We recognize 20 Gator Nurses dedicated to caring across the whole spectrum of nursing. Certainly these are not the only ones as we have more than 10,000 accomplished alumni across the globe but they are among our Gator Nurse Greats.
By Anna Suggs Hoffman
Every nurse is drawn to the career of nursing because of the impact they have on patients and health care. For many, they are attracted by the chance to make a difference in someone’s life every day. For College of Nursing alumni Della Tuten (BSN 2005, MSN 2006) and Lisa Magary (BSN 2005, MSN 2006, DNP 2010), nursing was a higher calling and the opportunity to do something different in their community.
Classmates in the second accelerated BSN class at UF, Tuten and Magary pursued traditional nursing careers after graduating. They both knew there was more to what they wanted to accomplish, and last year they gave voice to their dreams. In May 2015, they opened Celebrate Primary Care and what they describe as “Gainesville’s Premier Concierge Medical Practice.”
“We chose to step away from the tradition of factory assembly line health care to offer more personalized care for people who want options,” Tuten said.
Celebrate Primary Care offers affordable direct primary care through a monthly membership fee based on the patient’s age. There are no long-term commitments, co-pays, or insurance billing and patients have full access to the nurse practitioners via text, email, phone or in-person at any time.
“We just want people’s lives to be easy and simplified,” Magary said. “Our patients feel comforted knowing that they have someone who cares and wants to spend the time becoming familiar with the whole person, and we feel good helping them manage every aspect of their health.”
The practice is thriving with about 400 patients and more adding every day. Tuten and Magary are already discussing expansion and the possibility of franchising. They credit the UF College of Nursing for their educational foundation and their success as nurses, keeping in touch with many of their nursing professors and staying connected to the College by serving as preceptors for current students.
Although the business partners have personalities that are like night and day, they say that difference is what keeps them balanced and their practice successful.
“I am more reserved and cautious, and Lisa is more of a risk-taker and open,”Tuten said. “But our combinations work well together, and although we may have a different approach to things, our goals are always the same. Our focus is always on what’s best for our patients.”
Shanna Johnson has been a patient at Celebrate Primary Care since January. A patient at a general practitioner for years, she said she had started to lose faith in her doctor and wanted someone who would really listen to her.
Like most of Magary and Tuten’s patients, Johnson was recommended to Celebrate Primary Care by word of mouth.
“I called and Lisa made an appointment with me the very next day,” Johnson said. “We sat and talked for an hour about what was going on with me. I never felt rushed. We clicked immediately.”
Johnson said what she really loves about Celebrate Primary Care is the access and how quick everything is, thanks to the practice having an on-site lab and pharmacy.
“It’s such a common-sense idea!” Johnson said. “It blows my mind that nobody else in Gainesville is doing direct primary care.”
Gator Nurse Greats- CARE
Irene Alexaitis (MSN 1997) DNP, RN, NEA-BC, is the Vice President of Nursing and Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer of UF Health Shands. Alexaitis has more than 30 years of nursing experience, with 28 years in administrative/ management positions. She joined UF Health Shands Hospital in 1989 as a nurse manager and has held various positions, including director of nursing from 2003 to 2008.
Prior to joining UF Health Shands Hospital, she held a variety of staff and management positions at Tampa General Hospital from 1980 to 1989. As Vice President, Alexaitis for coordinating and evaluating UF Health Shands Hospital’s nursing services and participating in coordination of activities throughout the UF Health Shands family of hospitals in Gainesville. She has responsibility for nursing policy development and standards, planning, employee relations, public relations and marketing, professional practice and performance management.
Betty Bell (MSN 1965) has devoted her life to the care of families with young children at high risk for developmental delays. She developed the first interdisciplinary, early intervention programs in the State of Alabama to care for these families, educating both the community and health professionals about the children’s needs and abilities. Betty’s clear vision, expertise in child and family development, and human relationship skills shaped every aspect of The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs. The meticulously-crafted programs include community resources (Creative Dance Foundation, Hand-in-Paw animal-assisted therapy), volunteers and local university students. With Betty’s leadership, expert teaching, and compassionate advocacy, The Bell Center has influenced the community of Birmingham and the State of Alabama, and has been recognized nationally.
“Betty has touched so many children’s lives and given so many families help and hope when they were faced with a child with special needs.”
Joseph Bertulfo, DNP, MPH, MSN, NP-C, (BSN 1993) is the Deputy Director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). DHDSP’s mission is to provide public health leadership to improve cardiovascular health for all, reduce the burden, and eliminate disparities associated with heart disease and stroke through multiple cardiovascular disease prevention programs, such as the national Million Hearts® initiative. Prior to his current role, he served as the Deputy Director for the Division of Applied Sciences, home to CDC’s premier scientific and leadership fellowship training programs including the Epidemic Intelligence Service. He has been recognized for his contributions to nursing and public health on multiple occasions in the areas of healthcare quality improvement, public health emergency preparedness, and workforce development. He is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service; the Public Health Service Commissioned Officers Foundation Carruth Wagner Nursing Leadership Award; the U.S. Public Health Service Chief Nurse Officer Award; the University of Florida College of Nursing Dorothy M. Smith Nursing Leadership Award; and a two-time CDC Honor Award nominee. Dr. Bertulfo is an active member of the University of Florida College of Nursing Alumni Council and was named the College of Nursing’s Alumnus of the Year in 2014. He holds advanced degrees in nursing and public health from The University of Alabama (Sigma Theta Tau) and the University of South Florida.
Nancy Cross Hamilton, MN, RN (BSN 1964, MN 1966) has had a long career in nursing including clinical practice in pediatrics and teaching nursing students. As a UF student, Cross Hamilton became one of the founding members of the UF chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honor society. After graduating with her BSN in 1964, Cross Hamilton worked in the pediatric wing at Shands at UF, an experience which contributed to her love and passion for the care of children. Cross Hamilton came back to UF to pursue her master’s degree in pediatric nursing. She worked for many years as a professor teaching nursing care for children at St. Petersburg College from 1970-2000 and also practiced clinically at All Children’s Hospital. Cross Hamilton has also been an active volunteer with All Children’s and the Ronald McDonald House. Cross Hamilton received her Master of Nursing in 1966 as a Pediatric Clinical Specialist at UF’s newly es
tablished program. For 30 years, Cross Hamilton taught the nursing care of children to students at St. Petersburg College, until she retired in 2000.
Laurie Duckworth, PhD, ARNP, holds a joint appointment as a Clinical Associate Professor at the UF College of Nursing and the Director of Clinical Research at UF Health Shands. In this role, she serves as a bridge between faculty members at the college and nurses in the hospital to foster research and assists the nurses at UF Health Shands hospitals with formulating clinical research projects. She previously served as the Director of Advanced Practice Nursing and Nursing Research at Nemours Children’s Clinic in Jacksonville.
Duckworth has contributed to more than 40 peer-reviewed publications, abstracts and presentations and has participated in more than 45 clinical research projects. Her research interests lie in improving health outcomes in children with asthma. Dr. Duckworth is a board-certified advanced registered nurse practitioner. She is a member of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Pamela Dulin, BSN, MSN, received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1971 and her Master of Science in Nursing in 1988, both from UF. She has worked in various nursing roles at Florida Hospital Orlando since 1973. Her experience at Florida Hospital Orlando includes assistant nurse manager, critical care clinical educator, pulmonary critical care nurse specialist and clinical nurse liaison. She has served as an adjunct faculty member for the UF College of Nursing at Florida Hospital since 2009, overseeing the nursing preceptorship program. In this role, Dulin rounds on the nursing students once a week and performs a final evaluation at the end of the clinical transition. The amount of students she oversees who are completing their transition at Florida Hospital ranges from four to seven each year. She has extensive experience as a clinical instructor at numerous Central Florida nursing programs, including the University of Central Florida, Seminole State College and Valencia Community College. Prior to her experience at Florida Hospital, Dulin was a staff nurse and relief charge nurse at Shands in Gainesville from 1972-73.
Melinda Fawbush, ARNP, (BSN 1975, MSN 1983, DNP 2015) is a genetics specialist at Hill Breast Center at Baptist Health in Jacksonville. She’s an advanced registered nurse practitioner with special training in genetics tests and genetics counseling. Fawbush is also the coordinator of the cancer risk assessment program.
Barbara Emmel Geiger, BSN, RN, MBA HCM, (BSN 1974) has worked at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System since 2001, and currently serves as Chief Nurse, Ambulatory Care. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1974 from UF and a master’s degree in business administration in health care management in 2003 from the University of Phoenix. During her 40-year career in the nursing profession, Ms. Geiger has lived in six states experiencing many different nursing positions that led her to expand her nursing competence. Before moving back to her hometown of Gainesville, she worked in Atlanta for Wellstar Health Care System as a nurse educator and for Radiation Oncology Services as a performance improvement specialist. Ms. Geiger has volunteered in many civic and professional organizations, has been an active member of the UF College of Nursing Alumni Council, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the UF Alumni Association.
Valerie Ginn (BSN 2005, MSN 2006) is a nurse working with a physician in private practice in medical-legal case evaluations, a position she has held for the past 29 years. She is involved in both civil and criminal work throughout the United States. In the last several years, she has been significantly involved with child abuse cases where they are hired by defense attorneys. In the past, Ginn has worked at Palms of Pasadena Hospital, St. Anthony’s Hospital and Shands. She has been a community volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, the St. Petersburg Public Library and the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. She has also knitted two shawls for the College of Nursing’s Comfort Shawl program.
Linda Jenkins’, MSN, ARNP, (BSN 1962) professional background includes being on the faculty of University of California-San Francisco where she taught 3rd year medical students during their obstetrical rotation. She has also taught child birth preparation and prenatal exercise classes and continuing education classes for registered nurses. In addition to working in hospital, public health and school nursing, she served as a consultant to a local hospital that brought the first alternative birth center.
Her book, ‘Pregnancy, Birth & You’ sold over 26,000 copies and is now out of print, but the Spanish edition was recently presented to the doctors in Nicaragua when she was there as part of the PINCC team. Linda has traveled to numerous foreign countries, filming births, writing, teaching, doing surgical nursing. She has gone as part of a Rotaplast team to Venezuela as well as completed 2 trips with the LN-4 Prosthetic Hand Project to Vietnam and Peru. She has recently returned from the Woodland Rotary club project to Nicaragua, financed in part by a Rotary Foundation grant.
Rita Kobb, MN, APRN-BC,(BSN 1981, MSN 1996) serves as the Director of the Sunshine Training Center and Education Program Specialist for the Office of Telehealth Services of the Veterans Health Administration. Kobb specializes in Care Coordination/Care Management, Home Telehealth Consulting, and Gerontological Nursing and has been involved in more than 65 publications and creative works. She is a national speaker about care coordination and home telehealth in VHA. She is a recognized expert consultant in care coordination and home telehealth and serves as Chair of the American Telemedicine Association’s Home Telehealth Special Interest Group. Ms. Kobb’s leadership in the field of technology and health care has been recognized by the Veteran’s Administration Hospital System for her innovative approaches to improving care.
Beyond her professional career, Kobb’s dedication to Gator Nursing can be seen in her years of tireless service on our College of Nursing Alumni Council Board. She remains passionate on providing ways to assist students with scholarships, and her personal efforts toward the annual Silent Auction has garnered thousands of dollars which go to the Alumni Council Student Book Awards.
Linda Owens, BSN, RN (BSN 1980) is currently a Research Programs/Services Coordinator for the College of Medicine’s Division of Nephrology where she has been since 2012. In her role, she serves as a primary coordinator of research studies which entails a number of aspects including regulatory compliance, research protocol, informed consent, recruitment of subjects, data collection and storage and documentation. Prior to roles with clinical research, she served as a staff nurse with the UF Health Physicians Group Practice and a health administrator at Prison Health Services. She has received numerous customer service nominations and was given the Regional Health Administrator Award through the Prison Health Services in 2000.
Leslie Parker, PhD, ARNP is a Clinical Associate Professor in the UF College of Nursing. She is a neonatal nurse practitioner who has had a joint practice in the UF Health NICU unit since 1990. Parker also has NIH-funded research which involves nutritional support of the premature infant with an emphasis on breastfeeding infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). She is currently funding by the National Institute of Nursing Research to study the risks and benefits of routine gastric residual aspiration and evaluation in very premature infants and the optimal timing of initiation of milk expression following the delivery of a very premature infant. She has been featured in many publications highlighting her research and expertise in neonatal nursing and nutrition of the premature infant.
Durward Rackleff, MSN, RN (BSN 2011) is a nurse consultant in the Office of Patient Safety and Clinical Quality at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (NIH CC) in Bethesda, Maryland. In his position, he manages an overhaul of the organization-wide adverse event reporting process, focusing on feedback loops and data analytics. He also serves as an advisor to the Deputy Director for Clinical Care in areas of patient safety, quality improvement, clinical administration, clinical practice, research evaluation, hospital accreditation, emergency preparedness, management of the environment of care, and the review of clinical research. Prior to this he was a clinical nurse in the Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. He has lobbied several times for legislation for health equity and accountability as well as increased access to palliative care. Rackleff is a member of the National Association of Health care Quality and the DC Society of Health Policy Young Professionals.
Sherri Reynolds, MS, RN (BSN 1975) has dedicated her career to making a difference in the community. For the last 30 years, she has worked in the public school boards of Manatee and Sarasota Counties, first as the Coordinator of Health Education and then as the Supervisor of Pupil Support Services, respectively. Within her current role as an administrator at the School Board of Sarasota County, she established and managed the Grants Department, authoring and managing over 65 grants, and supervised innumerable community prevention programs. Reynolds has received numerous awards over the years, including the Florida Health School District Gold Award back-to-back years and most recently in July 2015: the ABC 7 Who Care Award for Leadership and Community Volunteerism in Sarasota. As she prepares to retire later this year, she plans to continue to commit time to her true passion of community service.
Chad Rhoden, MSN, ARNP (MSN 2014) currently serves as an advanced practice nurse in the UF Health Adult Lung Transplant Team. In this role he manages the teaching of all new lung transplant patients in the hospital setting and the outpatient care clinic twice weekly providing assessment and treatment. He also serves as a UF OPS professor in the clinical education of nurse practitioner (DNP) students and works in Gainesville After Hours Primary Care and Urgent Care Center. Prior to that he served as a charge nurse at UF Health Shands in the Medicine/Telemetry Unit. When he graduated in 2014 with his master’s degree, he won the Lois Knowles Award for Excellence in Geriatric Nursing.
In her nomination of Rhoden, staff nurse and alumna Anne-Marie Bodor stated “Chad is a great leader and patient advocate. He uses evidence-based practice in the experimental field of lung transplant to make decisions about the clinical treatment of his patients. As a new nurse he encourages me to do my best and reach my goals. If I’m half the nurse he is during my career, I will feel like I have accomplished my dreams.”
Peggy Rodebush, RN, MSN (MSN 1985) has been a registered nurse for 35 years. She was a critical care nurse for many years and worked in various leadership roles for AvMed SantaFe. She was awarded an American Lung fellowship and earned her master’s degree as a clinical nurse specialist from the University of Florida. After moving to Tampa with her family in 2005, she became a Healthcare Partner at Ernst & Young and worked with nurses and doctors providing consulting services to hospitals across the United States. She was hired by Ross Perot to build a clinical division for Perot Consulting and later led healthcare clinical consulting practices for IBM and Siemens, focusing on using technology to improve clinical outcomes and care in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. Rodebush has been active at the national level with various healthcare organizations including HIMSS, AONE and Magnet. She retired in 2014 to spend more time with her husband, Denny, three grown children and three grandchildren.
Denise Schentrup, DNP, ARNP, is the Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the College of Nursing. She is responsible for administrative tasks related to the College’s Faculty Practice Association. Schentrup is the Clinical Director of Archer Family Health Care, the College of Nursing’s nurse managed health center. She is also Lead Nurse Practitioner and provides quality, affordable care to individuals and families of Archer, Florida and surrounding rural areas. She supervises the clinical staff and provides oversight to the day to day operations of the practice and the Quality Improvement Program. Schentrup is a member of the implementation team for the electronic health record and provides leadership in the clinical documentation piece within the electronic health record. She is a member of the national consortium of the Alliance of Chicago and participates on a subcommittee on clinical documentation to improve clinical documentation within the electronic health record
Schentrup teaches graduate courses and serves as a preceptor in the clinical setting as well as participating on DNP project committees. She is the PrincipaI Investigator on an Interprofessional Collaborative Practice at Archer Family Health Care funded by HRSA.