WINTER GARDEN Although health care options in West Orange County are growing and expanding with the population, there are some specialized services — such as neurology — that are not yet as widely available.
But with its newly opened Neurology Specialists of West Orange department, Florida Hospital Medical Group is ensuring its Winter Garden- and West Orange-area neurology patients have local access to the care they require.
The new practice is led by Dr. Diana Balsalobre, a native of Spain and a neurologist who has been practicing in clinical and private practice for more than 20 years. And as the month-old department grows and becomes more established in the near future, Florida Hospital hopes to recruit another provider.
“Neurology is a much-needed specialty — not just in West Orange but throughout the tri-county area,” said David Breen, Florida Hospital’s corporate communications manager. “Dr. Balsalobre will provide a much-needed resource to our patients who are in need of neurologic care.”
Neurology Specialists of West Orange practices both at Florida Hospital Winter Garden and Florida Hospital Apopka. Balsalobre is at each office twice a week, with the exception of Wednesdays, when the practice is closed.
Balsalobre, who is fluent in both English and Spanish, was born in Madrid and moved to Puerto Rico at age 11. She earned her medical degree from Universidad Central del Caribe in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, completed her internship and residency in Miami and her fellowship in St. Louis, Missouri.
“For me, it’s rewarding when you see someone (who is) having trouble at home with some of those issues, and they come a couple months or weeks later, and it’s better.” — Dr. Diana Balsalobre
But she and her husband, along with their three children, decided to move back to Puerto Rico to be closer to family. They operated a private neurology practice there for years before her husband decided to try something new — he accepted a position at Florida Hospital.
Although Balsalobre stayed behind in Puerto Rico for a few months after to take care of the office and patients and find someone to continue it, they ultimately had to close their practice.
She moved to Orlando to join her family last July and started her new position as a Florida Hospital neurologist in February.
“For me, it’s very exciting because it’s something brand new; we’re basically the ones (who) are setting this from scratch,” she said. “When I came here (to Orlando), I interviewed in some other ares around Orlando, but then (Florida Hospital) offered this to me, and I thought it was what I really wanted. The community needs this specialty. There’s no one to offer it here.”
Neurologists care for patients with conditions pertaining to the central and peripheral nervous systems, which include the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. Balsalobre helps diagnose and treat patients with illnesses such as dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injuries and more.
And because many of these conditions are chronic and debilitating, she will continue to see many of her patients and their family members for years to come. The goal is to manage their conditions and improve the quality of their lives.
The practice is only in its infancy, but it currently has about 20 patients and is accepting more. Balsalobre hopes the practice eventually will acquire the testing equipment it needs, such as EEG machines, so it can do all its testing in-house.
“Once I get in here, I forget about everything at home,” she said. “I like seeing patients, getting their histories and trying to help them. For me, it’s rewarding when you see someone (who is) having trouble at home with some of those issues, and they come a couple months or weeks later, and it’s better.”
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].