MANATEE -- Board Certified urologist Dr. Charles Polis is 78. In June, he shuttered his Bradenton practice of roughly 40 years -- Urology Associates.
But if you think Polis has decided to spend retirement playing the ukulele under an umbrella at Coquina Beach you would be wrong.
Polis has volunteered to do free vasectomies for men who qualify at We Care Manatee.
A vasectomy involves tying or sealing the male vasa deferentia so sperm can't enter from the seminal stream, resulting in permanent birth control in 99 percent of cases.
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"I wanted to stay active and that's a procedure I like to do," Polis said Thursday. "I think it is good for the patient."
We Care Manatee Executive Director Jill Gass said she was thrilled to get Polis' offer and of the opportunity to add vasectomies to the We Care Manatee medical services lineup at 300 Riverside Drive E., Bradenton.
Besides vasectomies, We Care Manatee offers free primary care, pharmaceutical assistance, specialty physician referrals, breast health and wellness and a cardiologist, Gass said.
"We Care Manatee provides a unique service that takes care of patients who otherwise would have no other options," said Chad Campbell, co-chairman of the board at We Care Manatee.
"We pretty much offer everything but OB," Gass said referring to obstetrics.
Vasectomies will begin this month and although they are free, patients must qualify, Gass said.
"Vasectomy clients need to be at least 21-years-old or older and below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and are medically uninsured," Gass said.
Patients get to meet Mary, too
Mary Warber, an LPN, has been assisting Polis for 40 years and he has talked her into also volunteering her services at We Care Manatee in her retirement.
"I'm his silent partner," Warber said with a laugh at the doctor.
She said she enjoys working with Polis, whom she describes as, "very easy to work with, very kind."
"Dr. Polis loves his patients," Warber added. "He loves what he does."
Polis has done two or three vasectomies a month since 1973
so it would seem he has comfort zone for doing this surgical procedure for male sterilization and birth control.
A vasectomy will begin with an initial consultation with Polis.
"I will go over the whole procedure and what are the after-affects," Polis said. "I also let them know of other non-surgical birth control measures. I will also do some light family counseling. They pretty much know why they are there."
Gass said she has no idea how many vasectomies Polis will do a month at We Care Manatee. Said she expects most clients typical for We Care Manatee, between 40 and 64.
"I think it will start off slow then catch on as people learn of the service," Gass said.
Polis said he will counsel some against it.
"I would steer a 21-year-old away who came for a vasectomy," Polis said.
Gass made it clear We Care Manatee is not recommending vasectomies, just offering.
"Just like any other health care procedure, we don't force it," Gass said. "It is just one more service available to the community."
Polis said he uses a "no scalpel" vasectomy technique.
"There are certain instruments that make the procedure simpler and easier," Polis said. "It takes 20 to 45 minutes. A local anesthetic is all that is needed. The skin is punctured and another instrument pulls the vasa out and I work on the vasa," Polis said.
Polis said he prefers his patients take the rest of the day off from work, but they can go to work the next day.
"I ask them not to exercise the rest of the week," Polis said. "There is sensitivity there for a week or so, but it's well managed by Motrin or Advil."
The free procedure also includes several sperm checks by Polis to make sure the operation has worked.
"In better than 99 percent of the cases there is no sperm in the specimen provided by the patient," Polis said.
Polis also addressed the notion, which he says is incorrect, of vasectomies changing sexual performance.
"There is no evidence to support the idea that a vasectomy impacts sexual performance," Polis said. "The short answer is that anxiety can produce lack of performance but, physically, it won't happen."
Information: 941-755-3952 or wecaremanatee.org.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.