How the hospitality industry is staying afloat during the flash recession

How the hospitality industry is staying afloat during the flash recession

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read FORT LAUDERDALE — The hospitality sector is a vital factor in South Florida’s economy. Around 1.3 million Floridians have jobs related to the tourism industry, which contributes $85.9 billion of the state’s GDP, according to A Banner Year for Florida Tourism Performance. On April 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay at home order that forced nonessential businesses like restaurants, hotels and shopping centers to close their doors. Within days of the shut down, an estimated 1.2 million people lost their jobs and more than 1.5 million unemployment claims were filed, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

 Although Broward County is a few weeks into phase one of reopening, uncertainty still looms. However, it has become apparent that the hospitality industry is doing everything in its power to stay afloat during the flash recession. The hospitality industry has endured a difficult four months and although it is making strides, no one knows how long it’s going to take for it to make a full recovery. 

Many industry leaders speculate that normal life won’t resume until a vaccine for the virus is discovered and easily accessible to the masses. The pharmaceutical industry indicates that a cure for COVID-19 could take years. In the meantime, businesses are having to come up with innovative ways to stay profitable. Unlike other sectors of the economy like technology and banking, the hospitality industry relies heavily on face-to-face interaction and physical guest services. “The hospitality industry will have to learn to function in a way not seen before. As the relationship between each brand and consumer starts by building trust, regaining customer confidence will be the first step in overcoming the crisis. Strict sanitary and hygiene measures will need to be applied, with new practices put in place to monitor and control the environment in which the business takes place,” Hassan Djeebet, food and beverage manager for Les Roches Marbella told hospitalitynet. 

Being transparent with guests will become even more important during the transition into a post-pandemic world. Managers will have to make their workers feel just as safe as their customers to ensure an overall positive guest experience. Although Broward County is just a few weeks into its phase one reopening plan, restaurant owners have noticed more and more people venturing out to indulge in their favorite food and drinks. “Eating outside is less risky than eating inside, if everybody is six feet apart and the wait staff are all wearing masks. That keeps the risk as low as it can be,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, told CNN Travel. 

Some argue one brightside to the pandemic is the emergence of new innovations in the hospitality industry. Many restaurants have adopted new technologies to ensure the customer experience is as hands free as possible. For example, instead of having a physical menu, restaurants are offering digital menus that can be accessed by scanning a QR code. Other innovations include artificial intelligence systems like FAQ bots to answer customer questions, virtual tours, and smart amenities like voice-controlled rooms and facial recognition. It’s safe to say that the pandemic has pushed businesses out of their comfort zones. However, as a result, easier and more efficient ways of doing things have surfaced. Some industry leaders even go so far as to say that the pandemic has propelled them at least five years into the future. 



Real estate development is booming in Fort Lauderdale

Real estate development is booming in Fort Lauderdale

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read –  Real estate development in Fort Lauderdale is getting a jolt of confidence despite the lingering impact of COVID-19. On March 24, a majority of businesses were forced to shut down after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a statewide shelter-in-place order. However, construction companies, hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations and other essential businesses were allowed to carry on with work as usual.


Florida is just one of several states that allowed construction to continue despite nationwide shutdowns. Similar to many other regions in the area, development is a vital part of Fort Lauderdale’s economy. The construction industry is projected to have the largest industry increase in employment from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

A strong signal of the confidence in the market is a recent move by Oko Group, an international real estate development firm founded by Vladislav Doronin. It is the first company to close a large deal since the beginning of COVID-19. The firm recently purchased 6.68 acres of land east of the county courthouse in Downtown Fort Lauderdale for $62.59 million. “Oko Group is excited to expand its portfolio of South Florida real estate with the acquisition of a mixed-use development site in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s urban core,” the developer said in a statement reported by South Florida Business Journal. “The Oko Group team, led by Doronin, now looks forward to working with the city of Fort Lauderdale to finalize plans for an exceptional development that will help to further transform the Downtown district while adding significant amenities for nearby residents and businesses.”

The majority of developments in the pipeline for Fort Lauderdale will most likely be residential. Retail and office real estate have proven themselves to be the weakest sectors in the market during the pandemic. “Prior to COVID-19, South Florida’s real estate sector was very strong, propelled by the demand and low interest rates. I think the commercial office market may see a bit of a correction. So many people are working from home and I imagine that most of them are going to continue to do that the rest of the year. I think business owners are getting more comfortable allowing their employees to work remotely. So far, the industrial and residential markets have proven themselves to be the strongest sectors in the real estate industry during the pandemic. I don’t think we’ll see any correction there. Currently, at Touchstone Webb Realty Company, we are watching retail and commercial as we move forward. We think it is going to take a good year before we see this sector begin to correct. We are still purchasing industrial and flex spaces for our clients,” Susan Thomas, president of Touchstone Webb Realty Company, told Invest: Palm Beach.

As Thomas mentioned, CDC regulations like social distancing have compelled more people to want to work from home. As a result, business owners could require less office space. Fairfield Cypress Creek is just one example of this trend. The new mixed-use project is currently underway between 6500 and 6520 N. Andrews Ave. The land which was originally occupied by office buildings will now hold 295 residential units, shops and restaurants. A new downtown could be another exciting project on the horizon for Broward County. Broward is recruiting a large company to relocate to the 140 acres next to the Everglades in Sunrise. “It’s one of the last few pieces you could make a statement. We really want to market this site internationally, not just nationally,” County Manager Bertha told the Sun Sentinel. 



Florida’s phase 2 reopening and what it means for South Florida

Florida’s phase 2 reopening and what it means for South Florida

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read June 2020 On June 3, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his plans to transition the majority of the state into the second phase of its recovery plan. However, the three southeast counties hit hardest by COVID-19 — Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach — will not be included in the reopening. 


 “We’ll work with the three southeast Florida counties to see how they’re developing and whether they want to move into phase 2,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Orlando on June 3. “They’re on a little bit of a different schedule.”


Gov. DeSantis will allow the three southeast counties to enter phase 2 under certain circumstances. The county mayors or county administrators will have to seek approval to enter phase 2 with a written request. Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner and County Administrator Verdenia Baker wasted no time sending their request letter to DeSantis. 


“Palm Beach County is ready to go into ‘phase 2,” said Kerner at a news conference on Friday afternoon. “But we want to do it with some particular carve-outs that are necessary for the unique nature of Palm Beach County.” The county’s public officials are waiting for approval from Gov. DeSantis. 


As for Miami-Dade, their previous reopening date was pushed back by protests against police brutality. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez lifted the countywide curfew on June 8, and approved the reopening of gyms and fitness centers under Amendment 2 to Miami-Dade County Emergency Order 23-20. Although the city isn’t officially included in the initial phase 2 reopening date, Gimenez says he is working with the state on reopening locations very soon. 


Upon approval, restaurants may allow bar-top seating with appropriate social distancing. Bars will be able to operate at a 50 percent capacity inside and full capacity outside. Retail stores are going to be allowed to operate at full capacity and entertainment venues like movie theaters and bowling alleys will be able to welcome back guests at a 50 percent capacity. Residents who do decide to venture out will still have to follow CDC guidelines like wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequently washing their hands.


Although the north and south regions of Florida are on different opening schedules. State universities will have to submit their blueprints by Friday. The State University System of  Board of Governors recommends things like social distancing, disinfecting, face masks and student’s desks being as far away from one another as possible. School districts on the other hand, will be given the final say on their own social distancing protocols. It is expected that students will have a much different learning experience upon returning to the classroom. 


“We have a great opportunity to get back on good footing,” DeSantis said. “I know our kids have been in difficult circumstances. … Getting back to the school year is going to be really, really important to the well-being of our kids.”


Broward County school districts are in the process of surveying parents to gauge what they would like their child’s school to look like this coming fall. “We will have schools open. We will have teachers in schools. We will have students in schools … including hybrid models that some parents are rightfully demanding,” said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public School, at Wednesday’s school board committee meeting. 


Within the past four months, there have been 70,971 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,877 related deaths in Florida, according to the Florida Health. 


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How to shake the COVID-19 blues in South Florida

How to shake the COVID-19 blues in South Florida

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020For the better half of a year, the majority of news across platforms, watercooler talk and virtual meeting conversations has revolved around the coronavirus pandemic, its impact on the local and global economy, and what the “new normal” may look like. As a result, many South Floridians, like their counterparts elsewhere, are likely suffering COVID-19 fatigue. As South Florida begins its reopening process, here are a few positives from the tri-county area to think about heading into the Memorial Day weekend. 


Miami-Dade County

Fun in the virtual sun: The city of Miami Beach wants to bring the tropical vibes to travelers’ living rooms as they plan future vacations and travel. The new social campaign, “From Miami Beach, With Love,” created by the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, is designed to deliver the city’s experiences to audiences from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Travel lovers can enter to win different Miami Beach experiences as they contemplate their next South Florida visit. The campaign also features specials and discounts to promote local small businesses in the area. Visit @ExperienceMiamiBeach on Facebook, Instagram and @EMiamiBeach on Twitter for a chance to win and support local Miami Beach businesses. 

Shopping!: For those wanting to help stimulate the local economy or take a stroll through one of the most prestigious fashion centers in the region, the Bal Harbour Shops is open for business. Following all CDC guidelines, Bal Harbour Shops will implement increased safety precautions to protect customers, retailers and employees, according to its management team. In keeping with Miami-Dade County and Bal Harbour Village ordinances, retail stores and indoor restaurant seating occupancy will be limited to 50% and salons will limit occupancy to 25%. Bal Harbour Shops will be open Monday–Saturday from 11:00am–10:00pm and Sunday, 12:00pm-6:00pm, though individual store hours may vary.

Broward County

Largest mall in the county welcomes visitors: Sawgrass Mills, the largest mall in Broward County, is officially open for business. The mall will offer masks, and signage has been placed to account for social distancing. Mall hours will be altered to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday until further notice. Simon, which operates Sawgrass Mills, also announced the reopening of other malls such as Coral Square, Dadeland, The Falls, Miami International and the Florida Keys Outlet Marketplace. 

Palm Beach County

As Palm Beach County begins the reopening of its economy, it has its eye set on providing extra help to those small businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners approved the CARES Restart Business Grants Program to accelerate the reopening of businesses hardest hit by the outbreak. The $60-million Business Restart Program uses a portion of the county’s $261-million allocation from the Federal CARES Act approved by Congress. The BCC has dedicated $50 million toward businesses with 25 or fewer employees and $10 million toward businesses with greater than 25 employees. The online application is expected to launch on Friday, May 22, and will be processed on a first come, first eligible basis, according to the county.

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Maintaining unity through webinars and industry-specific virtual talks

Maintaining unity through webinars and industry-specific virtual talks

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read April 2020The novel coronavirus forced a global halt to major international, regional and local events. From the NBA season to networking conferences, all gatherings of any size stopped abruptly in an effort to flatten the curve and prevent COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, from spreading further. However, as the population at large becomes accustomed to social distancing, stay at home orders and self quarantining, many events went from a hard stop to full speed ahead virtually. As the business community adjusts to the challenges of the disruption caused by the coronavirus, many institutions are building value and maintaining relationships with patrons by maximizing the use of webinars, online classes, video conferences and even virtual happy hours. 


In South Florida, a region known for its events and conferences, different institutions have embraced virtual meetings to build value and maintain close relationships with clients in the midst of social distancing. For the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, a chamber known for its networking events focused on covering top-of-mind issues for its members, virtual meetings and webinars have become the go-to instrument to stay connected to its members and coach them through this new business landscape. “At this point in time, in an era of social distancing, we are gearing our efforts toward creating webinars that give our membership and beyond a chance to find out what resources are available to them, how to maintain their business in this socially disconnected economy and coaching them on how to bounce back when that time comes,” Spokeswoman Morgan Mongelia told Invest: Miami. “All our regularly scheduled monthly programming had to be moved to a virtual platform and format,” she said. As part of its virtual offerings, the chamber has a full slate of virtual webinars, in addition to industry-specific teleconferences. “We are also using this time to support fellow community organizations and businesses via personal phone follow-ups to ensure the long-term success of the Coral Gables business community as a whole,” Mongelia said. 

The video conference platform, Zoom, has quickly become ubiquitous across the virtual events space. Across economic sectors, different institutions are taking advantage of Zoom and similar platforms. To host a successful virtual event, event planners must decide between hosting a virtual meeting or a webinar. “If you expect attendees to mostly just listen,” the best option is a webinar, Zoom advises as part of its digital event best practices. “When you need more back and forth between the audience and the host,” planners should choose a virtual meeting, the platform advises. 

Once the type of digital event has been narrowed down, hosts should hardwire the internet connection to prevent any Wi-Fi-related hiccups or virtual lag. In terms of audio, hosts should test speakers and audio prior to the meeting and minimize any background noise, according to Zoom. Additionally, hosts should dress to impress and make sure to start the virtual event on time. It is important to set the tone of the event and encourage Q&A’s during the virtual meeting or webinar. As a best practice, Zoom recommends the use of the Chat function to keep track of questions and comments. For larger webinars, Zoom offers a PayPal integration to charge the registration fees seamlessly. 

Social distancing will be part of the mainstream business landscape until at least May. However, many institutions are adjusting and pivoting more and more to the virtual hosting model to build value, share information and regain a sense of community in a time where residents are being asked to self-isolate as much as possible.  

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Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The Broward County Convention Center and Hotel is one of the largest projects underway in Broward County. A project of this magnitude requires the utmost care in regards to design and architecture, as well as the foresight to plan for future environmental challenges. Invest: spoke with Andrew Burnett, the senior principal for Stantec, which is working on the Convention Center project. Burnett addressed the company’s ongoing projects, how shifting demands have changed its focus and the National Flood Insurance Program. 


What are some of your most significant projects in development within Broward County? 


We have multiple projects throughout Broward County, including the Fort Lauderdale region, Pompano Beach, Sunrise and Miramar. For instance, we are the architect of record and landscape architect for the Broward County Convention Center and Hotel, which is around a $1 billion project. This is an extremely large and involved project requiring integrated services from Stantec that also has many resilient aspects being built into it that we hope to use as a model for future growth and development throughout the county. As we are expanding the convention center and building the new hotel, we have done a series of wave-height analyses. These are not just focused on the floodplain and how high we need to build the building to stay out of the floodplain, they also address storm surges and how to design the building to be more resilient in those situations. It has been great to have the county’s support on these matters. Our other projects in Broward County include the new AC Hotel by Marriott in Sawgrass Mills, Manor Miramar, Las Olas Walk and 1380 South Ocean Boulevard. 


How have you seen demand shift in the last couple of years and how are you adapting to this shift? 


Historically, we would see the demand for smaller residential units in the Downtown urban core because of the density of the population. As we moved away from the urban areas, the units were constructed bigger to attract more people, but now we are starting to see smaller units becoming attractive away from the urban centers. This indicates that people are looking for alternative solutions that are more affordable. It may also be partially due to having more flexibility and adaptability in the way that we live and the way that we engage the community as Broward becomes more connected and dense. We foresee more of these deals for smaller units outside of the main urban areas making sense for investors. 


We are seeing more residential projects that want to permit themselves as or like a hotel. There is some gray area with the rise of services like Airbnb and WhyHotel that can allow owners to operate as a short-term rental while they’re leasing up their building. Owners and investors are starting to take advantage of this. This is shifting how we design our projects. For instance, if we need to design for things like ADA bathrooms, which you would find in a hotel, we are starting to look at an earlier stage how we might design the spaces to be more flexible to do this.


How have you seen Opportunity Zone legislation affect your business? 


We have seen an increase in requests for test fits on properties that fall in Opportunity Zones. The market is starting to ask questions on sites and locations that they hadn’t previously. There are a lot of regulations that are being finalized and released in the near future that are going to help increase investor confidence to go forward in these Opportunity Zones, but it may be too early to see the fruit of the test fits in these sites. We are expecting to see more of this in 2020. 


How much of a focus do you place on possible future changes to the National Flood Insurance Program? 


We are looking more broadly at what is happening with the National Flood Insurance Program and what may happen in the future in terms of how we go about flood insurance regarding how much of it is subsidized by taxpayers. At some point, taxpayers are going to say that they do not want to be subsidizing flood insurance for landowners who may not be doing enough to protect their buildings. As risk starts to shift from insurance entities to owners, they are going to be asked what they are doing to make their building more resilient. What we are trying to do with our integrated team is to find solutions to this so we can go back to our clients and suggest to them what they need to do to mitigate this risk. 


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Spotlight On: Richard Helber, President and CEO, Tropical Financial Credit Union

Spotlight On: Richard Helber, President and CEO, Tropical Financial Credit Union

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — There are options when it comes to banking and it’s not just choosing between the multitude of traditional banking institutions. When Invest: spoke with Richard Helber, president and CEO of Tropical Financial Credit Union, he made sure to convey that unlike traditional banks, its credit union is a not-for-profit cooperative whose main goal is putting the customer’s interests first. He also spoke highly of the benefits of being located in South Florida and the trends he is keeping a close eye on as we turn the corner into 2020.



What advantages are afforded to customers who bank with a credit union like Tropical Financial as opposed to traditional banks? 

One factor that really makes us different from our banking counterparts is that we are not for profit. We are organized as a cooperative, so we refer to our customers as members because they actually own us. They elect among themselves individuals who will be on our board of directors. Our board of directors are all volunteers. Because we are a nonprofit, we do not pay income taxes and also do not have a profit motive. 

Banks are organized for profit and we are organized for service, with the philosophy of people helping people. What this means to consumers is that we are putting their interests first. There is no stock and we have no stock options. Our goal with our volunteer board is to put the interests of our members first. This translates into trying to be more competitive on our rates and fees and providing better service. In this day and age when there are so many people with busy lives, our mission is to help them make their finances easy to access and affordable so that they can get on with the things that are important in their lives.

How is the location of South Florida conducive to the future success of your operations? 

There are a lot of positive things happening in South Florida. The state is still seeing over 1,000 people a day moving within its borders. There are still companies that want to relocate here or anchor themselves in Florida. It also helps that this is an international market as well. This has increased the amount of diversity in terms of the number and types of companies that are here, in addition to the variety of professionals who have moved into the state.

What are the continuing or emerging trends in banking that you are keeping a close eye on as we move into 2020? 

One of the trends we are watching carefully is the tellerless branch. This is just starting to happen in South Florida and in different markets across the county. This machine is more or less a highly sophisticated ATM. But it can do a lot more than just take a deposit and dispense cash. They can do all the same things a human teller would do and unlike a human, they can be available 24 hours a day. The branch is being transformed into a financial consultation center not a transaction center.

Another trend we have observed is that when it comes to banking, the younger segment of the population wants tools to help them better organize their finances and make good decisions. For that reason, we have created the Get Beyond Money platform where an individual can sign up to meet with a money coach and develop a financial action plan. 

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South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

By: Sara Warden

2 min read December 2019 — South Floridians may not expect a white Christmas, but there are still a plethora of entertainment options to get the kids into the holiday spirit. From Enchanted Forests to visits from Santa, there is plenty for all ages going on across the Miami, Palm Beach and Greater Fort Lauderdale areas. Capital Analytics counts down the top events in the run up to the big day!



 1. Christmas with the Chimps at Lion Country Safari

If you’re an animal lover, this is the place to be on Thursday, Dec. 19. For one day only, starting at 10.30am, guests at the Lion Country Safari park in Palm Beach will be able to leave their cars and watch as the chimps open Santa’s gifts. Entry is $39 for adults and $30 for children, and under twos go free!

Find out more here

2. Winterland at Pinto’s Farm

Located at 14890 SW 216 St, this farm park promises a huge range of activities, including holiday treats, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides and paddle boats. Why not venture into the enchanting illuminated forest and meet Santa Claus, Nix the Snowman and Sprinkle the Gingerbread cookie.

Find out more here.

3. “A Christmas Story: The Musical” at Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Brought to you from the songwriting team behind Tony-award-winning Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land, this show promises to be a festive treat for the ears. The show is based on the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, following protagonist Ralphie’s pursuit of his dream Christmas gift. Showings continue throughout the festive season and tickets are priced at $49-65, with discounts available for teachers and students.

Find out more here.

4. Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park

With over 100 rides, shows and attractions, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is sure to spread the Christmas cheer. Running from the end of October until Jan. 5, the fun takes place at 7900 SW 40th Street and promises 3 million lights and a 92-inch Christmas tree, all within an amusement park. Tickets start at $28.60 for children and seniors.

Find out more here.

5. Brightline for The Polar Express train rides

Across selected dates from mid-November until Dec. 29, families can take the one-hour Polar Express train on the brand new Brightline route. Singing, dancing, cookies and hot chocolate are guaranteed to keep both the kids and adults happy before Santa climbs on board to hand out some Christmas gifts to the girls and boys on the nice list. Prices start from $55 for an adult and $50 for a child.

Find out more here


Spotlight On: Douglas Zaren, CEO, Memorial Regional Hospital South

Spotlight On: Douglas Zaren, CEO, Memorial Regional Hospital South

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — As the population continues to grow, the need for specialized healthcare follows suit. For Memorial Regional Hospital South, the focus is on being able to adapt and grow areas that will benefit the future of post-acute care. Invest: spoke with CEO Douglas Zaren about how the hospital is adapting its practices to meet increased demand while also being open and flexible when it comes to adopting new technology into the hospital. 


What differentiates Memorial Regional Hospital South from the other hospitals in the region? 

As the home of the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute, Memorial Regional Hospital South is made unique by our focus on post-acute care. One of our rehabilitative programs is Determination Drive, where we have created a community with an ATM, grocery store, library, park and a MINI Cooper. We use these environments to help patients re-learn different skills in realistic scenarios. By practicing everyday tasks under the supervision and guidance of our therapists, our patients will be ready to leave our hospital with confidence. We also take pride in our Adaptive Sports program, which helps our disabled patients reach their maximum potential. Different activities, such as wheelchair basketball, adaptive bowling and adaptive cycling help our patients gain confidence as they adapt to life with a disability. Our patients are the center of all that we do, and we strive to help them recover both physically and emotionally. 

As the population in Broward County continues to grow, how is the hospital preparing for the increased demand? 

As our population grows, it is important for us to be able to adapt and grow the areas that will be necessary for the future of post-acute care. This need to adapt is further exacerbated by pressures to provide more efficient care. As a result, we focus on the entire continuum of post-acute care, going beyond inpatient rehab to outpatient rehab, home health and Memorial Manor, our Skilled Nursing Facility. By expanding the capabilities to these providers, more patients are able to receive appropriate care. An example of this dedication to growth is the expansion of our electronic medical records technology to Memorial Manor, which will allow the caregivers to easily see the patient’s medical history. Our expansions of outpatient rehab and home health services allow more patients to receive care outside of the hospital setting, in the comfort of their home and on their schedule. Finally, our continued focus on excellent quality in our hospital still gives those patients with higher needs the care they need through our inpatient rehabilitation services, 

How are you implementing new technology to better serve your patients and physicians. 

Technology is advancing rapidly in all aspects of life, including patient care. We have a strong commitment to leverage this expanding technology to provide our patients with the most modern and innovative care in the market. An example of this is our recent acquisition of a C-mill treadmill, which utilizes virtual reality technology to simulate realistic environments for patients. This allows patients to get acclimated to walking in environments they would see outside the hospital, while still being in a safe, monitored situation. In addition, we help our patients become accustomed to using technology in their everyday life. By training our patients with an Amazon Alexa smart home system, they will be able to use these tools in their homes after discharge to help with tasks, such as turning on the lights and controlling the TV, that may be difficult for them as they continue their recovery. 

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