Five local individuals and an organization were recently honored by the Memorial and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundations at the 23rd Circle of Friends luncheon at the Signature Grand in Davie.
Dr. Paula Eckardt, Italia Folleco, Dr. Randy Katz, Dr. Holly Neville, and Craig Zinn were named “Spirit of Healing” award winners for professional excellence, community service, and a commitment to Memorial Healthcare System. The contributions of The Taft Foundation were recognized with the “Wasie Philanthropic Leadership” award.
“This year’s award recipients are individuals and a foundation that have made a significant impact in our community,” said Kevin Janser, president of Memorial and Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Foundations. “Through their unwavering commitment, they continuously strive towards bettering the lives of our patients and families.”
Paula Eckardt, MD, of Weston, is currently medical director of Memorial’s Ryan White Clinic, which provides services for people living with HIV/AIDS, and whose multidisciplinary team helps ensure that patients have access to medications, mental health services and case management services in addition to their medical care. With her leadership, Memorial was a real leader managing a hospital system during a pandemic. She has a true passion for caring and treating at-risk patients and then helping patients stay in care, take their medications, manage their conditions and get better. Dr. Eckardt is also clinical assistant professor of medicine at Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, and clinical affiliate associate professor of medicine for the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.
Italia Folleco, of Dania Beach, is a member and chair of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council. Ms. Folleco’s daughter, at age nine, learned that she had osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive childhood bone cancer, and passed away in 2007 from complications of her cancer treatment. Ms Folleco and her family have worked ever since to keep Daniella’s legacy alive. The Follecos teamed up with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation to raise funds to create Daniella’s Atrium, a bright, colorful space where patients and families could get a taste of the outside world. Ms. Folleco educates nursing and medical residents as well as staff across the system on the philosophy of patient and family-centered care (PFCC). She leads many educational sessions to promote understanding of PFCC and provide the participants the opportunity to listen to and reflect on the patient-family ‘lived experience’ in a way they may not have previously. Her inspiration continues to be Daniella.
Randy Katz, DO, FACEP, of Davie, is the district medical director of emergency medicine at Memorial Healthcare System, and believes he’s in a unique position to benefit the patients and families he serves. Dr. Katz spearheaded a proactive 2020 initiative to confront COVID-19 in nursing homes and established an outreach plan offering critical services to nearly 60 unaffiliated facilities throughout south Broward County. The initiative gave Memorial the opportunity to oversee virus containment in facilities that didn’t have the expertise to manage such emergency preparedness strategies. Another example of Dr. Katz commitment is the project he developed for Memorial’s Sickle Cell Day Center, a new, stand-alone facility offering primary care, hematology, and social services to patients battling the genetic blood disorder. With evidence-based approaches, education, and training, Dr. Katz and his team have been able to dramatically improve the quality of care provided for patients. These successful efforts led by Dr. Katz embody Memorial’s commitment to the community and exemplify the very spirit of healing.
Holly Neville, MD, of Hollywood, is a pediatric general surgeon, chief of pediatric surgery at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, and associate chief medical officer for Memorial Healthcare System. Dr. Neville is also the program director of Memorial's General Surgery Residency Program in Graduate Medical Education. Dr. Neville is past president of the Florida Association of Pediatric Surgeons. She is making a tangible difference in children’s lives daily. She serves on the education and wellness committee for the American Pediatric Surgical Association (APSA), and, as a certified coach, co-founded and leads the ASPA Coaching Program. Additionally, she sits on the University of Florida College of Medicine Alumni Board. She is a generous supporter of Memorial and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundations and serves on their boards. With all her responsibilities, Dr. Neville still finds helping children and families the most rewarding part of her work at Memorial. She is also actively involved in the Association of Women Surgeons. In addition to her work as a surgeon, she is also a mom to three kids, two rescue dogs, and a bird.
Craig Zinn, a Broward County resident, is an entrepreneur that has spent four decades in the automotive industry. The Craig Zinn Automotive Group operates in South Florida and is made up of Toyota of Hollywood, Lexus of Pembroke Pines, Lexus of North Miami, Acura of Pembroke Pines, and Subaru of Pembroke Pines. Mr. Zinn believes that being a success is when you can help those around you. His commitment to the community who instilled in him to take care of children, that children are our future, and that children should be entitled to a childhood in which they can have fun and not have to deal with health problems. As a generous supporter of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Mr. Zinn has created an endowment to underwrite costs associated with the Animal Assisted Therapy program at the children’s hospital. Additionally, Subaru of Pembroke Pines and its “Share the Love” campaign provided funding that was part of the capital campaign for the expansion of the pediatric facility.
The Taft Foundation strives to fulfill the legacy of its founder, Don Taft, by making it possible for children with medical challenges, and children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to live full and joyful lives. They have done that at Memorial by gifting a chapel at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and through connections to the Jeff Conine All-Star Golf Tournament that have resulted in more than $1 million being donated to underwrite expenses at the Conine Clubhouse.
The Memorial Foundation and Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Foundation raise funds philanthropically to assist patients, families, and to underwrite the cost of programs, facilities, and equipment within the Memorial Healthcare System.