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"To promote the integrity of patient care and public health and to enhance the professional interests of physicians in Broward County”

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BCMA Leadership

Vania E. Fernandez, M.D

I am really proud to be a part of the Broward County Medical Association, where I have found a group of like-minded, passionate, caring and dedicated physicians that have inspired me, encouraged me and motivated me to do more for the medical community. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do every day at my office and at the surgery center. I also love teaching medical students, residents, patients and staff. I feel privileged to have such a meaningful career that allows me to make a difference in people’s lives one on one. However, as of late, I have felt that was not enough. There are so many factors threatening the physician-patient relationship that I am compelled to make every effort to preserve that central piece of the practice of medicine.

I am convinced that the best way to do that is that we all act together as a team. And by ALL I mean you and me. You is a collective, including physicians, nurses, support staff, hospital administrators, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies, government legislators, medical device companies, academic institutions, professors, lawyers, the media and most importantly, the patients. This is not an exhaustive list of the multitude of players in this game we call healthcare in America. If you do not find yourself in any of the groups I mentioned, it’s because I failed to mention everyone involved. Consider yourself included. If WE don’t learn to work together and understand our respective points of view, no one wins the game. My personal mission is to cultivate unity: unity among our medical societies, unity among physician specialties, unity among all levels of healthcare practitioners and unity in the medical community as a whole.

The Mission of the Broward County Medical Association is "to promote the integrity of patient care and public health and to enhance the professional interests of physicians in Broward County”. Our Association unites allopathic and osteopathic physicians, of all specialties in order to secure access to health care of the highest quality for the residents of Broward County, to maintain the integrity of medical practice and care delivery for the citizens of Broward and to advocate for the interests of the patients of Broward County, and for the interests of practicing physicians in caring for their patients.

In 2020, our immediate past president, Dr. Shahnaz Fatteh, creatively overcame the unexpected challenges of leading us during a pandemic. She quickly adapted by setting aside her prior plans and instead established virtual meetings, kept everyone informed about the latest developments in the spread and treatment of COVID-19, addressed the media and organized efforts to support local healthcare heroes. Then, on a night like this in late 2020, she offered her home for a small socially distanced installation of our current president and one of my first friends at the BCMA, Dr. Abby Berens.

Vaccines against COVID-19 were only being offered to hospital workers at the time. Physicians in the community and their staff without hospital affiliation, had no access to the vaccines. We then created a joint effort with the Department of

Health in Broward County to offer vaccines to community physicians and their staff, so they could also be protected while treating patients. More recently, we organized a press release under the leadership of Dr. Berens, where a large group of our physicians in white coats gathered to educate our community on the importance of vaccinations against COVID-19. He was featured on NBC 6 and I was featured in Spanish television on Telemundo. Following this, Dr. Berens continued to educate the public through various additional television interviews concerning prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Abby warmly welcomed me during the first event I attended with the BCMA. Later, we attended the Physician Leadership Academy together along with Dr. Fatteh and then went on to serve on the BCMA Board of Directors. Since then, he has set an example for me as both a patient and physician advocate. I thank him for paving the way for me in 2021.

I would like to take a moment to share with you what lead to my involvement in the BCMA. It started one evening in 2012 when I was looking for a place to have dinner on my first night in a small town in Northern Florida called Green Cove Springs. I had driven up there for part-time work after leaving the University of Miami and before establishing my current practice in Hollywood. As I waited for my table at a Pizza Hut, I was befriended by an older couple, who then asked me to join them for dinner. That couple was Russell and Sharon Jackson. Russ had dedicated his life to public health. He was a former Executive with the Florida Medical Association. Beyond that, he was an excellent Historian, with a particular interest in the History of Medicine in Florida.

From then on, I became very close with Russ and Sharon and we had many dinners together each time I went up to Green Cove Springs. I learned a great deal about the Medical History of Florida from Russ. Russ and Sharon had no children and began to view me as their daughter. I only worked there for two months, but I continued to drive up and visit with them even after I established my practice in Broward. Unfortunately, Sharon was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and passed away a few months later. Russ and I stayed in touch and he introduced me to Cynthia Peterson, CEO of the BCMA, when I began to work in Broward County. He encouraged me to become involved in my county association and stressed the importance of participating in organized medicine. Sadly, Russ passed away this year. In appreciation of Russ, I wanted to offer you a copy of one of his articles. The work is entitled “A Friend to All Humanity” and it was written about Dr. James Jackson, the namesake for the institution where I completed my training in Miami, Florida: Jackson Memorial Hospital.

I am honored to be installed as the 95th President of the Broward County Medical Association today. I look forward to 2022 with excitement and ready to take on the challenges that face my colleagues and our patients in Broward County.

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