Heather, who has adult congenital heart disease, and her daughter, Lily, who was born prematurely.

Care for Life

Heather and Her Babies Receive Life-Saving Care at Memorial

Heather was born with a congenital heart condition called tetralogy of Fallot, which affects blood flow to the heart. A Memorial patient for years, she relied on various specialists throughout her life, especially when she began growing her family.

When Heather became pregnant the first time, she was considered a high-risk pregnancy due to her heart condition and was followed by the Maternal Fetal Medicine team.

Then she began coughing up blood. Thoracic surgeons from Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute performed surgery to remove part of her lungs, resolving the problem for the duration of the pregnancy.

When Heather became pregnant again, the problem returned. During a bronchoscopy to look at her lungs, Heather began bleeding. Luckily, her multidisciplinary team leaped into action.

Within a minute, the obstetrician performed a cesarean section. As soon as the baby was delivered, the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) team connected Heather to life-saving treatment that would take over for her lungs so they could rest and heal.

Heather remained on ECMO for a few days under the care of cardiac, thoracic and ECMO teams. Her daughter, Lily, was cared for in the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, just like her older brother had been, and received care from a team of pediatric specialists.

“It was nice to have everyone here, to help me but my children as well,” Heather says. “They’re an amazing team. For them to have my back was a great relief. It was nice to know they were looking out for me and for my family.”


Caring for the Body, Mind and Spirit of the Community

Innovative programs and initiatives at Memorial are addressing critical health issues including maternal and postpartum health for Black women, social issues that affect people’s health and improving care for people with sickle cell disease.

“This year, while other people were talking about serious health issues, we took action,” says Melida Akiti, vice president of the Ambulatory Program and Community Services at Memorial Primary Care. “At Memorial, we have done something to help address these concerns and continue to iterate and innovate based on results and data to improve the health of the community.”

“Memorial has positioned itself as a leader in addressing maternal health disparities by initiating interventions to effect change”

Bennett, MD

Chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine

Improving Maternal Care for Black Women

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Black women in the U.S. are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. Memorial is tackling issues affecting Black maternal health outcomes through a comprehensive approach that improves:

  • Access to high-quality care before, during and after pregnancy, including specialized care for high-risk women
  • Access to behavioral health services
  • Diversity in the healthcare workforce, including the hiring of two Black women as Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists to lead systemwide initiatives aimed at eliminating maternal health disparities

In addition, the OB Hypertension Navigator is addressing postpartum care for women of color who are at higher risk of preeclampsia, a serious blood pressure condition that can develop during pregnancy or after birth. After noticing trends in women of color developing high blood pressure up to a year after delivery, Memorial began educating women about the risks and warning signs and monitoring their blood pressure for a year after birth to improve outcomes.

“Memorial has positioned itself as a leader in addressing maternal health disparities by initiating interventions to effect change,” says Terri-Ann Bennett, MD, chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine. “From the creation of a Maternal Fetal Medicine division led by a female physician from a marginalized background to the evolution of our fetal, maternal and hypertension navigation programs, and the development of a fetal care center, we not only lead with our heart, but we lead by example.”

Wraparound Care for the Health of the Community

Memorial Primary Care is adding new clinics around Broward County to increase access to care, while also addressing other issues that can impact health.

As of August 2022, all primary care practices through Memorial assess and screen patients at risk for transportation, food, financial, housing and violence concerns. Known as social determinants of health, these are environmental conditions in which people are born, live, grow and age, and that shape and influence their daily life, including their health.

“Up to 80 percent of issues affecting health are due to social determinants of health,” says Melida Akiti, vice president of the Ambulatory Program and Community Services at Memorial Primary Care. “Medical care accounts for about 20 percent of outcomes, but that can all collapse if we do not address that underlying 80 percent.”

At-risk patients are referred for further assessment and connection to resources. Memorial also continues to support, collaborate and partner with nonprofit community organizations specializing in addressing these social issues, such as food banks for food insecurity, organizations combatting homelessness and a new liaison at the county.

One Pill Can Kill Campaign

Memorial takes seriously its role as community health champion. So, in collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Agency and multiple community partners, Memorial launched a public service campaign to alert teens, parents and the community at large about the deadly dangers of fentanyl-laced counterfeit drugs.

These drugs have led to an alarming number of deaths in South Florida and across the nation. According to the federal agency, Broward County leads the state in fentanyl-related deaths.

Leveraging the national One Pill Can Kill initiative, the local campaign alerted the public to the prevalence and dangers of tasteless, odorless drugs like fentanyl that lace fake prescription pills and are often sold online. Memorial developed an ongoing, multi-channel campaign for print, video and digital ads, plus social media public safety messages and a virtual community town hall.

Along with the Drug Enforcement Agency, eight community partners supported the campaign, including the Broward County Council PTA/PTSA, Broward Education Foundation, Broward Sherriff’s Office and United Way of Broward County.

New Medical Home for Patients with Sickle Cell

Memorial has opened a new Sickle Cell Day Center in a renovated, standalone primary care building across from Memorial Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department. The goal: to provide collaborative, comprehensive care to meet all the unique needs of patients with sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell is a genetic blood disorder that affects an estimated 200,000 Americans and can lead to pain and complications due to irregular red blood cells that reduce blood flow throughout the body.

Foluso “Joy” Ogunsile, MD, a physician specializing in hematology, was named Medical Director of the new center in January.

“At Memorial, we’ve combined all the resources of our day hospital, primary care, hematology and social services in one location to help patients stay healthy enough so they do not need to be admitted to the hospital,” says Todra Anderson-Rhodes, MD, chief medical officer of Memorial Hospital Miramar who has led the health system’s Sickle Cell Task Force since 2021. “We’re also able to provide continuity of care when they do need inpatient care and can also connect patients with the resources they need in the community through a health coaching system.”

The center includes infusion suites, equipment and furniture for patients coping with the effects of the disease. A $280,000 contribution from the Memorial Foundation made it possible to relocate and expand the former day hospital.

Patient Story

Memorial Helps Samantha Live Life with Sickle Cell

Samantha has been dealing with sickle cell — a genetic, hereditary blood disease — her whole life. At a young age, she had both hips replaced due to loss of blood flow to her joints and continues to deal with pain and crises from the disease.

“The pain is very excruciating,” Samantha says. “You can be fine one moment, and then the next moment you can have pain all over your body.”

Samantha started coming to Memorial 10 years ago and says the support changed her life.

“They take your whole life into consideration,” says Samantha. “You’re not just your medicine or your disease. Memorial is great for just the support, the compassion and the love.”

Memorial Cancer Institute

Growing Stronger Together

Memorial Cancer Institute’s new, freestanding facility, expected to open in fall 2023, is ushering in a new era of cancer care in South Florida. 

Located on the campus of Memorial Hospital West, the four-floor cancer center will consolidate resources and services and be a true place for healing with outpatient treatment and support services, all under one roof. Here, the cancer team will provide personalized cancer care with oncology nurse navigators to guide patients through cutting-edge cancer treatments, clinical trials and research that provides access to breakthroughs in treatment.

The Memorial Foundation is working with generous community partners supporting the new center, including AutoNation, which has made a $1 million donation.

Memorial Cancer Institute is one of the largest cancer centers in Florida and the largest in Broward County. Through a research alliance with Florida Atlantic University, Memorial Cancer Institute is among a select group of Florida-designated Cancer Centers of Excellence.

Solis Partnership Enhances Access to Breast Screenings

Memorial has joined forces with Solis Mammography — the nation’s largest independent provider of breast screening and diagnostic services — to expand access to high-quality, patient-focused breast healthcare and to make screenings more convenient for patients. Solis now manages screenings at Memorial’s four women’s imaging centers in Hollywood, Pembroke Pines and Miramar.

A Game-Changer for Pancreatic Cancer Patients

Memorial is one of the few hospital systems in Florida performing Whipple surgery robotically for patients with pancreatic cancer, offering a minimally invasive option for a complex procedure that is often someone’s best chance for long-term survival.

Patients with pancreatic cancer have few options, and only a small subset of patients are candidates for the Whipple surgery, which aims to remove the disease. It’s a complex procedure that involves removing the head of the pancreas, the duodenum, a portion of the bile duct, the gallbladder and lymph nodes. Then the liver, small intestine and stomach all need to be reconnected with hairlike sutures in soft tissue.

Our mission remains constant: to get us closer to a future in which cancer treatment is personalized and offer a research opportunity to each patient. By recognizing the next generation of scientific trials and therapeutic choices, we will open new horizons and bring hope to countless lives in our community.”

Andres Alvarez Pinzon, MD, PhD
Director of Oncology Research Program

Fewer than 18,000 Whipple procedures were performed in the U.S. between 2004-17, according to the National Cancer Database, with fewer than 400 of them done using robot assistance. Minimally invasive surgeries result in less blood loss, less pain and quicker recoveries when compared to traditional, open procedures.

Florida’s First Patient-Centered Oncology Medical Home

Memorial Cancer Institute is the only site in Florida and one of 12 sites nationally to earn the prestigious Oncology Medical Home Patient-Centered Cancer Care Certification, a value-based care model pilot by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Developed by the society and the Community Oncology Alliance, the certification is based on rigorous standards focused on seven domains of cancer care: patient engagement; availability and access to care; evidence-based medicine; equitable and comprehensive team-based care; quality improvement; goals of care and palliative and end-of-life care; and chemotherapy safety.

Advancing Cancer Care Through Research

Cancer research continues to advance and improve patient care and treatment results. Exciting new studies and clinical trials have been launched, concentrating on revolutionary therapeutic approaches and investigating promising biomarkers for early detection, with a focus on solid tumors, lung cancer and breast cancer.

And dedication to the human aspect of cancer care has never wavered. To address disparities in access to cutting-edge research, Memorial established the first breast cancer biorepository for minorities in South Florida, through collaboration with Florida Atlantic University.

The Institute is participating in multiple, new, state-of-the-art phase 1/2 clinical trials. These studies focus on genetic abnormalities and leverage the promise of artificial intelligence and big data analytics to promote precision medicine improvements. These initiatives have resulted in tailored treatment programs that are transforming patient care, improving both outcomes and quality of life.

Beneficial collaborations with top universities such as Florida Atlantic University, as well as our continuous participation in the National Cancer Institute's Alliance, pave the way for cross-disciplinary advances that promise to help cancer patients in the community and around the world.

David, who had lung cancer, with Luis Raez, MD.


Jade Abbott, who received a ventricular assist device, with Jose Garcia, MD.

Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute

Caring for the Hearts of Our Community

VAD Program Doubles Patients Served

Jose P. Garcia, MD, a Harvard-educated and fellowship-trained cardiothoracic surgeon, was named Chief of Adult Heart Transplant Surgery and Mechanical Circulatory Support. He joined the team in May 2023 with a vision to expand patient volume and maintain the highest level of quality for this important community service.

“Every year, our comprehensive program continues to grow as we strengthen our commitment to the community. Everything is a team effort, and our patients benefit from our collective expertise and experience, improving our outcomes.”

Michael Cortelli, MD
Chief, Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute

Under Dr. Garcia’s leadership, we have doubled the number of ventricular assist device implants — called VAD for short. These devices serve both as a bridge to patients awaiting heart transplants and long-term support to those with heart failure that may not be amenable to transplant. Over the course of his career, Dr. Garcia has personally implanted more than 700 VADs and transplanted approximately 300 hearts. He was also named one of America’s Top Surgeons for five consecutive years by the Consumers’ Research Council of America.

“Memorial is one of only two facilities in South Florida performing adult heart transplants and is known to deliver excellent outcomes.” Dr. Garcia says. “As leader of the heart transplant and ventricular assist device programs, my goal is to make this option available to those in need and ensure they receive the best care and achieve optimal outcomes.”

Memorial Launches Clinic for Patients With 22Q

DiGeorge syndrome, also known as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, is a chromosomal abnormality that can result in developmental delay, muscular issues and congenital heart anomalies. Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute, paired with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, is one of the few centers with the personnel and expertise to assist these patients across their lifespan. Currently, it is the only clinic in the country providing both pediatric and adult care for this complex syndrome at the same institution.

Expanding Options for Chronic Heart Disease

Chronic total occlusion is a complete or nearly complete blockage of one or more coronary arteries. The blockage typically presents for three months or more and is generally not amenable to conventional intervention.

At Memorial, interventional specialists like Bassel Ibrahim, MD, an Interventional Cardiologist and Medical Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Memorial Hospital West, have years of experience employing the specialized tools and techniques developed to treat this challenging condition. Patients are frequently referred to Dr. Ibrahim from other centers because of his reputation for excellence and his stellar outcomes.

“We work together to provide the expert care that our patients and the community have come to depend on us for. We continue to listen to the cardiology needs and meet them with excellence.”

Ralph Levy, MD
Chief, Adult Cardiac Medical Services

New Interventional Cardiologist Joins Structural Heart Program

Houman Khalili, MD, joined our interventional cardiology team in October 2022. Dr. Khalili completed a fellowship in structural heart and is a welcome addition to the busy and growing interventional cardiology/structural heart program. Structural heart refers to conditions that are defects or abnormalities in the heart's structure, which can affect the valves, walls or tissues. Dr. Khalili and the other cardiologists and surgeons comprising the structural heart team bring their collaborative, multidisciplinary approach and expertise to minimally invasive structural heart procedures.

ECMO Program Continues to Save Lives

Memorial’s extracorporeal membrane oxygenation program, called ECMO for short, has treated more than 240 patients since launching in 2015, providing life-saving care with strong outcomes. Memorial’s program currently has a mortality rate favorable to the national average as reported by Extracorporeal Life Support Organization.

ECMO is an advanced therapy that uses a machine to temporarily replace the function of the heart and lungs of critically ill patients recovering from severe lung damage or cardiogenic shock. Memorial Regional Hospital and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital have each been recognized by the organization with the Center of Excellence ELSO Gold Level Award for Excellence in Life Support.

Patient Story

ECMO Saves Maria During Pregnancy

Maria, who received ECMO life support.

Maria was in El Salvador preparing to welcome her third child via a planned Caesarean section when she began coughing and vomiting. She became so ill that she had to go on life support.

When medical teams told her family she required lifesaving care, Maria was flown to Memorial. Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute’s mobile extracorporeal membrane oxygenation team traveled to South Miami and brought her to Memorial Regional Hospital, where critical care specialists and advanced heart failure and transplant physicians took over.

“She was very sick with multiple of her systems in failure,” says I-wen Wang, MD, Chief of Surgical ECMO Services. “She was literally dying in front of our eyes.”

The ECMO took over the function of her heart and lungs so they could recover, which enabled Maria to go from deathly ill to full recovery.

“Thanks to ECMO, I’m here,” Maria says. “It saved my life.”

“Our commitment to our cardiac patients and their families has been the driving force as we continue to push the boundaries of TotalHeart care. Our blend of state-of-the-art technology, expertise and heart has made us a destination for world-class and compassionate care.”

Juan Plate, MD
Chief, Adult Cardiac Surgical Services

Patient Story

Cardiac Care During Pregnancy: Kika’s Story

Kika, who had pregnancy-related heart symptoms, and her wife, Rita

After 15 rounds of IVF treatments, Kika and her wife, Rita, were thrilled to be pregnant, but when Kika began experiencing dizzy spells and heart palpitations, her wife encouraged her to visit her cardiologist at Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute.

Inbar Saporta, MD, Clinical Cardiologist who also specializes in cardiac obstetrics, was able to see her right away. Specialists at the Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute assist in the care of women with high-risk pregnancies, which is critical since cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the U.S.

“Up to two-thirds of maternal-related deaths related to cardiovascular disease are preventable,” says Dr. Saporta.

Dr. Saporta gave Kika techniques to calm her heart rate down and monitored her throughout the pregnancy.

“I already had a trust level with her and the whole team, and it feels so good to have that kind of cohesion,” Rita says.

“It’s like a little family,” Kika says about her care team.

The couple’s daughter, Teresa Anna, was born a few months later at Memorial at a hearty 10 pounds 1 ounce. She spent her first few days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit being cared for by pediatric specialists at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

3-star ratings for CABG, MVRR and CABG + MVRR from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS)

Adult and Pediatric ECMO programs earned Gold Center of Excellence ELSO Awards

Adult Echocardiography Accreditation from Intersocietal Accreditation Commission

Destination Therapy for Ventricular Assist Device Accreditation

Adult Congenital Heart Disease Accreditation

Centers of Excellence (COE) for ACHD

American College of Cardiology awards 4-star rating for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention for MRH and MHW

Memorial Healthcare System Cardiac program receives accreditation for Heart Failure


Members of the care team and a patient cut the ribbon during opening of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital’s new floors.

Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital

Children’s Hospital Makes Room for More Love and Healing

After years of dreaming, planning and construction, patients and their families were moved into the new patient care units at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital on Nov. 8, 2022.

The $166 million expansion project doubled the hospital’s size, increasing it from four to eight floors. It was completed on time and within budget, despite complications brought on by the pandemic and subsequent supply-chain issues.

Moving patients into the new units was another complex project, requiring hours of planning and collaboration among medical teams. In typical fashion, Moving Day was turned into a good time with patients serenaded and celebrated by the Child Life Team and the hospital’s resident clown and Chief Fun Officer, Lotsy Dotsy.

“Our expansion is spectacular in every way. Not only is it state-of-the-art, but it is also a beautiful, healing, fun and child-friendly environment,” says Caitlin Stella, CEO of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “This was a labor of love in every way — built with our kids and their needs in mind, designed by parents and countless team members, and brought to life through the generosity and love of the community. We are grateful.”

Norman Wedderburn, CEO of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital CEO Caitlin Stella and Brett Rose, Chairman, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation

The Power of Love

More than a third of the expansion project was funded by generous donors through the Catch the Love campaign undertaken by the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation.

The campaign was chaired by foundation chair Brett Rose and supported by generous community members who understood the importance of having an advanced children’s hospital close to home.

Lily, who was born prematurely

Wasie NICU Certified to Care for Most Critically Ill Newborns

The Wasie Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is now designated as a Level IV NICU — the only one in Broward County. Level IV NICUs offer the highest level of specialized medical and surgical care available for newborns and infants born prematurely or in distress. The multidisciplinary teams at the children’s hospital and Memorial provide complex and compassionate care to more than 1,500 neonates each year and receive newborns from neighboring hospitals in South Florida and internationally.

Parker, who has a rare genetic disorder, with her dad and Amanda Porro, MD

Center for Complex Care Continues to Grow

The Center for Complex Care at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital has moved into its new location on the fifth floor of the hospital and is expanding staff and patients in need of specialized, coordinated care. The center, which has formed as an alliance with Boston Children’s Hospital, provides high-level care for children with multiple health conditions and rare diseases who rely on several pediatric experts and/or need specialized medication and equipment.

In 2023, a new advanced registered nurse practitioner joined the staff to provide care and coordination for children among specialists, and the multidisciplinary program for patients with vascular anomalies celebrated its first anniversary.

A National Leader in Children’s Orthopedics, Cardiology & Heart Surgery

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital once again achieved national recognition as a Best Children’s Hospital for 2022-23, ranking among the top 50 children’s hospitals in the nation for Orthopedics and for Cardiology and Heart Surgery.

“Our Orthopedic Center can take care of pretty much every single aspect of orthopedic care for kids, from the moment they are born into young adulthood. The breadth and depth of our program makes us unique in South Florida and the Southeast U.S.”

Jeremy S. Frank, MD
Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, Sports Medicine Specialist, Team Physician for US Wrestling

Orthopedic Specialists Care For Student Athletes to the Olympics

The Department of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery was ranked as one of the best programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report and achieved the highest ranking of all children’s hospitals in Florida.

Comprised of 12 physicians and 6 advanced practice providers, the department has comprehensive programs in spinal deformity, hip preservation, hand and upper extremity, limb deformity and general pediatric orthopedics.

The department also, through its internationally known Sports Medicine U18, provides care for student-athletes in Broward and Palm Beach counties school systems, as well as for the most elite national athletes, representing the United States of America in gymnastics, soccer, snowboarding, figure skating and wrestling.

Jeremy Frank, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, is the head team physician for the U.S. National Wrestling team. He has provided coverage around the globe at the last three World Championships and is on track to be the team physician at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Matthew Fazekas, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric Sports Medicine Program, will once again be the head team physician at the prestigious 2024 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

And Michael Dressing, MD, Pediatric Sports Medicine Specialist and the team physician for the Major League Baseball Washington Nationals spring training season, will be the team physician for both the World Cup Trampoline and Training Competition, an Olympic qualifying event for Paris 2024, and the Stars and Stripes Competition, the national championship for trampoline and tumbling youth teams in the U.S.

Patient Story

Life-Saving Surgery for a Rare Condition Gives Grace a Bright Future

Grace was born with an extremely rare condition called microgastria with limb reduction syndrome. She spent her first months of life in the NICU as her parents searched for answers. They found the expert care and guidance they needed at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and discovered Grace required major abdominal surgery.

“I distinctly remember that day and the magnitude of the news I had to deliver,” says Jill Whitehouse, MD, Vice Chief of Pediatric Surgery.

“It was a very emotional moment, but we trusted her,” remembers Grace’s mom.

The surgery went well, and Grace is excelling in speech and feeding therapy, as well as navigating the world with one arm.

“Dr. Whitehouse saved her life,” her dad says.

Memorial Neuroscience Institute

A South Florida First for Parkinson’s Disease

Memorial Neuroscience Institute is the first in South Florida to offer a robotic-assisted deep brain stimulation surgery while a patient is asleep to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Traditional brain stimulation surgery can be painful and unpleasant for patients who are awake during the procedure, in which a neurosurgeon implants electrodes in a specific area of the brain to treat tremors and symptoms of stiffness and slowness for those with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.

“By coupling our team’s expertise with robotic innovation like the ROSA, we are offering our patients a comfortable, safe surgical procedure that generally requires only one night in the hospital and offers them long-term relief.”

Christopher DeMassi, MD
Chief of Memorial Neuroscience Institute

Using the Robotic Surgical Assistant, called ROSA, and an intraoperative CT scan to precisely target and verify accurate positioning of the electrodes, the procedure can now be performed while the patient is comfortably asleep under general anesthesia.

Brijesh Mehta, MD, and Haris Kamal, MD, review a stroke scan

Two More Memorial Hospitals Recognized for Expert Stroke Care

Memorial Hospital West was designated a Comprehensive Stroke Center by DNV Healthcare, an independent certification and quality assurance provider.

Memorial Hospital Miramar was also certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. Memorial now has two Comprehensive and two Primary Stroke Centers, ensuring people throughout the community have quick and easy access to expert care when every minute counts.

Neuro-Interventional Team to Teach Surgeons Worldwide

The Society of Vascular and Interventional Neurology has chosen Memorial experts to perform global education of neuro-interventional treatments. Memorial will soon live-stream cases from the neuro-interventional suite to surgeons in developing countries, sharing the team’s expertise on a worldwide level.

“We are honored to participate in the society’s tele-observership initiative to teach surgeons on interventional management of stroke patients using innovative virtual proctoring technologies,” says Brijesh Mehta, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke and Neuro-Interventional Surgery programs.


Seyed Ghasemian, MD, performing a transplant surgery.


Kidney Transplant Program Triples Number of Lives Saved

Memorial Transplant Institute’s Kidney Transplant Program more than tripled the number of lives saved in 2022 and was one of the best programs in the country, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

The program ranked sixth out of more than 250 programs across the nation and has one of the shortest “time to transplant” rates and best kidney transplant survival rates one year post-surgery. It is also one of the fastest-growing kidney transplant programs in the country’s history.

“It has been another banner year for our transplant teams, who work tirelessly to provide lifesaving procedures for our patients, even those with the most complex cases. It’s an honor to serve our patients and the community, and it never gets old seeing someone’s life renewed when they receive a new organ.” 

Seyed Ghasemian, MD
Chief, Abdominal Transplant Surgery Program

The transplant team performed 124 kidney transplants in 2022 — compared to 37 in 2021 — becoming one of the highest-volume programs in Florida as it celebrated its fifth anniversary. The program is also one of only eight programs in the U.S. — and the only one in South Florida — to achieve a 5/5 rating from the registry for access to kidney transplants and kidney graft survival.

The experienced Memorial team performs innovative, complex kidney transplants, accepting recipients who others consider high risk and with the belief that every organ is a potential chance at life. These complex procedures include kidney transplants across immunological and physiological barriers, blood group mismatch and transplanting kidneys from Hepatitis C-infected donors to candidates without the disease.

The team also continues to expand its living donor kidney transplantation program. Memorial is one of about 100 programs in the country and only the second in the area to participate in the National Kidney Registry, which facilitates paired kidney exchange and living donor transplants.

To help with the growing demand, the program also welcomed two new surgeons: Linda Chen, MD, Surgical Director of the Living Donor & Pediatric Abdominal Transplant Program, and Joseph Africa, MD, Surgical Director of the Adult Kidney Program.

Pancreas Transplants Now Offered at Memorial

Memorial received approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing in April 2023 to launch a pancreas transplant program — complementing existing pediatric and adult kidney and heart transplant services. Memorial is the only network-approved pancreas program in Broward County. Patients experiencing kidney failure due to insulin-dependent diabetes may qualify for a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant, providing a cure for both diabetes and kidney failure, and freeing them from dialysis, blood sugar monitoring and insulin.

Patient Story

Couple Shares Wedding Vows and Then the Gift of Life

Antwon had just married his wife, Jequita, when he began feeling sick. His primary care doctor told him he had stage five renal kidney disease, which is the eighth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and can affect people at any age.

Life came to a halt for the couple. Antwon immediately started dialysis and learned that the longer you require the treatment, the higher your mortality rate. His new wife offered to be a living donor — and the pair were a match!

“We have a personalized approach, and that is something we are very proud to offer here,” says Joseph Africa, MD, Surgical Director of the Adult Kidney Program. “The donors are angels and heroes, and we are just here to make it happen.”

The transplant was a success. “Yes, I saved his life, but Memorial gave us our lives back,” Jequita says.

Patient Story

Within Weeks, Woman Gets a New Lease on Life

One afternoon, Marilyn began feeling ill and noticed a metallic smell. When she began throwing up, she was rushed to Memorial Regional Hospital.

“A nurse says your iron is low, and your kidneys are no longer working. We have to do dialysis, stat,” Marilyn says.

Doctors discovered Marilyn had kidney disease due to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which causes scarring in parts of the kidney. For six years, she required dialysis. When she went to Memorial Transplant Institute seeking a kidney transplant, she was quickly put on the wait list and shocked when, a few short weeks later, she got the call that an organ was available.

The transplant was a success, and doctors expect the kidney to work for decades to come.

“All the doctors who’ve been taking care of me, they treat me like a family member,” Marilyn says. “I’m grateful to have the whole staff, the whole team. They give you a second chance.”

Patient Story

Son’s Kidney Donation to Mom Was Memorial’s 100th

Magdelena was born with polycystic kidneys and underwent multiple surgeries to try to save them. Ultimately, she ended up on dialysis in 2009. In 2010, her social worker tried but could not get Magdalena on the kidney transplant list.

She spent 12 years on dialysis, which she described as “like a prison sentence.” She was losing hope when her son, Justin, decided to be tested as a donor. He was a perfect match!

“I got tired of seeing her suffer,” he says.

Everything changed for Magdelena in 2022 when Memorial took on her case.

“I’m so grateful to the Memorial team for what they’ve done for me. I can walk a lot further, I can walk with my dog,” Magdelena says. “It’s amazing what I can do.”

“We are deeply honored to serve this community and continue to strive to be No. 1 in access and service. We are also proud to provide lifesaving transplants for those who are turned down by others, while maintaining our high standards of care. Our program has become what others aspire to be.”

Chief, Abdominal Transplant Medicine, and Medical Director, Adult Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Programs


Ira, who had spine surgery, and his wife, Lynn.

Memorial Rehabilitation Institute

Collaboration Improves Access for Spine Patients

Memorial Rehabilitation Institute together with Memorial Neuroscience Institute Spine Center provides continuous, convenient care to patients through collaborative clinics at Memorial Regional Hospital South and Memorial Hospital West.

The clinics allow patients with spine injuries and concerns to see all necessary providers together, including neurosurgeons, interventional pain specialists, physiatrists and physical therapists.

“We continue to hire new physicians and nurse practitioners to provide high-quality patient care, enhance access and improve the institute’s overall profile,” says James Salerno, MD, Medical Director of Memorial Rehabilitation

“We are taking a multifaceted effort combining research, clinical expertise and patient outcomes to provide the very best for the community.”

James Salerno, MD
Medical Director, Memorial Rehabilitation Institute

Bringing Technology to the Bedside

Inpatient rehabilitation rooms are now enabled with Alexa using the AIVA platform for patient privacy. With this technology, patients can ask frequently asked questions, call support departments and request a visit from Mesa, our therapy dog.

The device can also provide entertainment for patients and their families by playing music and games, and the rehabilitation team can teach families how to use Alexa at home for setting reminders to take their medication.

Physical Therapy at Home

Memorial Rehabilitation Institute has made physical therapy and recovery more convenient for patients by providing care at home. Memorial Physical Therapy at Home, powered by Luna®, is offered seven days a week and increases community access to physical therapy. Each patient is paired with a licensed therapist specializing in their condition who creates a personalized care plan and brings all the necessary equipment to their home.

Memorial has been reaccredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, which requires the program to commit to quality improvement, prioritize personalized care for patients and monitor outcomes.

Outpatient rehabilitation for Memorial Regional Hospital South and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital also received CARF accreditation for outpatient medical rehabilitation.

The inpatient rehabilitation program at Memorial Regional Hospital South received specialty accreditation for stroke, oncology and brain injury.

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital inpatient rehabilitation program was reaccredited as a pediatric specialty rehabilitation program.


More than 400 people attended the Annual Research Week held at the conference center at Memorial Regional Hospital, where more than 150 academic works and posters were presented by members of the Memorial Physician Group, plus faculty, fellows, residents, medical students and nursing, pharmacy and rehabilitation departments. Medical projects were judged with awards distributed in various categories.

Transforming the Future of Medicine

The Office of Human Research at Memorial continues to grow and expand, adding more clinical trials for patients, offering studies in more subspecialties for more complex cases, as well as supporting groundbreaking research from faculty, residents and fellows.

In fiscal 2023, 514 patients were enrolled onto clinical studies at Memorial, with more than 150 ongoing studies. At Memorial Cancer Institute alone, 46 adults were enrolled onto 23 Phase I trials. (Phase 1 is the first time an investigational drug is tested in humans.) In Pediatric Oncology, another 74 cancer patients were enrolled onto studies.

“The vision of the Office of Human Research is to offer a research study to every patient that walks through our doors, and we are well on our way to achieving this goal. Our program continues to grow and mature, and we continue to expand the number of new treatment options offered at Memorial. Thanks to these ongoing efforts, our neighbors do not have to travel outside the community to get the cutting-edge therapy they require. It's all right here at Memorial.

Candice Sareli, MD
Vice President and Chief Medical Research Officer

The team’s goal is to offer a trial to every patient and often will open a trial for one patient so he or she can receive the treatment and care needed, close to home.

AI Aids in Research

Memorial is also using artificial intelligence to help further its research efforts. This past year, researchers used the technology to comb through thousands of data points of more than 5,000 patients with COVID-19 to find common traits and predictors that lead to mortality.

The resulting paper, “Using machine learning to identify patient characteristics to predict mortality of inpatients with COVID-19 in South Florida,” was published in Frontiers in Digital Health and was co-authored by Drs. Paula Eckardt and Candice Sareli, in collaboration with faculty from Florida Atlantic University.

The Office of Human Research is also using the technology to find patients who qualify for studies, especially those that are hard to fill, by creating algorithms that can search through the system’s electronic medical records for matches.

MCI Research Published in Prestigious Journal

Adriana Milillo-Naraine, MD, a breast oncologist at Memorial Cancer Institute, participated as a principal investigator for a research trial that was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. The study showed an impressive survival improvement, doubling progression-free survival with trastuzumab deruxtecan in HER2-low advanced breast cancer.

Research Contributes to Recognition of Centers throughout Memorial

The Office of Human Research works with team members throughout the healthcare system on high-caliber research and scholarly activity, which is required for recognition and as part of accreditation for institutes and programs. This includes:

  • Memorial Neuroscience Institute now has two Comprehensive Stroke Centers and two Primary Stroke Centers, where research is being done on different drugs and devices to treat ischemic disease and clot-like strokes, as well as hemorrhagic disease. Other areas of research include migraine and multiple sclerosis
  • Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute has a comprehensive research portfolio spanning cardiac transplant, interventional cardiology, heart failure and electrophysiology. Cardiology fellows now contribute to ongoing research as well
  • The Cystic Fibrosis and Pulmonary Center at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is a nationally accredited, standalone center with ongoing clinical trials and studies. Memorial is also a lead site for a South Florida collaborative group advancing cystic fibrosis research and treatments for the genetic disease
  • Adult and Pediatric Trauma and Pediatric Surgery, which are all Level 1 centers enabling them to perform tertiary level care including organ transplantation

Patients enrolled onto clinical trials at Memorial:


Memorial Graduate Education White Coat Ceremony

Memorial Graduate Medical Education 10th Largest in State

Memorial Graduate Medical Education now has 254 accredited trainees working in 15 different programs throughout the health system, making Memorial’s the 10th largest program in Florida.

The education program, which has 273 total accredited trainee positions, was launched in 2018 to provide training in specialty areas of medicine and fill healthcare shortages in South Florida and the nation. Each year, about 75 residents complete their Memorial training and go on to fellowship training or join the workforce.

“We are in a growth period, as all of our programs now have full classes on board, and we continue to receive thousands of applications each year, making it a competitive landscape,” says Saima Chaudhry, MD, Chief Academic Officer. “Many of our residents and fellows have chosen to stay here in South Florida and at Memorial, while others have gone on to be ambassadors who represent our health system around the country.”

Memorial currently has 34 fellowships and 239 residency positions. It also just became accredited for an allergy and immunology fellowship, which welcomed its first fellow in the summer of 2023. Residents and fellows also complete research during their training, with many showcasing their work and projects through posters and publications.

Cardiovascular Fellowship

The Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship that launched in 2021 now has 15 total general cardiology fellows across all three years of the fellowship.

Fellows are now providing care and learning while rotating in inpatient cardiology consultation services and outpatient continuity clinics at both Memorial Regional and Memorial West campuses. Fellows are also showcasing their research and unusual case presentations at state and national cardiology meetings.

“We have built an academic community-based cardiology fellowship that rivals any large university cardiology program, with extensive training and exposure to all aspects of modern cardiovascular medicine. We are training tomorrow’s leaders in cardiology and raising the level of cardiology care that our community deserves,” says Jonathan Roberts, MD, FACC, FSCAI, program director of the fellowship and medical director of Clinical Research and Education in Interventional Cardiology.

Also, through the generosity of the Memorial Foundation, Memorial has acquired a state-of-the-art trans-thoracic and trans-esophageal echocardiography simulator, which allows fellows to train with echo-simulation and more rapidly acquire proficiency and expertise in both.

RN Fellowship Provides Ongoing Opportunity

The Nurse Fellowship now offers 22 adult and pediatric specialty tracks, providing nurses the opportunity to learn new specialty practices and continue professional development, as well as maintaining an ongoing pipeline of specialty nurses within the healthcare system.

More than 300 registered nurses to date have participated in the fellowship, which recently added specialty tracks in Clinical Nurse Educator, RN Case Manager, RN Infection Preventionist, Dialysis, Endoscopy and High-Risk OB. The Refresh to Acute Care track was created to provide a transition to acute care practice, featuring a customized, hands-on fellowship boot camp at Memorial’s Simulation Center.

Residency Program Supports New Nurses

The Nurse Residency Program at Memorial enrolled more than 530 new nurse graduates during fiscal 2023 and more than 1,900 since the program began in August 2018.

As the program has grown, a team of professional development coordinators has been created to support the professional growth and development of residents through a highly structured, evidence-based curriculum strategically designed to act as a bridge between academia and professional nursing practice.

The program kicks off with a two-day residency boot camp at Memorial’s Simulation Center, which provides a place to cover basic nursing skills they may have not had the opportunity to practice in their academic program. Residents also attend monthly seminars.

Out of the 12 graduating cohorts, Memorial has an overall first-year nurse retention rate of 93%, significantly higher than the national average of 74%.

Memorial Simulation Center Marks 1st Anniversary

The Memorial Simulation Center, generously funded by the Memorial Foundation, celebrated its first anniversary in April 2023. Since opening, the team of simulation educators and emeritus RNs have worked with more than 2,500 RNs and other interprofessional team members using advanced patient simulators.

Activities now include specialized boot camps for nurse residents and fellows, Graduate Medical Education training/simulations for resident doctors, specialty perinatal and emergency nursing courses, specialty skills review sessions, mock code sessions and American Heart HeartCode BLS/ACLS renewal sessions.

Graduate Pharmacy Education Program Expands

The Graduate Pharmacy Education Program, which has been training pharmacists since 2011, continues to grow to align with system needs and priorities.

The program, which admitted about 27 graduate students last year, has added specialty training in ambulatory services for cardiology and infectious diseases to its other programs focusing on oncology, emergency medicine, critical care and internal medicine.

Pharmacy residents and preceptors also contributed to scientific evidence and had academic and research work published and/or presented on national and international platforms.


Margarita, Clinical Pharmacist

$20M Saved in Community Medication Costs

Memorial’s pharmacy enterprise has saved more than $20 million for the community through its Medication Access Program, by securing free medications and copay assistance for patients.

Pharmacy teams continue to integrate services across the continuum of care to ensure patients have access to and are compliant with their medications without being overwhelmed by access barriers. The pharmacy access team will also be incorporating the use of AI technology to help identify the latest pharmaceutical aid programs, when they're open for enrollment and to help match patients to the program they will benefit from the most.

“When medications are managed appropriately and pharmaceutical care is coordinated, we can control costs, improve outcomes, eliminate readmissions and even prevent many admissions in the first place,” says Dorinda Segovia, PharmD, MBA, Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer. “It’s critical to manage medications across the continuum to achieve quality, safety and the operational efficiencies required for success in the world of accountable and value-based care.”

Leighton Lugg, population health pharmacist, consults with a patient

Pharmacist’s Counsel Makes a Difference

When Barbara’s blood sugar was out of control, her primary care physician encouraged her to work with a Memorial population health pharmacist. Many pharmacists at Memorial are embedded in primary care clinics or offer telehealth consultations to help patients manage and remain compliant with medications.

“The pharmacist took my case with so much compassion and dedication. I’ve been working with him on my meds and my diet. Since then, I feel so much better. I’ve even lost six pounds,” Barbara says. “For the first time, I can’t wait to see what my [blood sugar test] will be.”

New Pharmacy Technician Apprentice Program

Memorial launched its Pharmacy Technician Apprenticeship to provide entry-level training for those interested in a healthcare career, as well as combat national pharmacy technician shortages.

The program, which must be completed within six months, offers hands-on training for people with no prior pharmacy education, training or experience. So far, more than 24 apprentices have graduated, been licensed by the state board through Memorial and started careers in pharmacy, nursing and other areas of medicine.

Coordinating Care for Improved Accuracy

Memorial launched pharmacist-led care coordination to support its integrative dispensing models and physicians with complex prior authorizations and medication access issues.

Memorial’s five community pharmacies and its specialty pharmacy — which saw immense growth in fiscal 2023 and dispenses complex medications requiring close monitoring and care coordination — also transitioned to the EPIC electronic health records system. Now, providers throughout the system can access patient medication transaction histories, improving accuracy, convenience and care.

Patients can also access their pharmacy records and request refills through the MyChart patient portal. Memorial pharmacies also provide immunizations, telehealth consultations, durable medical equipment, nutritionals and medication delivery.

Memorial Behavioral Health

Grant Funds Community Outreach

Memorial now offers care coordination services for pediatric and adult patients receiving behavioral health and other services throughout the system. The program started in October 2022 thanks to help from a $4 million grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“The Certified Community Behavioral Health Care team has allowed us to take our services outside the clinic walls and help patients connect the dots between the community, their medical needs and behavioral health concerns,” says Claudia P. Vicencio, PhD, LCSW, LMFT, Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health Services. “Memorial is improving access to care, as well as addressing social determinants of health risks among patients across the system.”

Tammy Tucker, PSYD, psychologist; Andrew Migliaccio, MD, psychiatry; and Claudia Vicencio

The team of eight assists patients in getting the right treatment at the right time – whether it's setting up specialist appointments, getting enrolled in primary care or setting them up with transportation — and follows up to assist with any challenges or barriers.

The grant is also supporting several other initiatives to improve the integration of behavioral health services throughout the system. It’s covering extensive training for staff working at Memorial’s Community Youth Services, inpatient behavioral health, outpatient behavioral health, psychiatry residents and pediatric providers in dialectical behavior therapy and evidence-based practices for working with patients who are at risk for suicide.

In addition to the federal grant funding, Memorial's Outpatient Behavioral Health Services receive funding from the Broward Behavioral Health Coalition, the Broward County Health and Human Services Department, and the state of Florida.

Expanded Space and Services

Memorial also opened its expanded Behavioral Health Center in Davie, providing more centralized and accessible care in South Broward County. Since its opening in January 2023, Memorial has seen a 7 percent increase in patient volume and added an additional psychiatrist and more counselors to meet the growing need.

The new location — which expanded outpatient behavioral health space by 40 percent and can accommodate an additional 10,000 visits a year — also has much-needed space for employees to meet and collaborate. And it provides more space for new and innovative programs, including Youth to Adult Transition and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatment for depression, which will soon be offered thanks in part to support from Memorial Foundation.

“I am proud of our commitment and willingness to invest capital resources in Behavioral Health Services, not because it generates revenue to the bottom line but because it is the right thing to do for our community,” says Tammy Tucker, PsyD, vice president of Behavioral Health.

Taking Care of Our Own

Memorial has taken extraordinary steps to provide mental health services and support for its team members, too.

In addition to unique and flexible benefits, Memorial has launched programs to bridge the gap between colleague support and care. These include:

  • Stress recognition training – Memorial is training leaders and front-line workers to recognize some of the symptoms that manifest when colleagues are in distress. The program, Stress First Aid for Healthcare Workers, helps address short-lived acute stress from difficult cases or traumatic events, long-term burnout and other stressors
  • Code Lavender – Memorial Regional Hospital is piloting this “code blue” for staff to address incident-driven episodes. Run by volunteers trained in Stress First Aid, the program uses manual therapies, energy-based tools, expressive arts and mind-body tools to provide on-the-spot support
  • Schwartz rounds – These rounds at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital invite all healthcare workers to share their experiences, express their feelings and offer one another support in a judgment-free zone
  • Emotional and spiritual support – Whether dealing with a stressful incident or everyday challenges, employees have access to various activities including Employee Health Corners, Healing Touch Days, Inspiration Stations and more, coordinated and planned by our Spiritual Councils. Memorial also offers special webinars on topics related to creating life balance


Major Upgrades Under Way for Flagship Hospital

Memorial Healthcare System is celebrating Memorial Regional Hospital’s 70 years of service to the community with an $88 million investment in infrastructure improvements. Construction has already begun on Memorial’s flagship hospital. The project adds a floor for the Memorial Family Birthplace and expands the Level I Trauma Center and Emergency Room.

The new Family Birthplace floor will have all-private rooms, a family and partner lounge, and a simulation lab for specialized training. The expanded Trauma Center and ER will provide a more functional triage workflow, plus new trauma bays, technology and more.

Through the years, Memorial Regional Hospital has grown to be one of the largest hospitals in the state, adding space and services to meet the growing needs of the South Florida community. The Trauma Center is the second busiest in the state, and The Family Birthplace welcomes more babies than any other facility in Broward County.

Investing in Hollywood’s Future

Memorial purchased two parcels of land in Hollywood in April 2023 as part of its strategic plan to expand and provide accessible, expert care to everyone in the community. A workgroup of health system and community members is being assembled to explore possible uses for the land, located at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and State Road 7. The property is part of the ongoing revitalization of the 441 corridor — a gateway to Hollywood from the west.