SMH Honors Physicians on COVID Frontlines

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. – Sarasota Memorial this week honored its hospital epidemiologist and a team of physicians leading the fight against COVID-19 in the Suncoast region.

At the SMH annual medical staff meeting on Tuesday, Chief of Staff Alissa Shulman, MD, presented the health system’s 2020 Physician of the Year Award to physicians leaders representing the extraordinary work of the medical staff to safeguard patients, hospital staff and the community this year.

Physicians of the Year 2020She began by spotlighting the efforts of Medical Director of SMH Infection Prevention & Control Manuel Gordillo, MD; SMH Chief Medical Officer James Fiorica, MD; past chief of staff and critical care pulmonologist Joseph Seaman, MD; and Medical Director of Clinical Research Kirk Voelker, MD, for their tireless efforts and leadership throughout the crisis.

But she could not stop there. 

“These physician leaders did not do this alone. It took leadership, collaboration and support from teams of physicians they represent who together managed every challenge and complexity the pandemic threw our way,” Dr. Shulman said. “I could stand here all day naming physicians who stepped up to the plate for our hospital, our patients and our community… and I would still have more names I wanted to get to.” 

Physician Team of the Year Award

The Physician Team of the Year Award recognizes the following physician leaders representing various departments and disciplines that have provided care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr. Gordillo, for going above and beyond in so many ways. He was monitoring the spread of the novel coronavirus in China from the very beginning, long before the word “COVID-19” emerged. As early as January, he was working with clinical teams to make sure we had a plan and the protocols in place to respond to the potential spread to our state and community, and he has been the go-to physician to answer countless questions and concerns about triage, testing, contact tracing and emerging treatments since diagnosing the first case in our region and Florida on March 1. 

Dr. Fiorica, for his steady leadership and diligence in managing hospital preparedness and our medical staff response, including making key decisions that helped secure specialists, supplies and resources needed to safeguard patients, staff and our community.

Dr. Seaman, for carefully overseeing our critical care resources and decisions in our ICU.

Dr. Voelker, for his leadership in bringing clinical trials and advanced therapies and providing care to our most critical patients.

Honored Department Leaders

Dr. John Abu, representing the entire obestetrics department and the work they did caring for pregnant patients.

Dr. Sean Daley, representing the anesthesia team and all that it did to help overcome the challenges our OR faced related to inpatient and outpatient surgery.

Dr. Karen Hamad, representing a COVID team she led to help guide therapy and care decisions based on extensive review of ever-changing guidelines and literature.

Dr. Ryan Harvey, representing radiology, and their diligence in staying on top of the ever-changing information about radiologic manifestations of this pandemic.

Dr. Jonathan Hoffberger, chief of surgery, representing all of the surgical subspecialties, for his leadership in all of the difficult decisions we had to make regarding elective and emergent surgery.

Dr. Reuben Holland, representing the Emergency Care team and work they did to triage, test and care for patients.

Drs. Alex Houston, Faisal Keen, Jason Kurecki and JC Vigil, representing the physician hospitalists caring for all of the patients in SMH.

Dr. Ken Hurwitz, medical director of critical care, representing all of the pulmonologists and ICU doctors who provided care to ICU patients.

Dr. Bradd Kaplan, chief of the medicine section, representing all of the medical sections, including cardiology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and more.

Dr. Julie Larkin, representing Infectious Disease Associates and their tireless care for patients fighting both COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

Dr. Sy Rabins, representing the Intercoastal Medical Group team caring for patients in the community.

Dr. Jack Rodman, representing the First Physicians Group team caring for patients in the community and for his leadership in developing the earliest outpatient testing strategies for patients and employees. 

Dr. Matt Thomas, representing our mental health professionals and their work helping employees and community members struggling through these difficult times.

Dr. Jack Wazen, chief of staff elect, who has been helping guide the medical staff as the pandemic continues.

Dr. Wilhelmine Wiese-Rometsch, representing the SMH-Florida State University Internal Medicine Residency Program, and all the work our resident physicians did to aid in caring for our patients.

Dr. Jeff Zacks, representing pathology/laboratory services and SaraPath services, which were vital to ensuring effective and timely care for our patients.