On the Pulse

Healthcare Heroes Head Into the Holidays With Achievements, Awards and Honors


Autumn is upon us and Central Florida’s healthcare providers are gearing up for cooler weather and the holiday season ahead. Our area’s doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers are hard at work delivering high-quality healthcare to Central Florida residents. Explore all of the awards, recognitions, openings and other goings-on that have been happening at your local hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices.

Watson Clinic

In news of facility recognition, Watson Clinic is pleased to have earned a three-year reaccreditation from the Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care, Inc. (AAAHC), a leading advocate for nationally recognized standards of patient care. The process included undergoing an extensive on-site review from a team of expert surveyors. “Accreditation from the AAAHC is a highly coveted honor because it distinguishes you as one of the top healthcare facilities in the country,” says Watson Clinic Managing Partner Dr. Steven G. Achinger.

Similarly, Watson Clinic’s Credentialing Department also recently earned a three-year reaccreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The Credentialing Department verifies a physician’s qualifications, education record, various licenses, and their ability to perform the services for which they are hired.

The accreditation was granted following a thorough survey process during which the department’s policies, filing practices and quality improvement measures were evaluated. The accreditation is valid through the year 2024.

Additionally, Watson Clinic Women’s Center board-certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon Faeza Kazmier, MD and registered nurse practitioner DJ Alleva Nelson, APRN, as well as Dermatology at Sun City Center board-certified dermatologist Ronald Patrick, MD and registered nurse practitioner Michelle L. Troyer, APRN, were recently awarded “Diamond Level” and Juvederm Tier 5 status by Allergan Aesthetics, the manufacturer of the popular facial injectable fillers BOTOX® and Juvederm®. The recognition acknowledges these Watson Clinic cosmetic specialists as ranking among the nation’s top 1% in regards to their training, experience and expertise.

In services news, Watson Clinic is offering flu vaccinations at a series of Flu Clinics across many of their most popular and convenient locations to Watson Clinic patients. Patients can utilize walk-in, through scheduling an appointment at the flu clinic locations by using the Direct Scheduling feature on their MyChart patient portal account, or by getting a flu vaccination during a regularly scheduled appointment with their Watson Clinic primary care physician at most locations.

Additionally, Watson Clinic announced that Gynecologic Oncologist Richard J. Cardosi, MD and Gynecologist and Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgeon Tarek G. Garas, MD, are among the first group of specialists in the entire country to be granted a Focused Practice Designation in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The Focused Practice Designation recognizes board-certified specialists who have achieved the highest standards in minimally invasive surgical techniques and have devoted a significant percentage of their practice to the employment of these techniques. Such techniques include robotic minimally invasive surgery, radical pelvic surgery, colorectal and genitourinary surgery, placement of mediports, chemotherapy administration, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, painful bladder syndrome and other common pelvic floor disorders, and the management of side effects and potential complications from these treatments.

Similarly, Gastroenterology specialist Lijian Wang, MD., D.Sc. is now accepting appointments from his new practice at Watson Clinic Main at 1600 Lakeland Hills Blvd. in Lakeland.

In research news, the Watson Clinic Center for Research proudly announced it’s participating in an exciting new clinical study that will evaluate whether a one-time WATCHMAN FLX™ procedure is equally effective as blood thinning medication as a first-line treatment for a wider population of patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. The study is being led by Watson Clinic cardiologist Neal G. Kavesh, MD, FACC, FHRS alongside study co-investigators Douglas Ebersole, MD, FACC and Jami Sharik, APRN.

In news of new employees, Watson Clinic welcomed David W. Graham, Jr., MD, a radiation oncologist treating patients from the Watson Clinic Cancer & Research Center at 1730 Lakeland Hills Blvd. in Lakeland; Joseph Coffman, MD, a Cardiology specialist treating patients from Watson Clinic Main at 1600 Lakeland Hills Blvd; Mitchell Kutner, MD, a Family Medicine specialist serving patients from Watson Clinic Main at 1600 Lakeland Hills Blvd. in Lakeland; Julie McNeice, DO, an Internal Medicine specialist treating patients from Watson Clinic Main at 1600 Lakeland Hills Blvd. in Lakeland; and Yelena Kozirovsky, MD, a board-certified radiologist serving patients from the Watson Clinic Women’s Center at 1400 Lakeland Hills Blvd. in Lakeland; and 

Additionally, Watson Clinic also welcomed Registered nurse practitioner Ashley Linton, APRN, working alongside internal medicine hospitalist Chadi Alkhalil, MD at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center; Laura Pellegrini, APRN, a registered nurse practitioner who works alongside Watson Clinic board-certified Gynecologist and Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgeon Tarek Garas, MD; Michnitza Brutus, APRN, a registered nurse practitioner who works alongside board-certified Pain Management specialist Osman A. Latif, MD; and Registered nurse practitioner Audra Adkinson, APRN, assisting patients of board-certified Hand Surgery specialist Ann L. Licht, MD, FACS.

Gessler Clinic

In new employee news, Gessler Clinic welcomed Roberteen McCray, D.O. to its dynamic team of providers. Dr. McCray specializes in Family Medicine.

Gessler Clinic also welcomed Heather Nelson, PA, who joins the clinic as a Physician Assistant working with Dr. Jeffry Hunter.


BayCare: Bartow Regional Medical Center, Winter Haven Hospital, and Winter Haven Women’s Hospital 

In hospital recognition news, Bartow Regional Medical Center was named a Top 100 Hospital in the United States by IBM Watson Health. The criteria that go into determining rankings are a measure of hospitals’ contributions to community health with a focus on equity, measures of clinical outcomes, operational efficiency, patient experience, and financial health. IBM Watson Health is a data, analytics, and technology partner for the health industry.

In new facility news, Baycare had a ground-breaking ceremony for the new South Florida Baptist Hospital in Plant City on October 18. The new hospital is located off Exit 22 of Interstate-4. It will feature 146 private rooms, 26 ICU beds, a 30-bed emergency department, four interventional/cardiac Cath suites, and an 8-bed surgery center. An 85,000 square-foot medical office building will also be built at the site. Construction is scheduled to be completed in early 2024.

In employee recognition news, BayCare’s Bartow Regional Medical Center named Kim Stephens, who is with the Pharmacy department, as the August Team Member of the Month.

In news of services, The Winter Haven Hospital Community Blood Center is currently seeking donations of all blood types. Those who want to give can donate at the center, 460 First St. N., Winter Haven, FL, 33881. The center’s Bloodmobile also continues to make various stops in the area. To find the one nearest to you, visit: https://whhcommunitybloodcenter.org/category/blood-drives

Bond Clinic 

Announced in October, AdventHealth and Bond Clinic are forming an affiliation that will bring greater access to primary care and specialty options to Polk County residents. According to a press release, the two “will coordinate to meet the growing demand for primary care and specialty providers in the Polk market. Together they will develop innovative, value-based care models designed to deliver the highest level of quality care to Polk County residents.”

In employee recognition news, Bond Clinic announced Sharon Flecha as the September 2021 Team Member of the Month for her outstanding performance as a Registered Nurse in the Infusion & Nursing Departments.

Lakeland Regional Hospital

In employee recognition news, Tim Boynton, MBA, the Lakeland Regional Health Vice President of Development and Chief Public Relations and Communications Officer, was named one of the Top 25 Emerging Leaders by Modern Healthcare, a leading national source of healthcare business news and research and data. According to a press release, Mr. Boynton was selected “for his significant contributions in the areas of innovation and financial, operational and clinical excellence.” 

Similarly, Lakeland Regional Health announced that Sheena Butts, MEM, CSSBB, the Associate Vice President of Surgical and Procedural Services at Lakeland Regional Health, was recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of this year’s Top 25 Innovators.

In hospital recognition news, Lakeland Regional Health was again honored as one of 2021’s Digital Health Most Wired hospital and health systems, as announced by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). It’s the 7th year the hospital has earned the Most Wired recognition.

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