Women’s Care Florida, OB & GYN Specialists
ORLANDO - For a physician who specializes in using a robot to perform surgeries, Marnique Jones’ approach to patient care is anything but mechanical. (See related story below.)
“I love one-on-one interaction and getting to know a person,” said Jones, a partner at Orlando-based Women’s Care Florida OB & GYN Specialists. A story from when she was an intern illustrates how making that connection with patients has influenced her career.
While trying to decide if she wanted to go into pediatrics or OB/GYN, Jones said a woman came into the hospital. “She had had a big fight with her husband and now she was alone and in labor,” Jones recalled. “I listened to her and talked with her and labored with her.” Eventually the woman’s husband showed up “and there was a happy ending,” Jones said, “but that’s when I knew I wanted to do OB/GYN. It was that personal connection.”
There also was the appeal of being able to do not only labor and delivery and primary care, but also surgery, which is the specialty that drives her practice these days, she said. “My current passion is robotic da Vinci Surgery. Minimally invasive surgery has been a fantastic tool in women’s health. We’re now able to do major surgeries through small incisions, which allows (patients) to get back to work and their families sooner,” she explained.
Jones is one of 13 physicians in her group, which was founded more than 35 years ago by Donald Diebel, MD and Arnold Lazar, MD. Jones has been a staff physician there since she completed her residency at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women & Children in 1995.
“We’ve all taken on sub-specialties and (da Vinci) is what I’m known for and do for our group,” which also includes six ARNPs among its 50 employees, she said. There are offices in Winter Park, Oviedo and Sand Lake. “We have a large portion of the Orlando market, so our offices are spread out so patients” don’ have to travel too far, said Jones, who does most of her surgeries at Orlando Health’s Winnie Palmer Hospital. She also is a proctor for the hospital, training others in da Vinci surgery, she said.
Jones has a very practical reason for seeing most of her patients in the Sand Lake office; it is closer to her home in Lakeland, from where her husband, Eduardo Gonzalez, MD, commutes in the opposite direction. Gonzalez is a family medicine physician and associate professor at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, where the couple met when they were in medical school.
Jones shared the story of how their relationship evolved. “In med school we were best friends and studied together. Somewhere around the third or fourth year we started dating,” she said. Jones moved to Orlando for her residency at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women & Children. Gonzalez did his at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. They had a long-distance relationship for 3 years. In 1993 Jones was on call in the ER and, because she had a very bad cold, had requested that she be called only if absolutely necessary. Sure enough, the ER staff called and said she was needed. “As I waited in the ER, I heard on the overhead speaker ‘Dr. Jones, will you marry Dr. Gonzalez?’” In disbelief, Jones asked “Did anyone else hear that?” The next thing she knew, he was in front of her, down on one knee and proposing. “I couldn’t say no,” Jones laughed. “Luckily, it worked out and we’re still together.”
Indeed, their union has grown to include sons Eddy, 15, and Alex, 11. “Our family time is very important,” said Jones, 46, who has made time to be a Boy Scout troop leader and serve on the board of her sons’ private school. But she also is most appreciative of the help she and her husband receive from the boys’ grandparents. “My mom is a professional grandmom. She stays with us during the week and goes home on weekends. She volunteers at their school and helps us get the kids where they need to be. It would be impossible without her. ... And my husband’s parents live over in Pasco County, so they are very involved, too.” Jones said.
Family influences have always loomed large in Jones’ life. She grew up in Leesburg, the only child of educators. Her late father Marvin was a school principal in Sumter County, a director of adult education in Brevard County, worked for NASA and ended his career as a college administrator in Jacksonville. Her mom, Helen, was a media specialist and the first African-American hired when the Sumter County School District integrated in the late 1960s.
Did Jones feel pressured to succeed academically? “Well, I wouldn’t call it pressure, but there was some direction to be a high-achiever,” Jones said. “They were the first in their families to go to college, so education was very important to them, and they wanted to make sure it continued with me.”
Jones said she already had decided to become a physician when she entered Leesburg High School, where she was active in student government and co-captain of the cheerleading squad. “I decided early in life to go into medicine due to my love of science and the desire to contribute,” Jones said. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at USF in 1987 and enrolled in med school, where she graduated in 1991.
All along the way, Jones worked to overcome what she described as her “introverted nature,” which she “continues to try to overcome by putting myself in situations where I have to come out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I actively combat it by putting myself out there doing lectures. I talk about how I got to where I am … about being a woman and how others can help you succeed. ... It’s motivational, not just medicine,” she said.
Jones also is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, where she instructs students not only how to give gynecological exams, but how to communicate. “It is a difficult exam because it is so intimate. Part of my teaching is how to be more comfortable with themselves and how to put the patient at ease.”
For Jones, it’s still about making that personal connection.
Robotic surgery takes GYN surgery to next level
By JEFF WEBB
ORLANDO - Marnique Jones, MD, is the resident expert for using the da Vinci Surgical System® for gynecology patients at Women’s Care Florida OB & GYN Specialists. And for those who may have outdated information about how surgeons are using minimally invasive surgical techniques to remedy these problems, Jones cuts to the chase:
“This is not your mother’s hysterectomy!”
Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery in the U.S., Jones said, and approximately 600,000 procedures are done annually. Most are performed through an open abdominal incision. “The majority of hysterectomies are done for fibroids or abnormal bleeding. Endometriosis, pelvic organ prolapse, precancerous and cancerous conditions of the uterus or cervix are other leading reasons,” she said.
The technology has evolved and has improved overall patient outcomes, she said. “Compared to open procedures, conventional laparoscopic techniques allowed gynecologists to decrease patient hospital stays and scarring. Robotic has taken us to the next level,” Jones said, noting the technology minimizes blood loss, patients experience less pain and decreased post-operative infections from the dime-sized incisions.
Jones also points out that for surgeons, da Vinci Surgery adds enhanced precision, dexterity and three-dimensional visualization and high-definition camera views that are superior to the naked eye. Movements are more precise than natural human movement, she said, and the instruments are modeled after the human wrist, allowing them to mimic the surgeon’s every move.
Jones said robotic surgery enables her to treat patients “with more advanced benign conditions, such as enlarged uteri due to fibroids, extensive pelvic adhesive disease due to endometriosis and fertility scarring fibroid removal (myomectomies),” as well as pelvic organ prolapse surgery.
Winnie Palmer Hospital now has a 67 percent minimally invasive surgery rate, compared to the national average of 20 percent, Jones said.
The bottom line is that “My patients are able to return to work within two to three weeks and spend less than 24 hours in the hospital. Open hysterectomies stay two to three days in the hospital and recovery is usually six weeks,” Jones said. “Women want to get back to their lives as soon as possible and (minimally invasive surgery) allows them to do that.”