAC provides abuse determination services as well as therapeutic counseling, parenting education and prevention programs in Lee, Hendry, Glades and Charlotte Counties. All services are provided free of charge.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of SW Florida is proud of its partnerships with local law enforcement agencies from Lee, Glades, Charlotte and Hendry counties. Their Child Protection Team works very closely with them, aiding in investigations of child abuse cases. CAC is also proud of their very popular Beesley’s Paws Prints Pet Therapy Program funded by Carol Beesley through the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties. Registered therapy dogs and their handlers provide comfort and support to children in counseling at CAC and at our Pine Manor After School and Summer Program. 
What better way to highlight their partnerships than by teaming up some of their therapy dogs with the detectives they work with for the first CAC calendar! The cost is just $10 (cash/check, no cc) if you pick it up at CAC (email or $15 to purchase online. For more information, please call (239) 939-2808.

Image caption: Therapy dog Stella Walker* with Det. Nick Jones, Cape Coral Police Department
Photographed by Garth Francis (
The Chamber's Business Summit is taking on a new format this year. Instead of 1 day packed with sessions and hosted at a hotel, we are embarking on a multi-day virtual event that has sessions placed throughout the day so attendees can pop in and out at their convenience. Sessions will be at 8:00AM, noon and 4:00PM, which we hope allows many of you to participate while also not affecting your work-days too much.

There will be various tracks related to categories such as HR, sales, finance, marketing, personal wellness and more! And we will present sessions focused on businesses of various sizes, and attendees with different levels of career experience.
Monday, November 16, 4:00PM - KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Tuesday, November 17, 8:00AM, noon, 4:00PM sessions
Wednesday, November 18, 8:00AM, noon, 4:00PM sessions
Thursday, November 19, 8:00AM session, noon CLOSING SPEAKER
More information on sessions and speakers will be announced each week. The Business Summit will go on-sale on Monday, September 21. The cost is $75 for Chamber members and $99 for future members. Registration provides access to one session per time-slot live on Zoom over the 4 days and recordings of ALL sessions, the keynote and closing presentations. Registration is non-transferable.
Another round of distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is planned for Lee County businesses, with the first pickup location set to open Tuesday, September 15.

Business representatives will receive 200 facemasks and a case of hand sanitizer; limit one PPE-pick up per company. The business distribution sites will operate 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weather permitting and while supplies last at each site: 

No advance registration is necessary. County staff will ask the person representing the business for the business name, address and EIN number (Employer Identification Number). Only businesses with Lee County addresses will be eligible to receive PPE.

The distribution is part of Lee County’s continuing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is funded through the $134,459,744 received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). The Lee Board of County Commissioners approved the distribution at its meeting on Sept. 1. For more information, visit 
Image credit: Jessica Walker
Stella Walker has a connection to four Chamber member businesses! She is a Therapy Dog who cheers up children who have lost a parent in sessions at Valerie’s House, and helps children in counseling who are recovering from challenging situations at the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) - she is also one of dog models for the CAC 2021 calendar! Stella was adopted from the Gulf Coast Humane Society in 2015, and is five years old. Her human-mom is Jessica Walker from Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co.

Stella loves to interact with children and bring some lightheartedness to their lives, even if just for a little bit. She is registered through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs to help those in need, and takes her job very seriously. For fun, Stella regularly goes to “dog school” and loves to go out to eat, play on the beach, travel, or ride on the boat. She makes sure to maintain a good balance of work and play in her life. She even has her own Instagram account so people can keep up on her adventures.