South Florida Hospital News
Monday June 14, 2021

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June 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 12


Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center appoints Heather Smallegange to the position of Intensive Care Unit Director.

Prior to her time with Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Smallegange spent the past two years as the clinical manager of the telemetry unit at another South Florida area hospital. Before that, she spent six years at sister hospital St. Mary’s Medical Center, as a nurse in the intensive care and critical care unit. Smallegange is a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, with a degree in nursing. 

With more than 20 years of nursing experience, Jennifer Higgins has been named chief nursing officer for Lee Health. She had previously been serving as the interim chief nursing officer.

Higgins began her career at Lee Health in 2000 when she joined the health system as an emergency room nurse. Throughout the years, she progressively advanced through a variety of key senior operational roles before being appointed chief nursing officer. Her most recent position was chief nurse executive at Gulf Coast Medical Center.
Higgins earned a Diploma in Nursing from St. Luke’s School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of South Florida and a Master of Science in Nursing from Walden University. She is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Walden University. 

Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center appoints Jennifer Scott to the role of emergency department director. Scott has over 20 years of nursing experience, and was most recently director of the telemetry and stepdown nursing units. She oversaw a 55 bed-unit for post-op and stepdown patients.

Scott started her career at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, working as a nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit and then moving to the emergency room, before leaving for a new opportunity at an area South Florida hospital. She then returned to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center as director of the telemetry and stepdown unit. Scott has a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from Western Governor’s University.

The North Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners, which oversees Broward Health, recently welcomed three new commissioners. Recently appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis, John Hage, Chris Pernicano and Levi Williams were confirmed by the board.

Hage has dedicated his career to education. As the founder and CEO of Charter Schools USA, he leads one of the nation’s largest and highest performing education companies. Hage also created and oversees Red Apple Development. In 2013, he was named Floridian of the Year by Florida Trend magazine and he participated in the COVID-19/ReOpen Florida Task Force. Hage served in the U.S. Special Forces/Green Berets and holds degrees from the University of Colorado and Georgetown University.
Pernicano has more than 20 years in the FinTech space, with experience in all aspects of small, medium and large company operation, including executive management, technology, operations, human resources and sales. He is the Vice President of Engineering and IT with Netsmart. Previously, he served as Chief Operating Officer of Tellus, LLC. Pernicano has bachelor and master’s degrees in engineering from the University of Florida, where he also achieved an MBA.
Williams is President/Shareholder of the Law Offices of Levi Williams, P.A. He is a previous partner at Fertig and Gramling and is also a member of the Florida Bar. Williams has been heavily involved in the community for the past two decades, sitting on boards such as the Independent Commission on Education, Gold Coast Jazz Society and the Urban League of Broward County. He has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Illinois and a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida.

Cardiac and thoracic surgeon Ahmad Hamzah, M.D., has joined Baptist Health Medical Group North.

Dr. Hamzah joins Baptist Health Medical Group North from Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.
He is a member of the American Medical Association and Florida Medical Association. He has conducted research on bacterial endocarditis, an infection in the heart, and septic emboli, bacteria-containing blood clots that travel from an infection site to distant areas in the body.
Dr. Hamzah earned his medical degree from the University of Sevilla. He completed his general surgery residency at Henry Ford Hospital and his cardiothoracic surgery residency at Wayne State University. He then completed an endovascular & peripheral vascular surgery fellowship at Arizona Heart Institute and a cardiovascular & pediatric surgery fellowship at Wayne State University and Children’s Hospital.

Cleveland Clinic Martin Health welcomes board-certified otolaryngologist Tony Reisman, M.D. Dr. Reisman will also serve as the Department Chair for Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery at Martin Health.

Dr. Reisman completed an otolaryngology residency program at University Hospitals of Cleveland. Prior to residency, he completed his surgical internship at Washington University in St. Louis and his medical training at The Chicago Medical School. Dr. Reisman completed his premedical undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis.
Prior to joining Martin Health, Dr. Reisman was a staff physician at Cleveland Clinic Head and Neck Institute in Ohio. He was also previously a staff physician at Case Western University Hospitals in Cleveland. In each of these roles, Dr. Reisman has educated many residents in training.

Pedro J. Valdes, D.O., FACC, an interventional cardiologist specializing in the catheter-based treatment of heart disease and cardiac ailments, has joined Tenet Florida Physician Services (TFPS) and opened his office in Miami, FL. Dr. Valdes’ is board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine (AOBIM) and achieved AOBIM Subspecialty Certifications in Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology. Dr. Valdes is on-staff at North Shore Medical Center located in Miami and Florida Medical Center, a campus of North Shore in Fort Lauderdale.

Prior to joining TFPS, Dr. Valdes worked as an interventional cardiologist at the Cardiovascular and Interventional Center of Florida located in Hialeah. For his education and training, Dr. Valdes completed interventional cardiology and cardiology fellowships as well as an internal medicine residency and internship at Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah. Dr. Valdes graduated medical school from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, VA. Since 2014, Dr. Valdes has been a member of the American College of Cardiology.

The American Lung Association in South Florida recently announced that Brian Hunis, M.D., from Memorial Cancer Institute will be honored as the LUNG FORCE Distinguished Physician Award recipient.

“The challenges that we have faced over the past year have truly underscored the critical importance of our healthcare workers and our lung health. Dr. Brian Hunis has been on the front lines treating people with lung cancer during a respiratory pandemic, where he provided hope, support and outstanding patient care,” said Lori Adelson, event Co-Chair and owner of HRLaw Pro. “While the world continues to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, we feel that this year’s Distinguished Physician Award takes on new meaning and are honored to recognize Dr. Hunis.”
Dr. Hunis is the leader of the Memorial Cancer Institute at Memorial Healthcare System and a medical oncologist/hematologist. He specializes in treating patients with thoracic, head and neck malignancies. He became interested in oncology at an early age. His father is an oncologist, and he saw firsthand the impact his father had on his patients’ lives and the unique relationships that he shared with them. Dr. Hunis knew that he wanted to follow in his footsteps and considers it a privilege to be able to help people through a very difficult time in their lives.
In addition to patient care, Dr. Hunis is also involved in clinical research and serves as principle investigator for trials focusing on lung, head and neck cancers. While he loves many aspects of his job, the ultimate reward is seeing his patients making memories.

As longtime partners in education, healthcare, wellness, community engagement and more, Lee Health and Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) have entered into a letter of intent to further grow the partnership and create new opportunities for students in our region.

Through the collaborative relationship, Lee Health and FSW plan to develop several initiatives designed to benefit students, Lee Health team members and the Southwest Florida community.
Lee Health and FSW will create different learning programs and internships for FSW students that will prepare them for potential job opportunities within Lee Health and provide a pipeline of highly qualified and trained employees to serve Southwest Florida.
Additionally, Lee Health and FSW will develop programs to engage Lee Health staff in the activities of the college, along with continuing to provide support to current and future FSW School of Health Professions programs, including nursing, respiratory care, cardiopulmonary sciences, radiologic technology and more.
Lee Health is currently the largest employer of graduates from the FSW School of Health Professions in the areas of nursing, EMT, respiratory care and other programs.

Through the partnership, Lee Health and FSW will continue to support undergraduate studies of nursing and a variety of clinical specialties offered by FSW as a primary clinical site for training.

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