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2009 Frist Humanitarian Award Nominees Honored at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center

April, 2010 – Aventura Hospital and Medical Center recently nominated three outstanding individuals for the 2009 HCA Frist Humanitarian Awards.  Established in 1971, the awards honor outstanding individuals for their humanitarian and volunteer activities. The Frist Humanitarian Awards are given annually in recognition of the caring spirit and philanthropic work of the late Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr., a founder of HCA.  Employees and volunteers who demonstrate commitment and dedication to providing care and humanitarianism are selected from around the country and nominees are also recognized at the local level.

Aventura Hospital and Medical Center is proud to honor Sondra Wax of our Volunteer Services Program, Cheryl Smith, RN, Charge Nurse of the Step-Down Unit and Interim Clinical Manager of the South Tower, and Dr. Desiree Rosenthal, Physician Advisor as our nominees for the 2009 HCA Frist Humanitarian Awards.

“We are proud to have Sondra, Cheryl, and Dr. Rosenthal as members of our Aventura family,” said Heather Rohan, CEO of Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, “They have spent a lifetime of giving back to the community, and I am pleased to nominate this deserving group for the Frist Humanitarian Award.”

Sondra Wax has been a valuable member of Aventura Hospital’s Volunteer Services program for eleven years and has contributed over two thousand, nine hundred hours of service in several areas of the hospital. She and her husband Herman, who also volunteers at the Hospital, have lived in South Florida for fifteen years and have been active in many community endeavors.

Sondra’s charitable work began in Rockland County, New York, where she volunteered as a Rape Crisis counselor for the Crisis Center, taking calls and many times being called upon to escort victims to the hospital to provide support and make certain they would not be alone.  She also had the important role of assuring that the rape kit was handled correctly and that evidence was properly secured.

For twenty years, Sondra volunteered for the Helen Hayes Hospital in New York.  In addition to caring for patients, she organized an Annual Run to raise funds for the hospital and worked to provide monthly visitation events for Jewish War Veterans.  While living in New York, Sondra also participated in the American Cancer Society’s very first “Race for the Cure” for Breast Cancer.

Her eleven years at Aventura Hospital include five years in the Mother and Baby unit, feeding babies, comforting mothers, transporting mothers and babies and preparing necessary discharge packets.   Sondra spent three years volunteering in Medical Records, the Pain Center and for Risk Management simultaneously. At present she assists the Director of Infection Control with data collection for all performance indicators.  Her volunteer works also include serving in various leadership positions both on her Condo Board and at her synagogue.  She also ushers several times each month at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and Parker Playhouse.

Cheryl Smith has been a valuable member of Aventura Hospital’s Nursing Team for the past four years.  As the Charge Nurse of the Step-Down Unit and Interim Clinical Manager of the South Tower she provides leadership and hands-on care as well as concern and empathy for our patients and families.

Her career at Aventura Hospital began when she received an HCA Scholarship.  She began in the Telemetry Unit, and her talents were quickly noticed by Senior Management, resulting in her rapid advancement to the Step-Down unit where she received her Stroke and Chemotherapy Certifications.  She was then promoted to a Charge Nurse position and is also serving in the capacity of South Tower interim Clinical Manager.

Understanding that the Healthcare profession is one that requires its employees to be lifelong learners, Cheryl is currently in pursuit of the MSN degree. However, her ultimate goal is to become an ARNP with specialization in cardiac Medicine. Cheryl is a member of the Safety, Stroke, Medication Management, Clinical Achievement Program, Nursing Peer Review, and Staffing committees. She also serves as the Co-Chair for the Falls Committee, Unit Based HCAHPS and Employee Advisory Group.

Cheryl’s commitment and caring for her patients, their families and the hospital organization as a whole has been recognized numerous times by her colleagues and supervisors.  She has been named Nurse of the Month on both the Telemetry and Step-Down units.  Her service to the profession was also recognized by the Bioethics Committee earning her a Certificate of Appreciation for Exceptional Service beyond the call of duty.  Cheryl is also featured in the “Sit and Speak” video which is an integral part of the new employee orientation program for all HCA facilities.

Cheryl has a long history of community involvement and volunteering.  Her Grandmother was an Evangelist in her local church and she began singing with a group of young girls called the “Joy Bells”.  She later became a member of the Young Ladies Auxiliary, entertaining seniors in nursing homes and hospitals in the area.  In her teen years she continued with volunteer leadership roles as the President of the African American Assembly in her High School.  She was also a member of the Burdines Teen Board that contributed to Santa’s Christmas helpers, bringing good will to children of the community. 

As a Mother she speaks proudly of her experience of being a parent of a child with Autism. She shares her personal testimonials that have been a source of inspiration and hope for families with autistic style learners.  She is a parent speaker and serves on the Exceptional Student Education Advisory Committee of the Broward County Public Schools.

She volunteers her time for the young ladies enrichment group known as “Precision”, which works to educate young women on the career choices, proper etiquette and how to make a difference with their lives.

Dr. Desiree’ Rosenthal has served as a member of our Medical Staff since 1984.  She began her career with HCA at Miami Heart Institute and is currently our Physician Advisor, an integral part of our Utilization Management Team.

“Dr. Desi” as she is known to everyone was born in Cape Town, South Africa and attended the University of Cape Town.  As a student she participated in the Jewish Youth Movement, visiting nursing homes and Jewish homes for the aged.

During Medical School she volunteered her services to go out into the Townships to serve indigent patients. They had a Clinic where she worked nights and after classes providing free medical care, blood tests and medications to those unable to receive care in the city.  Through the University, she participated in a Study for Child Development in Soweto Township, South Africa. Three days a week a team went into the township to examine children 6-11 years of age.  Hundreds of children were screened and any child with early signs of scoliosis was taken into the City of Johannesburg for further testing.  These children received special care and medications to prevent the disease from developing.

Dr. Desi began her United States medical affiliation at Jackson Memorial Hospital.  After a short stint in anesthesia, she quickly moved on to her true passion, which is Primary Care.  She developed a thriving private practice in Hallandale Beach, Florida working more than full time for many years.

Giving back comes naturally to Desi.  Since 1996 she has worked with a small Foundation called “Hope for Vision”, a fundraising and educational effort to care for children with retinal degenerative diseases.  “Living Promises” a grassroots effort that raises money for the needs of patients and families afflicted and affected by Leukemia and Lymphoma has also received her support for the last nine years.  She contributes on an ongoing basis to Jewish Hunger, Boys Town, Diabetes Research, Pet Rescue, Seeing Dogs and Cancer.

Desi is an avid runner; she ran her first marathon in Miami when she was 54 and finished the New York Marathon in 2008.  Not to mention, she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 1994.  This energetic physician says if you want to talk about what she really does it is her one on one with her patients and friends.   Desi has a drawer full of letters and notes from families and patients thanking her for her caring and support during their stay.

In gratitude for all that they have done and continue to do on behalf of our community, Aventura Hospital and Medical Center proudly congratulates Sondra Wax, Cheryl Smith, RN, and Dr. Desiree Rosenthal on this special honor.  In the words of Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr., “There is so much good to do in the world and so many different ways to do it.”

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