After 40,000 Vero eyes
A fresh start for Dr. Paul Minotty
Dr. Paul V. Minotty, who launched the Florida Eye Institute a quarter of a century ago and has performed vision-restoring cataract surgery on tens of thousands of residents of Vero Beach, is walking away from the center he built and is preparing to launch a new, “better” eye center.
The move comes after several years of acrimony, charges and counter charges, and courtroom battles pitting Minotty against several of the doctors he brought into the practice. While the legal maneuvering continues, the dissident faction in June gained control of the Florida Eye Institute.
“It’s time to start afresh,” said Minotty, who is moving into temporary offices at the Kurtell Center on 37th Street where he will see patients for the next nine months while contractors turn the ornate old SouthTrust Bank building at the western end of Miracle Mile into his new ambulatory surgery center. “I have never been more energized and enthusiastic about anything.
“There’s no question it is tough to walk away from something you have been involved with – something you started and developed,” Minotty said.
“But you don’t often get a chance for a doover. I feel like I have one. I am going to try to do it better. It is going to be perhaps a little more patient friendly, a little more efficient. I am looking forward to it.”
As was the case when Minotty left the old Doctor’s Clinic and moved to the Florida Eye Institute in 1985, on Day One he will be the only ophthalmologist seeing patients when he opens the doors at the temporary office at 777 37th Street , Suite D-103.
“But the new Day One will be different in that I think I am going to be busier quicker. And I think the other difference is I’m going to have a lot of familiar staff with me — a really great staff, already fully trained – and we are familiar with each other. I will be the sole doctor on day one. I was the sole doctor here on Day 1. But I look forward to having some other ophthalmologists around soon.”
Minotty declined to identify any doctors who might be joining him in his new practice, but hinted they might be a mix of new doctors and long-time colleagues.
“I am really looking forward to surrounding myself with people of similar philosophies in many ways – not just patient care – but keeping my hand on the tiller to make sure we guide this thing in the right direction,” he said. “I plan in the really very near future to add additional doctors to the practice – with other subspecialty interests.”
Minotty’s subspecialty interest right from the start of his career has been cataracts – the clouding that occurs in the crystalline lens of the eye which affects the vision, and occurs in many people as they age. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes, and by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery.
“I am fortunate to be old enough to have experienced many different phases of cataract surgery,” Minotty said. “What has happened in cataract surgery is absolutely phenomenal in terms of the technology, and in terms of the advantages that fall to the patient because of the technology.
“I now use the term custom cataract care. Every patient is different. Every patient’s needs and eyes and activities are different. What we do is a small incision now that does not require stitches. In fact, the technology for performing that procedure was developed in the early 70s, and as a resident in 1977, I was privy to some of the early refinements in those days. But what has happened in recent years is that the technology has changed.
“There is a tremendous difference in how we remove a cataract. You use a lot less energy in the eye, it is safer, and it gives better results. And the lenses that are available now – there are many, many kinds of lens that are available, and they are much better than they were four or five years ago – they are even improved over two years ago.”
Minotty estimates that since he came to Vero Beach in 1980 and began seeing patients at the Old Doctor’s Clinic, he has performed more than 40,000 cataract surgeries.
“This is the only place I have ever practiced,” he said. “I love being in Vero Beach. My wife and I have raised two daughters here, and I haven’t regretted one minute settling here in Vero – it’s really a great place.”
Minotty said the differences among the doctors at the Florida Eye Institute made the last couple of years — with them all continuing to practice in the same building — “not an easy time – not easy at all.
“But the practice of ophthalmology in Vero Beach is very important to me. I take it seriously. My relationship with my patients is very dear to me, and that’s what gets you through the day — and I will tell you, I have never enjoyed my patients more.
“Even without the disputes here in the office, the older I get, the more I enjoy my patients, the more I can relate to my patients – and the more you tend to appreciate the things they are going through in their lives. What’s happened in this practice is a difficult thing, but it pales in comparison to other people’s difficulties and problems. I don’t have any complaints. I really don’t.”
Minotty also had high words of praise for the staff members of the Florida Eye Institute, whom he said “throughout the legal ordeal, have been nothing short of inspirational.
“They’ve had to come in to a situation every day which was sometimes less than ideal, but they have just been exceptional in their professionalism. I think the patients have been well taken care of, and that’s why we’re here.
“Sure, it has got to have been a difficult time for some people – difficult for my patients and my family – but we are going to get through it. I will tell you, I am as busy as I have ever been – and the patients that do come and see me are very, very supportive.
“As I understand it, my schedule for July 6th is already pretty full,” Minotty said.
“I think I will be busy from the start, and I am pretty confident this is going to succeed – and quickly. It’s great to have friends out there. And I am looking forward to making some new friends, too.”