South Florida Hospital News
Friday February 21, 2020

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May 2018 - Volume 14 - Issue 11




Salute to Nursing

VITAS Healthcare of Miami-Dade

Boris Serrano, RN
Boris Serrano is a continuous care team manager and registered nurse with VITAS Healthcare of Miami-Dade, where he leads a team of practitioners, nurses, and nursing assistants who care for patients in nursing home facilities or their private homes. Patients under his care are in crisis, needing continuous, around-the-clock care.
Boris began his studies in healthcare while living in Cuba, then focused on nursing after moving to the United States nine years ago. His career with VITAS started in 2010 as a licensed practical nurse and advanced to a registered nurse with management roles. The multi-lingual RN is an alumnus of Miami-Dade College and Excelsior College of New York.
According to his supervisor, Laz Cuervo, PCA, “Boris reflects a natural leadership ability which has been strengthened by his nursing career path – LPN, RN, RN Supervisor and now Team Manager.”
Marjorie Brown, RN
Marjorie Brown is a registered nurse with VITAS Healthcare of Miami-Dade, where she provides hospice and end-of-life care to patients through home care. Joining the VITAS team in 2002, Marjorie has dedicated nearly 30 years to delivering compassionate and empathetic care to patients with a variety of debilitating and terminal illnesses. She began her nursing career by earning her LPN at Atlantic Technical School, then an associate degree at Broward Community College, and bachelor’s degree at Florida Atlantic University. She plans to return to school at FAU to become a nurse practitioner.
Marjorie is a member of the South Florida Nurses Association and serves in the health department at Maranatha Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Additionally, she mentors new nurses joining VITAS.
 “Marjorie is a true professional who is very supportive of the VITAS mission,” according to her supervisor, Bernadette Saunders, PCA.
VITAS Healthcare of Palm Beach
Joann Wuenstel, RN
Joann Wuenstel is a team manager and registered nurse with VITAS Healthcare of Palm Beach. She has dedicated almost 20 years to providing hospice and end-of-life care to patients in assisted living and independent living settings, joining VITAS in 2016.
Joann’s interest in nursing started when she was a “candy striper,” providing a helping hand to nurses as a teenager. She began her career as a CNA, then acquired her associate degree in nursing through Palm Beach State College, graduating with honors through Phi Beta Kappa. Her experience in trauma—working in ORs, ERs, even a trip in the Trauma Hawk—held no comparison to the calling she discovered through a clinical rotation in hospice.
Beyond nursing, Joann’s benevolence led her to foster several children over nine years. She is also involved with Alzheimer’s and heart walks, often leading a VITAS-sponsored team.
VITAS Healthcare in Broward
Zady Ebanks, RN
Zady Ebanks is a registered nurse with VITAS Healthcare in Broward, caring for patients in crisis who need continuous, around-the-clock care. She started her career as a CNA. After 20 years, she began devoting her time to continuous care as an LPN. She joined VITAS in 2011 at the Palm Beach program and later earned her RN degree at the Broward program. In her current role, she works 12-hour shifts at patients’ bedsides, completely immersed in providing quality comfort care and education.
Her manager, Sandra Tennant, RN, describes Zady as “a true team player who demonstrates time and time again her willingness to go above and beyond for her patients. She is a delight.”
VITAS Patient Care Administrator Jeffery Mack, RN, recalls, “When I first met Zady, I knew immediately that whomever she takes care of, all will be well.”
Grace McDonald, RN
Grace McDonald is a registered nurse with VITAS Healthcare in Broward. She began her nursing career caring for AIDS patients in a hospital setting as an LPN over 20 years ago. At the bedside, she developed great compassion for her patients and knew she had found her calling. Raised in Kingston, Jamaica, she came to Hollywood, Florida, where she earned her RN ASN degree and joined VITAS in 2000.
VITAS Broward General Manager Donna Borland, RN BSN, mentored Grace and compliments her this way, “A tenured, seasoned nurse mentor, Grace educates and works alongside many new hospice nurses to provide outstanding comfort and quality care to patients and their families during one of the most difficult periods of their lives. She passionately advocates and ensures all her patients and families are satisfied and receive the best possible care.”
Broward Health North
Freddly Menard, RN

Freddly Menard, RN, was hired by Broward Health North’s inpatient rehab unit as a newly graduated registered nurse on January 23rd, 2017. It was soon obvious during her orientation process that she was an exceptional nurse and a caring human being. Her bedside manner is phenomenal and she not only provides excellent patient care, but she also ensures that the patient’s family members and visitors feel welcome and included on the unit.
Freddly’s professional growth has been swift as she eagerly expanded her role by being cross-trained as an effective and detailed pre-admission nurse. She was then trained as a charge nurse and is both efficient and committed to quality patient care. Freddly is fondly called the “organizer” as she is known to single-handedly organize events on the unit when needs arise, such as baby showers, Doctors’ Day events and birthdays. She is a true joy to have on the unit and an asset to Broward Health North.
Brent Campbell, RN, BSN

For the past 15 years, Brent Campbell, RN, BSN, has been devoted to the orthopaedic, neurosurgical and trauma units at Broward Health North. During this time, Brent has functioned not only as a bedside nurse, but also as a charge nurse and customer service lead in his department. When it comes to patient care, he strives to produce a comfortable and stress-free environment while always providing exceptional care. It is his compassion and extraordinary clinical skills that sets him apart. For Brent, being a nurse is not a job, it’s a way of life, and one he thoroughly enjoys.
Broward Health Imperial Point
Paulette Sepe, MSN

Paulette Sepe, MSN, is a clinical specialist for med-surg areas and a wound care nurse and overall clinical educator at Broward Health Imperial Point (BHIP). After obtaining her master’s degree in nursing as a clinical leader, she joined the BHIP team in April 2014. Paulette has worked to develop training to help BHIP move forward with quality initiatives and evidence-based practices. She is also the coordinator of the hospital’s NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) program.
Karen Maus, RN

Karen Maus, RN, has worked at Broward Health Imperial Point for more than 25 years in various capacities. For the past several years, she has been a leader in the stress lab and developed the vascular access team responsible for PICC insertions and IV access throughout the hospital. She is part of a three-person department responsible for assisting with bronchoscopies, cardioversions and TEEs. She is board-certified in vascular access and educates staff nurses throughout the hospital in vascular access care.
Broward Health Medical Center
Michelle Henry, BSN, RN

Michelle Henry, BSN, RN, is a rapid response/code blue nurse at Broward Health Medical Center. In her role, Henry responds, treats and provides advice in medical emergencies throughout Broward Health Medical Center. The Rapid Response Team works closely with physicians, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists and primary nurses on floors to evaluate patients who potentially require additional interventions to prevent deterioration. They also educate and support staff nurses, including intensive care, emergency and medical floors. Previously, Michelle worked on the neurology intensive care and telemetry units at Florida Medical Center.
Michelle obtained her BSN from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, where she began her nursing career as a registered nurse in the Women’s Health/Oncology Unit at Hahnemann University Hospital. During her career, she has served as a unit manager and director of nursing. She is BLS, ACLS and stroke-certified, as well as a Certified Alzheimer’s Disease educator.
Adrienne Patino, BSN, RN

Adrienne Patino, BSN, RN, has been a registered nurse on the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Unit at Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital at Broward Health Medical Center since 2010. She began her career at Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital as a charge nurse, clinical coach and certified Spanish interpreter. In 2016, Adrienne was promoted to assistant nurse manager.
Adrienne received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Nova Southeastern University and is a past recipient of the Nurse Excellence Award, recognition given to nurses for their contribution to patient care.
Adrienne has served as co-chair of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Unit Council, as a member Pain Committee and as Team Captain for Light the Night where she provided oversight for to the team for all fundraising events in support of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.
Adrienne describes being a pediatric hematology oncology nurse as “her passion” and feels honored when making a difference in a patient’s life.
Broward Health Coral Springs
Allison Vandever, BSN, RN, CEN
Allison Vandever, BSN, RN, CEN, is the regional manager for the Emergency Department (for both adults and pediatrics) at Broward Health Coral Springs. She also manages the hospital’s “Teddy Bear Clinic”, where nurses educate children in the community and reduce their fears about medicine through medical play. She is a visionary in recognizing the community’s needs and has no problem rolling up her sleeves and helping to get the job get done.
Sandra Porter-Daley, RN
Sandra Porter-Daley, RN, is the newly appointed regional manager of perioperative services at Broward Health Coral Springs. She coordinates staffing to meet the needs of the community, and also works as a scrub nurse and/or circulator. Sandra juggles multiple jobs, all with a positive attitude. She gets in early and stays late to ensure patient and doctor needs are met so safety and quality are exceeded.
Catholic Health Services
Kathryn R. Taylor, RN
Kathryn R. Taylor (“Katie”) has always been an overachiever. She graduated from the pre-medicine program at Nova Southeastern University with degrees in Biology and Chemistry in 2008. After a few stints working as a pharmacy technician, home health aide, and staff manager at a private practice Katie realized that her passion lay in connecting technology and caregivers. She had always been tech-savvy, so when she encountered people repeatedly struggling with technology she realized her calling. Katie obtained her Registered Nurse licensure in 2014 and she joined the information technology department of Catholic Health Services in February 2016 where she became instrumental in the overhaul of multiple systems for skilled nursing and rehabilitation hospitals. Katie is currently working on her master’s degree in nursing informatics. Katie’s passions are soccer, which she played for many years and now she is also an online health fitness coach.
Catholic Home Health Services of Miami
Natividad Ramos Gonzalez, RN
Natividad Ramos Gonzalez has been employed at Catholic Home Health Services of Miami-Dade since August of 2013. She is originally from Cuba and arrived in the United States in 2003. She pursued her career in nursing and attained her RN license in 2006. In 2017 she graduated with her Baccalaureate degree and in 2018 she received her wound care certification. She also received the Catholic Health Service Spirit of Excellence award in 2017. Natividad has made a genuine difference in her patients’ lives. She is dedicated to the wellness of her patients and treats each patient with kindness and compassion. Natividad is able to take initiative with handling any issues that may arise. She demonstrates outstanding judgment, courage and the ability to work with co-workers. She always makes the extra effort to maintain a positive outlook through any situation. She also conveys a professional image and is the ideal Nurse. We are very proud to have her as part of our team.
St. Anne’s Nursing Center
Jennifer Espinoza, LPN
Jennifer Espinoza is a Licensed Practical Nurse. She realized at an early age she wanted to help the elderly and began her career in healthcare by volunteering in her community and later graduated from the nursing program at Homestead Senior High. Jennifer has been a nurse for more than twenty years and currently works as the IT Specialists and Nurse Educator at St. Anne’s Nursing Center and Residence for the past ten years. Prior to her current position, she has logged nearly thirteen years of experience in various areas of patient care (charge nurse, infection control, laboratory and home care). During her years of service she has witnessed a vast amount of changes within the long-term care industry (the good, bad and the ugly). Jennifer continues to advance her career by pursuing her life-long dream of becoming an Registered Nurse and is currently enrolled at a local college working towards her goal. St. Anne’s Nursing Center and Residence would like to congratulate Jennifer on your ongoing success and wishes her Happy Nurse’s Week!
Villa Maria West Skilled Nursing Facility
Ariane Martinez, RN
Ariane Martinez graduated as a Registered Nurse from Miami-Dade College School of Nursing in 2009. She started her career with Catholic Health Services as a nursing supervisor at Villa Maria West Skilled Nursing facility in 2010, a year after the facility had opened its doors. Her leadership skills were clearly seen by the staff as well as administration. She became recognized for her excellent clinical judgment and ability to educate the interdisciplinary staff. She demonstrates a passionate commitment to the nursing profession as well as the CHS Mission and Values.
In 2015 she was promoted to Director of Nursing for Villa Maria West Skilled Nursing Facility where she continues to shine bright for her exceptional nursing management style.
Catholic Home Health Services of Broward
Cheryl Morgan, RN
Cheryl Morgan’s passion to further her nursing career is a testament of who she really is and will take advantage of every opportunity to gain more knowledge to enhance her career. Cheryl is a native from Jamaica who came to the United States in 1991. In 1996 Cheryl became part of the Catholic Home Health team as a Certified Nursing Assistant. During her tenure with Catholic Home Health she pursued a nursing career and graduated from Miami Dade College School of Nursing in 2002, obtaining her Registered Nurse Licensure in 2003. Several years later, Cheryl obtained her BSN from Florida Atlantic University in 2017 and is currently pursuing an Executive Master’s in Health Care Administration with the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Tract. Cheryl is compassionate and caring; she approaches every situation with dignity and passion. Her patients speak very highly of her and often request her as their nurse. She is an integral part of the agency, not only does she provide care to patients she additionally participates in Q.A and orients all new hired staff. We are proud to have Cheryl as a member of our team and she is a true representation of the Catholic Home Health Services Mission.
Catholic Hospice
Samlyne Pierre, RN
To Samlyne Pierre hospice nursing is the practice of love and kindness. It is a heart centered encounter where you give a little piece of yourself to the patient and family and give to her as well; together weaving a beautiful tapestry of life full of love, caring and compassion.
When Samlyne’s families are feeling shattered and hopeless she is there offering her kindness, compassion, respect and dignity. She is there with her comforting touch which eases their pain as well as their breaking hearts. Her humility and honor shine like a beam of light in their darkness.
It is said that the essence of nursing is caring. Samlyne’s trusting, sensitive, supportive, caring heart and protective care enrich the lives of all she encounters.
It would be a profound honor to have Samlyne Pierre walk beside us as we face the uncertainties of life at its end.
Lianet Quinones, RN
Being an Admissions Nurse is a genuine and natural state for Lianet Quinones; without any doubts she was born to be a nurse. Each of the families she has served, feel they have been fully blessed to have her as their Admissions Hospice Nurse. She truly encompasses the perfect combination of compassion, tenderness and knowledge during the admission process which is often not an easy one for the patient or family members.
With her vast experience in the field of nursing, Lianet evaluates her patients thoroughly and provides complete explanation to family members and patients about hospice care as well as providing all necessary resources for the proper care during the process of their loved one’s terminal illness.
Lianet does this simultaneously while transmitting hope and spiritual support in a diligent way with extreme dedication and dignity. Her significant contribution to our Admission’s Department success and Catholic Hospice is remarkable.
Jupiter Medical Center
Tracy Faunce, RN
Tracy Faunce, RN, is the assistant clinical manager of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Jupiter Medical Center. Her responsibilities include coordinating the efforts of the ICU team to produce excellent outcomes for their patients. Tracy has worked at Jupiter Medical Center for more than 27 years and has been a registered nurse for more than 34 years.
Thanks to Tracy, the Jupiter Medical Center ICU has a distinct family feel that creates a sense of camaraderie among everyone on the unit. She treats her colleagues like members of her family, and they describe her as “a lifesaver” and “the foundation of the unit.” The feeling of comfort is apparent in the calm atmosphere that permeates the unit whenever Tracy is in charge, even on the most challenging days.
Tracy attended the Albany Memorial School of Nursing. When she is not working at the hospital, Tracy enjoys cooking and crocheting.
Christina Smith, MSN, RN
Christina Smith, MSN, RN, has worked at Jupiter Medical Center for more than 12 years and has been a registered nurse for more than 14 years. In her role, Christina works in the medical surgical oncology unit at the hospital. Prior to joining Jupiter Medical Center, Christina worked at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital.
For Christina, the most rewarding part of being a nurse is serving as a patient advocate. She enjoys getting to know all of the patients that come through the hospital and providing support for families during some of the most difficult periods of their lives. Her colleagues describe her as the ultimate patient advocate, and someone who is always focused on how the hospital can improve.
Christina received her Bachelor’s of Nursing degree and Master’s of Nursing in Public Health degree from the University of Florida. She is married with two daughters.
South Miami Hospital
Elaine Matias, RN, MSN, RNC-NIC
When Elaine Matias was 14, she realized she would become a nurse after witnessing the professional and genuine care her sister received in a hospital cancer ward. For the last 10 years Elaine has lived her career dream, rising to assistant nurse manager in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at South Miami Hospital.
Elaine, a registered nurse with NICU certification, is the recipient of the National Magnet Nurse of the Year Award and was runner-up for the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award in recognition of her outstanding work. She holds a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies.
“Within our profession we have so many moments that reconfirm, ‘Why did I do this?’ Having the role of advocate for such fragile patients and their families and giving support at that level makes me want to do this every day,” Elaine says.
Miami VA Healthcare System
Kirsten A. Toft-Nielsen, BSN, RN
From the occasional day spent tagging along with my mom at work as a child, to volunteering in the PACU during high school for community service hours, to starting my nursing career as a VA nurse, I have a level of comfort with the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center and the Veterans it serves that is second only to home. Additionally, having military service members in my family motivated me to seek employment at the VA as an opportunity to give back in some way to those who served our country. In my opinion, the Veteran population is a specialty demographic that deserves to be cherished and treated with the utmost care and dedication, both of which I strive to bring to my everyday practice as an RN.
I graduated from the University of Miami in May of 2013 with a Baccalaureate degree in Nursing. While I searched for a job, I volunteered in Patient Safety at the VA where I was ultimately hired in the Outpatient Care setting for the Homestead CBOC. Knowing I needed to sharpen my nursing care skills and admiring the acute care setting, I applied and was selected for my current position as a Medical/Surgical Telemetry nurse. Since transferring, I have been fortunate enough to be presented with invaluable opportunities such as chairing the Professional Practice Council for our unit and becoming a preceptor to Post Baccalaureate Residents as they begin their careers as Registered Nurses.
Tasia Porter, MSN, RN
I knew after experiencing my first encounter with a United States Active Duty Soldier after her return from a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan I wanted to be a VA Nurse. The servitude, honor, respect, pride, and price paid for freedom she displayed inspires me to this day.  My career has been mainly centered in the specialties of Mental Health and Primary care with our U.S active duty service members, Veterans, and their supporting families.   
I am privileged to partake in the mission of this organization as it has provided a distinct opportunity of service to those deserving of the most compassionate, quality-driven, culturally-sensitive, highly-specialized care. 
As a Nurse Manager at the Miami VA Healthcare System, it is my passion and honor to ensure that our wounded Veterans receive quality, evidence-based, cutting-edge Mental Health recovery and care as they have relentlessly served our country, protected our freedoms, and deserve nothing less than the very best.
Florida Atlantic University Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing
Andra Opalinski, PhD, ANRP, CPNP-PC, NC-BC
Dr. Andra Opalinski, Assistant Professor, Florida Atlantic University Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, is dedicated to serving community health needs of vulnerable and underserved populations. By combining meaningful community connections, extensive clinical experience in health coaching and pediatric care, and student learning experiences, she has increased access to care for both adults experiencing homelessness and children in under resourced communities. Her drive to create solutions to care for the needs of persons experiencing homelessness has been recognized by the National Academy of Medicine. Her research looks at the challenges of experiencing homelessness in South Florida. Dr. Opalinksi is currently conducting a study exploring therapeutic alliance between persons experiencing homelessness and community health workers. In addition, given the tragic events in South Florida in recent months and the current call for increasing mental health services for children and adolescents within school environments, she is working with community partners to envision creative solutions to incorporating mental health promotion programs in schools and educational settings. Dr. Opalinski’s work is framed in the perspective of social justice and pairing student learning experiences with meeting community health needs.
Beth King, PhD, PMHNP
Dr. Beth King, assistant professor and coordinator of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program, is researching and advocating for mental health. Currently, she is conducting a study with parents and guardians of children enrolled in Head Start. As part of the study, she is teaching HeartMath® as an intervention to cope with stress, anxiety and depression. While the results have not been analyzed, narrative responses have been positive. Additionally, Dr. King, in coordination with Dr. Charlotte Barry, has been involved in an exploratory study to investigate the mental health strengths and needs of adults living in Bondeau, Haiti. The aims of the study are to determine the severity of depressive symptomatology, degree of anxiety and resiliency of persons. The results showed that the people in this region have significant mental health needs, as almost 40 percent of participants experienced moderate to severe symptoms of depression, 45 percent experienced moderate to severe levels of anxiety, and the resilience level was low for the majority of participants. It is Dr. King’s hope that through her work she can organize activities to advocate, educate and change attitudes and the understanding of mental health.
Doctors Hospital
Laurencia Gonzalez, BSN, RN, CNOR
Business administration was the first career choice for clinical nurse Laurencia Gonzalez. Then she discovered nursing through her sister, who is a physician. “I realized patient care is much like customer service. I fell in love with being able to help people and to make a difference,” Laurencia says.
Her dedication, commitment and leadership as a clinical nurse in the operating room was recognized by her colleagues, who nominated her as the 2018 Doctors Hospital Nurse of the Year. Laurencia, who is certified in perioperative nursing, has worked since 2010 in the surgery department, where presently she performs or alternates the roles of circulating and scrub nurse.
Laurencia earned her Bachelor of Science from Chamberlain University College of Nursing. She received initial training in medical surgery nursing through the Versant RN Residency program at Baptist Health South Florida. She received her associate degree from Miami Dade College.
Cleveland Clinic Florida
Magdalena Blanco, RN, MA
Magdalena Blanco, RN, MA, is a valued member of the Emergency Department at Cleveland Clinic Florida, where she serves as a charge nurse. She contributes to the high quality care delivered by the department’s nursing team, which received the Emergency Nurses Association’s prestigious Lantern Award in 2017, and has embraced leadership roles through participation on the stroke, recruitment retention, and shared government committees.
As a preceptor for nearly four years, Blanco oversees the training of new graduates and nurses transferring from other departments. She has developed training tools, including an Emergency Department Progressive Care Course, which provides a hands-on format for skills development with specialty devices. She has also partnered with the management team to create an Emergency Department Patient Experience Course and an Emergency Department Triage Course for all department nurses and paramedics.
An educator in her first career, Blanco earned a Master’s in Education and Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. More recently, she completed her Bachelor’s in the Science of Nursing at University of Texas.
Rhonda Casey RN, BSN
Rhonda Casey, RN, BSN, is a key contributor to Cleveland Clinic Florida’s ambulatory care and post anesthesia care units, where her compassionate care and patient advocacy exemplify the art of nursing. She leads by example, always going above and beyond to put patients first, making sure they receive world-class care.
Casey is committed to advancing nursing care through the development of educational materials that promote patient safety and positive outcomes. She instills teamwork by engaging staff members in team building activities and through her thoughtfulness and consideration of others.
Casey graduated from Chamberlain University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Holy Cross Hospital
Charmaine Fender, MSN, RN
Charmaine Fender is the nurse manager of the Linda and Henry Haller Physical Therapy Center, Holy Cross Hospital’s 48-bed, in-patient intensive rehabilitation unit (IRU). She first joined Holy Cross Hospital in January 1993 as a traveling nurse, three years after receiving her degree in nursing from Seneca College in Canada. In May 1993, she joined the hospital permanently as a floor nurse in the orthopedic unit. She was later promoted to assistant nurse manager, and then to nurse manager of the IRU in 2015 after earning her Master of Science in Nursing in 2004 and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2003, both from the University of Phoenix. This past year, she helped oversee the hospital’s $500,000 renovation of the IRU, which now features all new, state-of-the-art equipment and technology. Charmaine’s colleagues describe her as a leader who inspires her employees and gets them to follow her vision by motivating them to achieve their best. She listens, has empathy, and builds consensus within her team with a strong commitment to the personal, professional and spiritual growth of each and every person. For all of these reasons and more, Charmaine was recently honored as Holy Cross Hospital’s 2017-2018 Leader of the Year.
Community Health of South Florida
Patricia Philippe, RN II, BSN, MSN
Patricia Philippe, RN II, BSN, MSN, is the Director of Education and Infection Prevention and Control at Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) She was recently promoted to this position for her exemplary leadership in CHI’s Urgent Care Center.
Philippe believes in always treating others as she would like to be treated, regardless of their ethnicity, level of education and social class. Early in her career she provided dental care to some of the neediest communities in Haiti and later focused on education, promotion and prevention of dental health among children and pregnant women in Canada. Philippe has a doctorate in Dental Medicine and a masters in Community Dental Health and Preventative Dentistry. She also received her bachelors in nursing from the University of Montreal College of Nursing in Canada.
Rubis Vergara Ramirez, ARNP, Nurse III
Rubis Vergara Ramirez, ARNP, Nurse III, is the Site Manager/Clinical Coordinator at Community Health of South Florida, Inc.’s South Miami Health Center. Her strong leadership and organizational skills allow this popular health center to run smoothly with multiple services at one location including: primary care, pediatrics, dental, OB/GYN and behavioral health. Vergara Ramirez enjoys working with the underserved population and has fun working with pediatric patients. Her connection to the underserved began in 2006 when she worked in Cartagena for two years with patients who desperately needed care.
Vergara Ramirez has a master’s degree from the University of Miami Family Nurse Practitioner Program and has worked in multiple departments including: Urgent Care, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and at CHI’s School based health centers. She instills that same work ethic and value for compassionate care in her two young daughters. Vergara Ramirez enjoys spending time with her family, reading and watching movies.
Martin Health System
Stan Levandowski, BSN, CNOR
After becoming a nurse in his early 20s, Stan Levandowski juggled nursing and construction work until he knew he had to commit to one or the other. Nursing won out.
Now, with 20 years invested in his nursing career, Levandowski is employed with Martin Health System as Director of Periop Services at Martin Hospital South in Stuart. He continues to further his career and is pursuing a master’s degree in nursing at Western Governors University.
The majority of surgeries performed at Martin Hospital South are orthopaedic in nature; Levandowski said he and his team find this work very satisfying. “When a patient has a total joint replacement, we know we’re having a significant impact on their quality of life,” he said.
Levandowski was recently recognized as a Martin Health Leader of the Quarter for his consistent demonstration of leadership, integrity, compassion and respect.
Carrie Coppola, MSN, RN-BC, ONC
When Carrie Coppola graduated from Indian River State College with a nursing degree in 2005, she started working on the orthopaedic unit at Martin Health System.
“Many orthopaedic nurses had taken me under their wing,” Coppola said. “They were such a great team and I knew pretty quickly that orthopaedics was where I wanted to work.”
As Coppola furthered her education, she was promoted to Orthopaedic Service Line Coordinator at Martin Hospital South in Stuart. Under her supervision, orthopaedic services at Martin Health have been enhanced to include comprehensive patient education on joint replacement surgery and hip fracture prevention and care, as well as the further development of the hip fracture program.
“I enjoy working with patients and helping to ensure they are receiving the best care possible from our interdisciplinary team,” Coppola said.
Coupet Quality Clinic
Theona Jackson, RN, BSN
Theona Jackson has spent nearly a decade working as a bedside nurse in a large publicly funded hospital system and another four years in Quality Management and Process Improvement. Theona knows what truly drives dialogues concerning quality health care and positive patient outcomes. She states that “for the most part, it’s all about how well you connect with the individuals and families that you are trying to help, and your ability to communicate your understanding of their concerns back to them”.
She received her Associates in Nursing from Broward Community College in 2005, a Bachelor’s from Broward College in 2011, and a Master’s in Family Nurse Practitioner from Nova University in April 2018 (boards pending). Additionally; she is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt holder and an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.
She has recently joined Dr. Sidney Coupet in the quest of delivering high-value care using the Direct Primary Care Model. Collectively the duo is tackling and addressing issues concerning uninsured and underinsured individuals. The DPC model ensures that everyone has access to affordable, high quality, primary and preventive healthcare. Patients engage in the “powerful management” of their health not the complexity of health insurance plans. As a patient care coordinator, educator and advocate, Theona Jackson is indeed connecting with patients in our community.
Health Care District of Palm Beach County
Ellen Pentland, ARNP, MPH
Ellen Pentland, ARNP, MPH, Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer, oversees the Health Care District of Palm Beach County’s Compliance Program, which serves to prevent, detect and mitigate any activities or behavior that may conflict with the District’s values and all applicable Federal and State laws or statutes. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from California State College and a Master of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Ellen earned her Registered Nurse Practitioner’s certification from the University of Kansas Medical Center and her diploma in nursing from Jackson Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. Ellen is licensed in Florida as a Health Care Risk Manager and has over 30 years of experience working in hospitals, home care, and managed care settings.
Valerie Shahriari, Esq.
Valerie Shahriari, Esq., is the General Counsel of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County and its subsidiary operations. Valerie has extensive clinical experience from her background as a surgical nurse and hospital risk manager. She served as Patient Safety Officer and Director of Risk Management for IU Health (formerly known as Clarian Health Partners) in Indianapolis, IN. Valerie’s career includes working in the Medicaid and Medicare Advantage industry. She later transitioned to representing healthcare providers in Florida at local law firms. Valerie graduated from Indiana University School of Law in 2001. She is admitted to practice law in Florida and is a past board member of the Indiana Society for Healthcare Risk Management.
C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics, Health Care District of Palm Beach County
Nuvia Rodriguez Machado, RN, BSN
As the Lead Nurse at the C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics’ Lantana Clinic, Nuvia Rodriguez Machado, RN, BSN, supervises clinic staff, maintains patient flow, provides staff training and education, and ensures patients receive high-quality care. Nuvia is passionate about the pediatric patients and enjoys keeping children up to date on their immunizations. Born in Cuba, Nuvia, earned her Doctor in Medicine and Anesthesiology and Reanimation degree at Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Villa Clara Dr. Serafín Ruíz de Zárate Ruíz. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the International Institute for Health Care Professionals in Boca Raton, FL where she is currently pursuing a degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Nuvia is focused on her family and proud that her daughter is following a similar career path in nursing.
Thomas Walczak, RN
Tom Walczak, RN, Senior Clinical Nurse, compassionately treats patients at the Health Care District of Palm Beach County’s Federally Qualified Health Centers, staffing the C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics’ site at the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center where he provides medical care to the homeless. Fluent in Spanish and French, Tom is also member of the county’s Homeless Outreach Team. He treats patients with complex health conditions in the clinic. In the field, he guides patients into care so they receive needed medication and comply with their treatment in a grueling living environment. Tom’s ability to forge patient trust leads to positive health outcomes and helps resolve their homeless situations. In 2016, Tom was recognized as a Palm Healthcare Foundation “Nurse of the Year.” Tom, a U.S. Army Veteran, earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Boston University and his degree as a registered nurse at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.
Edward J. Healey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Health Care District of Palm Beach County
Roma Elliott, LPN
Roma Elliott, LPN, provides high-quality, compassionate care to the residents of the Edward J. Healey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Roma embodies all of the qualities it takes to be an exceptional nurse. She individualizes the needs of the residents and makes the residents and her colleagues feel at ease and secure even in the most difficult situations. She is empathetic, patient, kind, generous, well-respected, and offers unconditional empathy. She is confident in her ability to manage challenges which she addresses with a smile. Roma attended Fayette County School of Practical Nursing in West Virginia and graduated with honors.
Maradona Pinard-Passius, LPN
Maradona Pinard-Passius, LPN, has served as a Licensed Practical Nurse at the Edward J. Rehabilitation and Nursing Center for the past three years. Maradona demonstrates a calm, compassionate, and caring demeanor while attending to her residents. In emergencies, these qualities are also evident. Her assessment skills and attention to detail have been recognized as key assets to managing and averting medical emergencies. Maradona is always willing to learn and goes above and beyond to maintain great teamwork wherever she is assigned. She is a great asset to the Healey Center family. Maradona earned an Associate of Science in nursing from Care Hope College in Boynton Beach, FL and is currently pursuing her degree as an RN while working full-time.
Lakeside Medical Center, Health Care District of Palm Beach County
Skip Warne, RN
Skip Warne, RN, is an outstanding Nursing Supervisor at Lakeside Medical Center. Skip joined our team in 2015. He has a keen sense of leadership, with sound mentoring skills. He is a valued member of Lakeside Medical Center, an independent worker, and an excellent team player. In 1994, he graduated from Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom. His first job was in the CCU at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England. He was excited when he passed his Computer Adaptive Test for his California RN license in 1995. His healthcare career in the U.S. began in California. He also did traveling nursing in Virginia and North Carolina. Skip is genuinely committed to the progress of our organization.
Emmah Bargetuny, RN, RD
Emmah Bargetuny, RN, RD, is a Telemetry Unit Charge Nurse at Lakeside Medical Center. She assists with patient flow, leadership rounding, administering medications and ensuring we are providing outstanding, quality care day in and day out. Emmah has been an RN for three years, two of them with Lakeside Medical Center. Emmah is also a Registered Dietician and educates patients and staff how to live a healthier lifestyle. Emmah often receives praise from her fellow co-workers and the patients in her care. Emmah has an Associate degree from Keiser University. She is studying to be a Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN). As a charge nurse, Emmah is a true leader and team player. She is an amazing resource and preceptor for incoming staff.
Utilization Management, Health Care District of Palm Beach County
Allyn Bryan, RN
Allyn Bryan, RN, is a Utilization Review Nurse for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County where she has worked since 2013. She reviews services provided to District Cares health coverage plan members, reviewing quality and operational efficiencies. Allyn is an American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review (ABQAURP) alumni, certified in Interqual, Milliman & Robertson, and maintains her Case Manager Certification (CCM). Allyn’s prior career positions include Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) reviewer, Director of Quality, Director of Home Health and Independent Consultant for Quality. Allyn was the Director of Business Development for the first long-term acute care hospital in the county, working alongside the CEO from post-construction to a fully-operational hospital.
Mary Parr, RN, AS
Mary Parr, RN, AS, is a Case Manager with the Utilization Management Department of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. Mary, who has many years of nursing experience, joined the Health Care District in 2008. She helps members of the District Cares health coverage plan manage their medical needs in coordination with the C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics. She began her career as a Licensed Practical Nurse after receiving her Associate of Science degree from Palm Beach Junior College. Mary owned and operated her own home health nursing agency, assisted Medicare startup home health agencies, and worked with national Medicare home care agencies as a regional director of nurses and supervisor. Mary is committed to providing quality care for the underserved.
School Nurses, Health Care District of Palm Beach County
Kara Baker, RN, BSN, CDE
Kara Baker, RN, BSN, CDE, has served as a School Nurse for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County for over 12 years, caring for elementary school students in the public schools who have chronic conditions like diabetes. She is impressed at how these young students adeptly manage their illness and deal with the stressors of school—all while maintaining an eagerness to learn. Kara earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Florida Atlantic University, her RN from the Florida Board of Nursing and her certification as a Diabetes Educator from the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. As School Nurse Specialist, she now educates and supports her fellow School Nurses, students and their families so students succeed academically and socially by following their diabetes management plan.
Kate Higgins, RN, BSN, NCSN
Kate Higgins, RN, BSN, NCSN, School Health Clinical Consultant, is a 31-year nursing veteran with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County’s School Health program. Kate became a school nurse in 1987 and in 2008 joined the Health Care District’s team of over 200 School Nurses. Her supervisory experience led to her mentoring over 100 nurses in more than 70 schools. Kate’s acute healthcare experience includes working as a travel nurse, in critical care, and emergency medicine. She earned an Associate of Science degree from Palm Beach State College, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Florida Atlantic University and her School Nurse Certification from the National Association of School Nurses. Kate is committed to her faith and family.
Larkin Community Hospital
Maria Teresa Lopez, RN , CG RN
Maria Teresa Lopez is a devoted and knowledgeable nurse that has been working at Larkin Community Hospital fort the past 16 years. She was born in Cuba and studied Medicine at University of Havana specializing in Gastroenterology. Maria Teresa migrated to United State in 1998 and continued her education this time becoming a registered nurse at Miami Dade Community College. Upon her completion she was hired in the Gastroenterologist department at Larkin Community Hospital where she became as a certified gastroenterologist nurse and has excelled in patient care and leadership. Maria Teresa is an integral part of the Larkin Family and is considered a mentor and friend by those around her. 
Aymé Romero, RN, BSN
Aymé Romero immigrated to the United States in May of 1994. She obtained an Associate in Arts degree from Miami Dade Community College in 1998 and a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of Florida in 2000. In 2005, she obtained her Bachelors in Nursing from the University of Miami and began working on the Behavioral Health Unit at Larkin Community Hospital in December of that year. In 2008, Aymé accepted a Charge Nurse position where she has proven to be an exceptionally capable and responsible leader as well as resource to patients and their families, staff, and physicians. We are proud to recognize Aymé for her hard-work and dedication and congratulate her on being nominated for Nurses Week. Thank you Aymé, for all that you do!
Memorial Regional Hospital South
Audia Riley, MSN, RN III, CRRN
Audia Riley’s goal in working with rehabilitation patients is to see improvement, help each person regain independence, and/or help get them back as close to their previous level of function as possible. Many of those she cares for have suffered strokes, lost limbs, or had traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries.
A nurse for nearly 30 years, the last 11 within the Memorial Healthcare System, Riley is an important part in shaping the systemwide strategic plan for nursing and championing improvement in the patient experience. She also advocates for new nurses making the transition from timid graduate to confident professional.
Riley’s willingness to adapt and focus on the patient experience is what makes her successful, as evidenced by the compliments she routinely receives from those in her care. It’s that feedback that fuels her desire to “Go Beyond” for patients and staff at Memorial Regional Hospital South.
Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital
Carine Sanon Black, RN IV, BSN, CCRN
For nearly 20 years, Carine Black has been taking care of children in the pediatric intensive care unit. Most recently her expertise has been utilized in the CVICU, where cardiac patients, including those waiting for or in recovery from heart transplants, are attended to. (The cardiac program at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital has successfully transplanted 43 kids to date).
Carine, a certified pediatric critical care nurse, has been called a “driving force” and a “difference-maker” by her superiors in helping shape the nursing culture at the hospital. She has taken an active role in shared governance, employee engagement, and is a mentor to others. A champion on the JDCH Pride and Leadership Council, Carine also promotes and fosters nursing excellence through employee onboarding, recognition, and retention.
Known for a compassionate and generous heart, Black plans special events for patients and shares the highs and lows of treatment with families.
Jennifer Blackman, MSN, RN IV, CPN
Jennifer Blackman is a nurse educator for inpatient medical units at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, known for an infectious spirit, pure heart, and humble nature. During her long career caring for kids, she has focused on hematology/oncology and general pediatrics, earning praise by promoting and role-modeling the patient and family-centered care that is the hallmark of the Memorial Healthcare System.
Most recently, Blackman spearheaded a monthly novice workshop for new RNs to enhance skills, knowledge, and to prepare for national certification. She also coordinates and presents during her unit’s bi-annual, pediatric nursing grand rounds. Through these activities, Blackman promotes specialty certification and helps raise the bar for the staff’s professional development. She also represents Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital on a systemwide strategic planning committee, Collaboration and Best Practices, to assure uniform practices throughout the healthcare system.
Blackman has been called “a true advocate for process and policies” by her superiors and someone who “shines” in her many roles at the hospital.
Memorial Hospital Miramar
Christine Jones, RN, BSN, MSN
The ‘aha’ moment in Christine Jones’ nursing career came after she left the profession and following the birth of her first child. “I realized I wanted to come back and be a part of the awesome team that supported me during my own labor and delivery.”
More than 28 years later, Jones is still giving and receiving support. The former happens when she cares for moms and babies and the latter comes from the staff at Memorial Hospital Miramar, a team, Jones says, that has each other’s backs. “The people I work with are what keep me here. Everyone is so supportive. I’m part of a family and I never feel alone.”
Moving forward, Jones wants to use technology to improve the practice of nursing. She hopes to utilize her recently acquired master’s degree in Nursing Informatics to analyze data and make determinations on what’s working and what needs improvement.
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