The Story of Southwest Florida Hand Specialists

A question that we are asked frequently is what led to forming Southwest Florida Hand Specialists (SWFHS)?  One might say it was a collision of a number of interesting pathways converging.

After completing college in Florida, Steve Helgemo moved to Baltimore to pursue his medical studies at Johns Hopkins Hospital.He enjoyed the big city life and the experience of being in a world-class medical institution. As a second year medical student, he had a month to “burn” and signed up for a hand surgery rotation.

Steve was paired with a doctor in his final year of medical training- a hand surgery fellow.  This proved to be a pivotal moment in the formation of SWFHS.Steve continued to be exposed to many different medical specialties, but kept returning to hand surgery and to the man who continues to this day to serve as Dr. Helgemo’s mentor.

Medical school was followed by orthopedic surgery residency and a hand surgery fellowship.  By this time, family ties and Florida weather had motivated Dr. Helgemo to consider returning to Florida.  He was hired by an orthopedic group in Fort Myers to be the hand specialist in their group.

His practice grew quickly, and he decided that he wanted to practice hand surgery full time.  Dr. Helgemo determined that treating hand problems represented a perfect fit for his interests and abilities.  His partners did not share his vision and he left the group with the idea to open his own office, now SWFHS located in Port Charlotte, Florida.

Charlotte County has proven to be a great platform for “building” SWFHS into the regionally recognized hand specialty medical center it is today.  Hand problems can occur at any age, but are more common as you get older. The population of Charlotte County is among the oldest in the United States, and therefore hand problems are quite common.

More than ten years after it was opened, SWFHS has become a full service, state of the art hand treatment center, including a staff of nurses, a nurse practitioner, an occupational therapist, front desk staff, medical assistants, billing experts and more.

Dr. Helgemo is now one of Florida’s leading hand specialists with a focus on minimally invasive procedures and he is the number one surgeon for endoscopic carpal tunnel release in Florida performing nearly 450 in 2009.

SWFHS offers the most advanced diagnosis and treatment options available and is now the only center from Tampa to Miami that focuses solely on conditions affecting the hand and arm.  Patients currently travel from all over the state and beyond to receive expert medical advice and treatment from the staff at SWFHS.The medical facility continues to grow helping thousands of people each year who suffer from debilitating and painful conditions of the hand and arm.