Finest Doctors of 2020: Memorable Moments From 10 Central Florida Physicians
10 Central Florida doctors share memorable career moments!
Dr. Tanya Haber
AdventHealth Medical Group
As a physician you learn to expect the unexpected, think critically and adapt quickly! I was at a formal event when another guest went into cardiac arrest. It was like one of those classic movie scenes where someone calls out “Is there a doctor in the house?” I ran over to the woman in my fancy dress and heels and started CPR. The lady regained consciousness and was taken to an AdventHealth hospital. It was an intense experience, but I was happy to have been there to help. I was extremely gratified when she recovered and became my patient. When she came into my office for her first appointment, she brought me a jar of Life Savers. This experience put into perspective the role physicians play in the lives of the people who need us most. My daily practice as an internal medicine physician is not as dramatic as that incident, but helping my patients stay healthy has a dramatic impact on their lives.
Dr. Luis Herrera
Medical Director of Rod Taylor Thoracic Care Center at Orlando Health
UF Health Cancer Center
A very memorable moment in my career was with a dear patient—a culinary chef— who underwent surgery for esophageal cancer. We were unable to reconstruct his esophagus, leaving him unable to eat. Forced to use a feeding tube, this outcome became even more difficult to bear for this patient and me. Together with the plastic surgery and bariatric surgery teams at Orlando Health, we found a better option. Using a portion of the patient’s small intestine and microsurgery techniques, we successfully completed a complex reconstruction of his esophagus, allowing the patient to eat normally again and giving him an important part of his life back. Inspired by this patient, I made for him my favorite Cuban dessert for his first post-surgery visit to my clinic. He cried tears of joy at the first bite, enjoying it like nothing before, relieved after completing his recovery and being cancer-free. The grit and perseverance of this cancer patient and so many others amaze me. I am honored to walk with them every step of the way on their journey to recovery.
Dr. Jordan Steinberg
AdventHealth Medical Group
As a urologic oncologist, my primary area of interest and expertise has always been bladder cancer diagnosis and management. I am blessed to meet and treat hundreds of patients every year, but one story from early in my career reminds me of the impact we make every day. In fact, it’s not even a cancer story. A young woman in her early 20s presented with a longstanding history of urinary incontinence and nighttime bedwetting. She was originally from Nigeria and had seen a number of other medical specialists for the problem. In tears, she described her teenage and college years of avoiding sleepovers and social gatherings. After standard testing, a biopsy confirmed a rare parasitic infection of the bladder called schistosomiasis that she had likely acquired while living in Nigeria. After just a few days of anti-parasitic treatment, her symptoms resolved completely. When she came back to the office, she gave me a bear hug and thanked me for giving her back her life.
Dr. Mark A. Steiner
Heart & Vascular Institute
I’ve had the privilege to take care of some amazing people for the past 20 years, but when I was a medical student, one patient showed me how much impact a physician could have. An elderly woman came into the primary care office for a routine checkup. She was relatively healthy except for being nearly deaf from progressive hearing loss. Being a diligent medical student, I completed a thorough exam and found a tremendous amount of earwax blocking her auditory canal. After 20-30 minutes of wax removal, she could hear perfectly well. Afterward, she hugged me and ran around the office and waiting room telling everyone what a miracle it was she could hear again. The caregiver from the nursing home called her family so the patient could talk to them on the phone, something she hadn’t been able to do for years, and share that her deafness was cured. That lesson taught me how impactful one person could be.
Dr. Jaya B. Kumar
Florida Retina Institute
As a retina specialist, I am entrusted with both anatomically and figuratively restoring a patient’s vision. I had the privilege of taking care of an 87-year-old gentleman who required vitreoretinal surgery to repair the retina in his only seeing eye. At his post-operative appointment he presented with a beaming smile, exclaiming, “Doc, you gave me back my life!” He had returned to driving, helping his daughter with business deliveries, babysitting his grandkids and caring for his wife with dementia. Despite the challenging and humbling experiences we face throughout our careers, moments like this highlight the joy we can bring to our patients. We often take our eyesight for granted. Our patients remind us how valuable our vision is in maintaining independence, caring for others and cherishing milestones with loved ones.
Dr. Cedric Pritchett
Pediatric Otolaryngologist and Surgeon
Medical Director of Cochlear Implantation Program
Nemours Children’s Hospital
It is a remarkable experience each time I participate in providing the miracle of hearing. Over the last few years, I’ve been part of that journey for many children and their families. I still remember the look of surprise and amazement in a nearly 3-year-old patient’s eyes—a look that stated “I can’t believe it! Something new just happened!” when her cochlear implant was turned on. Permanent pediatric hearing loss is common, and there are numerous causes, two of the most common being inherited genes or a viral infection cytomegalovirus (known as CMV). As a surgeon, I operate to provide solutions for hearing loss, but I am also involved in collaborating research and advocacy efforts to raise awareness and improve the diagnoses for children with hearing loss. Our children are the greatest gift of potential we have, and we must do all we can to empower them to reach their potential. There are few areas in our community where this is illustrated better than in a child with hearing loss.
Dr. Lorna Brudie
UF Health Cancer Center
As a gynecologic oncologist, I spend a lot of time with my patients and really get to know them well. It is so rewarding to help someone overcome a very delicate and difficult time in life. Each of these patients and experiences helps me to become a better physician. I met one of my most memorable patients four years ago in the hospital. It was at our initial meeting we discussed her diagnosis of stage IV ovarian cancer. Over the years, I learned of her strength and determination to fight the disease. Her grace and positive attitude shined and carried her through those very difficult days. Today, this patient is like family to me and the team at my office. She still visits for regular checkups and continues to be a tremendous inspiration to me with her positive attitude and great sense of humor.
Dr. Miles Landis
AdventHealth Medical Group
The number of moments I cherish as a pediatrician are difficult to count. Thirty-two years of practice in Central Florida has proved fertile ground for creating memories. One of my first young patients in Orlando was an almost one-year-old girl who had significant developmental delays. Her young mom was extremely attentive to her child’s needs and was determined to find a diagnosis. Time went on, and I saw them frequently to treat symptoms and provide support. Both child and mother went to many specialists including neurology, genetics and others. Nobody had an answer, but the child always seemed happy. One day, Mom read a local newspaper article about a rare syndrome being studied by a doctor in Gainesville. She rushed to show it to me. As we read more about Angelman Syndrome it became apparent that this was it, and testing confirmed. The moment taught me a lesson about a parent’s perseverance and their role as an integral member of a child’s health care team.
Dr. Ahmed H. Sadek
Orlando Epilepsy Center
A few years back, when I stood up to greet the next scheduled patient in my office, she rushed to hug me and then reminded me who she was—a woman in her 20s who had been in a deep coma due to nonstop seizures, medically described as Non-Convulsive Status Epilepticus. Her condition was not responsive to all the medications and a few attempts at a medically induced coma. After several weeks and due to her worsening condition, the ICU team talked with the family about withdrawing care and discontinuing ventilator support. Fortunately, I was able to convince the ICU doctors and the family that the outcome of this condition can be favorable; we just needed to be patient and continue working on better seizure control. After a few more weeks of aggressive medical treatment, we got her condition under control. She subsequently spent several months in rehab, before that memorable visit to my office. “I wanted to see the man who saved my life when everyone else was ready to give up on me,’’ she told me. Happy moments like this make all the hard work we do worthwhile.
Dr. Kelly LaFave
Florida Radiation Oncology
It has been my greatest privilege to care for cancer patients. While a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment is challenging in itself, adding in a global pandemic can make it even more so. One thing is certain—we must continue to be as diligent as possible in seeking and obtaining proper medical screening and care. Recently, a patient I saw in clinic had concerns about going for her mammogram due to COVID-19. Ultimately, she decided to proceed and her cancer was caught early due to her screening mammogram. I was inspired that she faced those concerns about the virus with as much bravery and determination as she faced in fighting her cancer. I am pleased to report that she had a positive outcome due to her actions in obtaining an early diagnosis and completing treatment. Her story is a reminder to us all of the importance to stay on top of our health and seek treatment when necessary.