South Florida Hospital News
Sunday August 9, 2020

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August 2020 - Volume 17 - Issue 2


The Florida State University College of Medicine (FSUCOM) Family Medical Residency Program at Lee Health welcomes eight new resident physicians, who started their training on June 22, 2020. The new residents include Dr. Francesca Blazekovic, Dr. Jenna De Francesco, Dr. Thomas Flynn, Dr. Shane Geffe, Dr. Joseph Guernsey, Dr. Gerard Mulles, Dr. Dakin White, and Dr. Luke Wren.
The FSU COM Global Health Fellowship Program also welcomes two new fellows:
- Dr. Bradley Green, Global Health Fellow – completed residency in Cleveland, OH
- Dr. Alice Shallcross, Global Health Fellow – completed residency in Milwaukee, WI
“We received more than 1,500 applications from U.S. medical students and physicians from all around the world,” says Alfred Gitu, M.D., Program Director of the residency program at Lee Health. “Our program continues to grow and expand with residents who are passionate, compassionate and academically strong. The new class of residents scored in the top 20% in the nation on the United States Medical Licensing Examination, and they are dedicated to caring for the underserved.”

To better reflect an expanded footprint and holistic approach to community health, Holy Cross Hospital, Broward County’s only Catholic hospital, announced it will rebrand as Holy Cross Health.

Holy Cross Hospital, dba Holy Cross Health, has been serving the community since 1955 as a compassionate and transforming healing presence. The 557-bed, non-profit, teaching hospital in Fort Lauderdale operates in the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy and is a member of Trinity Health.
"Holy Cross has grown well beyond the four walls of our hospital over the past 65 years. We have urgent care centers, a robust outpatient HealthPlex, Home Health Services, Clinical Research and more than 50 Holy Cross Medical Group physician practices aligned across our community. In short, Holy Cross is so much more than just a hospital," said President and CEO Mark Doyle. "The all-encompassing word, 'Health,' better demonstrates our brand promise to be your trusted health partner for life."
While the name has changed, the mission, vision and core values remain the same. As a mission-driven innovative health organization, Holy Cross Health is a national leader in improving the health of local communities and each person it serves.
The Holy Cross Health name will be transitioned gradually, first on digital platforms and on signage across satellite locations and at the main campus in Fort Lauderdale.
By delivering comprehensive, expert care to patients with a life-threatening disease, the University of Miami Health System and Jackson Memorial Hospital now offer the first accredited Pulmonary Hypertension Care Center program in South Florida.
“This is a major accomplishment for the Miller School of Medicine’s Divisions of Pulmonary, Cardiology and Critical Care,” said David J. De La Zerda, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, fellowship program director, and director of pulmonary/critical care. “It reflects our team’s ability to diagnose and treat this rare lung condition, including medical therapies, clinical trials and transplant procedures.”
In June, the national Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) awarded accreditation to the Pulmonary Hypertension Program, which provides clinical services at UHealth Tower, the Diabetes Research Institute, The Lennar Foundation Medical Center, The Miami Transplant Institute, Jackson Ambulatory Care Center, and Jackson Multispecialty Center. It is the fourth center in Florida, and the first in the region, to be recognized by the PHA-Accredited PH Care Centers (PHCC) initiative for offering special expertise and raising the overall quality of care and outcomes in patients.
Pulmonary hypertension is a rare lung disease in which the pulmonary arteries become narrowed, making it difficult for blood to flow from the right side of the heart into the lungs. It is different from hypertension – which affects the arteries on the left side of the heart – and can affect anyone, regardless of age or ethnic background. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, swollen ankles, chest pain and an irregular heartbeat.
“Our program is the largest in South Florida, serving more than 300 active patients,” said Dr. De La Zerda. “We take a comprehensive approach to delivering personalized care, including pulmonary and cardiology specialists, physical therapists and other clinicians. We have many ongoing studies and clinical trials underway, and offer support groups to patients, caregivers and families.”
Properly diagnosing the disease, as well as classifying the exact type of pulmonary hypertension, is critical for the best treatment options, added Dr. De La Zerda. “Our physicians and staff are skilled in determining which medical therapies will work best for which patients, and to adjust them as needed,” he added. “We provide a single resource for the care and treatment of patients who live with this challenging disease.” 
For more information, call the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at (305) 243-9383 to speak to a coordinator or visit

Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center is now treating patients with a higher level of ICU care with the addition of the Critical Care Intensivist Program. The program consists of six intensivists and six nurse practitioners overseeing four intensive care units, 24 hours a day seven days a week.  Those areas include cardiothoracic, medical, neurosurgical, and surgical.

“The quality of care in our intensive care or specialty units will have a tremendous effect on the overall performance of patient care at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center,” said Dr. Ribal Darwish, medical director of the critical care intensivist program at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center. “Our services provide continuous in-house coverage to improve service access and establish a culture of patient-centric care.”
As part of providing emergent care for acute patients, the CCI program at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center is the only hospital in Palm Beach County using the Hemolung RAS device for patient care. The Hemolung provides partial lung support independently of the lungs to help patients breathe.
“The critical care intensivist program at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center is a boost to healthcare in this community,” said Teresa Urquhart, chief executive officer at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center. “Having this team in place is a commitment to our patients that we are there for them when they need us most, and we can provide our most vulnerable patients with an enhanced level of care in a safe and secure environment.”

The Panda Cares Foundation, the charitable arm of Panda Express, has donated nearly 20,000 protective masks to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Florida and protective gear supplies still in record demand, the generous mask donation will continue to keep frontline healthcare workers and patients safe.

The Panda Express donation includes 18,000 single-use surgical masks and 1,980 KN95 respirator face masks. The donation will make a difference at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, where approximately 20,000 protective face masks are used per week. The hospital has ramped up its elective surgeries and appointments with new safety precautions in place, but higher supply costs have been a challenge. 

Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. announced that it recently closed its milestone acquisition of GR Companies, Inc.

With completion of the acquisition of Grassroots, Curaleaf is the world’s largest cannabis company by revenue and the most diversified vertically integrated cannabis company in the United States, the world’s largest cannabis market. The transaction expands Curaleaf’s presence from 18 to 23 states, with the combined company having affiliated operations spanning over 135 dispensary licenses, 88 operational dispensary locations, over 30 processing facilities and 22 cultivation sites with 1.6 million square feet of current cultivation capacity. Curaleaf’s expanded geographic dispensary presence now offers access to medical or adult use Cannabis to more than 192 million people, or roughly two-thirds of the United States population.
Completion of the transaction strategically accelerates Curaleaf’s expansion into Illinois and Pennsylvania, which are among the largest and fastest-growing cannabis markets in the United States. Upon close, Curaleaf will hold a leading licensed cannabis presence in state markets including Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, and Vermont.
The cultivation and processing assets in Illinois have been transferred and the formal approval to transfer certain retail assets is expected imminently. Maryland operations previously affiliated with Grassroots may be transferred to Curaleaf after expiration of the statutory hold period, subject to regulatory approval and compliance with restrictions on ownership or control of multiple cultivation, processor and dispensary licenses in the State.
Upon closing of the transaction, Curaleaf has appointed Mitchell Kahn, co-founder and CEO of Grassroots, to the company’s Board of Directors effective immediately. The appointment of Kahn expands the Curaleaf Board of Directors from five to six members.
Kahn co-founded Grassroots Cannabis in 2014 and brings more than 20 years of senior executive experience. He currently serves as Principal and CEO of Frontline Real Estate Partners, for which he is also a Founder, and previously served as President and CEO of Hilco Real Estate. Mr. Kahn is a CPA, as well as an attorney who has formerly practiced real estate law. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, School of Business and Northwestern University, School of Law.
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