The History of Eye Center South
In 1980 Drs. Marnix Heersink and John Fortin opened up an ophthalmology practice originally in downtown Dothan next to the old Flowers Hospital on Main Street. Within a short period of time they outgrew that facility and decided to move out onto the Ross Clark Circle at the corner of Fortner Street where the practice is still located today.
The current Eye Center South building was originally built in 1974 by the Stephenson family and housed Louise Interiors, a decorating and interior design business. Drs. Heersink and Fortin moved there in 1982 because the property was strategically located between Dothan’s two hospitals and in an easily accessible location. In 1984, the addition of an outpatient surgery center (then named Eye Surgery Center) was made to the building. The current facility is known as Surgery Center South to coincide with the campus name of Health Center South.
The building has since gone under 5 renovations since its construction. Most recently, in 2008 Eye Center South began a massive remodeling of the building. The remodeling took 3 years of planning and included the expansion of the entire building. Surgery Center South originally only had 2 operating rooms shared by many surgeons working 6am to 5pm Monday thru Friday. Now there are 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, 2 procedure rooms, and additional space available for future development. It also allowed for the addition of Hearing Center South, located in the front entrance of Eye Center South. Patients now have the ability to have their hearing tested and hearing aids fitted as well as eye exams performed all under one roof. Additionally, patients and family members can now enjoy outdoor sitting areas.
In 1985, Eye Center South expanded to include a location in Andalusia. What began in a small single wide trailer adjacent to the hospital has evolved into a permanent location on Highway 84 (a prime location in Andalusia). Many of our doctors travel to this location for exams, post/pre operation and have the ability to perform surgery at the near by Andalusia Regional Hospital.
Eye Center South also has three locations in Florida headed by Dr. Zsolt Bansagi. The Panama City office was established in 2004, the Destin office in 2006 and the Tallahassee office in 2017.
In 1982, Dr. Heersink and Dr. John Fortin formed a partnership, Vision Care Clinic. In 1995, the clinic merged with Dothan based Southern Eye Clinic, founded by Dr. Martin Margolies. Over the years Eye Center South has added physicians from all subspecialties of ophthalmology to offer comprehensive medical eye care and surgery. Although the practice name has changed a few times over the years .. Vision Care Clinic… Eye Institute of the South and now is known as Eye Center South, the wonderful care patients receive by both physicians and staff has never faltered.
Dr. Thomas Baily is a fellowship-trained cataract and refractive surgeon who also specializes in glaucoma treatments like MIGS surgery and Ahmed drainage valves. He also performs blepharoplasties and eyelid repairs.
Dr. Zsolt Bansagi is a Cataract Surgeon, Laser Refractive Surgeon and practices General Ophthalmology. He maintains residency in Florida as the primary surgeon in both Destin and P.C. locations.
Dr. John Bell is a cataract surgeon and practices general ophthalmology with interests in advanced dry eye care and laser treatment for diabetic eye disease.
Dr. William Bennett is a Cataract Surgeon and practices General Ophthalmology.
Dr. Richard Bryant is a Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon specializing in eyes and eyelids as well as cosmetic surgery such as facelifts, neck lifts, and many other cosmetic procedures.
Dr. John G. Fortin is Retina & Vitreous Specialist with special emphasis on Macular Degeneration and Diabetic retina problems.
Dr. Donald Gauldin specializes in the diagnosis, management, and surgical treatment of cataracts, minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries as well as the medical management of glaucoma and other general ophthalmological conditions.
Dr. Marnix Heersink, our founder, specializes in cataract surgery and laser refractive surgery procedures, as well as seeing patients for general ophthalmology concerns.
Dr. Sebastian Heersink is a Cataract and Refractive Specialist with specialized training in complicated Cataract surgery, General Ophthalmology and vision improvement procedures such as LASIK.
Dr. Austin Henkel is a cataract surgeon and practices general ophthalmology.
Dr. Carole Johnson is a board certified dermatologist and specialies in the diagnosis and management of acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, warts, moles, skin tags, and pre-cancers.
Dr. Jordan Johnson is an optometrist and practices general optometry.
Dr. Robert Leitner is an optometrist with special interests in primary vision care, problem-focused eye examinations, and post-operative surgical care.
Dr. Anthony Leoncavallo is a fellowship-trained Glaucoma Specialist and cataract surgeon with interests in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and cataracts as well as general ophthalmology.
Dr. Irene Ludwig is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist and travels between our offices in Destin, Panama, City and Dothan. Her specialty is Strabismus surgery (repairing crossed eyes and other eye muscle problems).
Dr. Douglas Owens is a board certified and fellowship-trained ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist. He performs special procedures including selective laser traberculoplasty, laser peripheral iridotomy, and filtration surgery.
Dr. Guinn Paulk is a board certified ophthalmologist with 25 years of experience. He has performed thousands of refractive and cataract vision correction procedures.
Dr. Harsha Sen is a Vitreo-Retinal Surgeon who specializes in complex retinal conditions and surgeries including macular degeneration treatments and retinal detachment surgeries.
Our physicians specialize in surgery and diseases of the eye for all ages and we work closely with your optometrist.
At Eye Center South all of our staff, doctors and associates are committed to providing the highest quality, compassionate care for you and your family.
Your Vision. Our Mission.
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“The total experience was exceptional. The entire staff was professional and friendly. They made sure that I was comfortable, informed and taken care of in the most efficient manner. Customer service at its best!”
“I am so impressed with the kind and caring staff with so much expertise in their field. The staff were sincere in wanting to give the best care possible to their patients.”