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Former Navy doctor opens OB-GYN practice

Rose Mary Sobel, who has privileges at Seven Rivers, has an office next to the hospital.

By JIM ROSS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 14, 2002

CRYSTAL RIVER -- After finishing a stint as a U.S. Navy doctor stationed in Pensacola, Rose Mary Sobel was looking for a place to establish a private practice.

She wanted her family to live in an affordable Florida community that featured water, had good schools and was safe. The new place also had to need doctors who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology.

"This just kind of met all those criteria," Sobel said of Crystal River.

On Monday, she will begin seeing patients at her new office next to Seven Rivers Community Hospital. Sobel is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and her practice, called Crystal River Women's Health Center, will handle menopausal medicine, routine and high-risk pregnancies, gynecological surgery, birth control and infertility.

Sobel, 44, earned her medical degree in 1993 at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. She went on to serve as a resident at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa.

Sobel worked two months at a medical practice in Allentown. Then, since the U.S. Navy helped pay for her medical education, she started work at the Pensacola Naval Hospital.

She served in that capacity from August 1998 until recently. Now Sobel, her husband and their 5-year-old son are looking forward to their new lives in Crystal River.

"I feel like I'm a very caring and compassionate doctor. I try to do what's best for the patient," Sobel said when asked about her philosophy.

Sobel, who has privileges at Seven Rivers, will share responsibility for emergency room calls with Dr. Allan Hedges.

NURSING ASSISTANT ACCUSED: The state has accused a Citrus County certified nursing assistant of verbally abusing an 80-year-old nursing home resident and using excessive force to clean the resident.

The state alleges that Crissan Bishop committed those offenses on July 29, 2001, while an employee at Avante of Inverness. Bishop no longer works at Avante, according to administrator Nancy Hall.

Bishop and the state are negotiating a possible consent agreement that would settle the charges, according to the Department of Health. The Board of Nursing would have to approve any such agreement and discipline.

Efforts to reach Bishop were unsuccessful.

LAWSUIT SETTLED: Lawyers recently settled a lawsuit involving a former Citrus County doctor and Citrus Memorial Hospital, court records showed.

Marvin Compton underwent stomach surgery in June 1998. He alleged that Dr. Alex Argotte erred when performing the procedure, causing Compton to spend four months at Shands at the University of Florida hospital in Gainesville.

According to state records, Argotte, who now practices in Kentucky, settled his part of the lawsuit for $300,000. The records didn't say what amount the hospital paid, and hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Martin declined to comment.

NEW STATISTICS: The Citrus baby boom, such as it was, suffered a setback in 2001.

The number of babies born had increased each year since 1998. But fewer babies were born in 2001 compared with 2000, according to recently released statistics from the state Department of Health.

The county experienced a welcome dip in the number of babies born with low birth weights (less than 5.5 pounds). About 6.8 percent of the babies registered low birth weights compared with 7.5 percent in 2000, the statistics showed.

State health officials track that statistic so they can identify areas where prenatal care might not be readily enough available.

The percentage of children born to unwed mothers increased from 35 percent in 2000 to 42 percent in 2001.

Public health officials track that statistic closely because they say children born to unwed mothers are more likely to face poverty and a substandard support system. As a result, the children and mothers may need more social service assistance.

The number of Citrus births was dwarfed by the number of Citrus deaths. That's not unexpected in a county where 32 percent of the residents are age 65 and older.

The county's population continues to grow (it boomed 26 percent during the 1990s) because of migration.

"In many counties, migration is the only reason they grow at all because there are more deaths than births," said June Nogle, a demographer with the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, in prepared remarks.

Nogle said Pinellas, Charlotte, Pasco, Sarasota and Volusia counties are examples of other Florida counties whose growth is driven by migration.

-- Jim Ross writes about medical issues in Citrus County. Reach him at 860-7302 or

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