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Gold Foundation Honors Champions of Humanistic Care at Miller School and UHealth

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation has honored individuals from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and UHealth – the University of Miami Health System as 2021 Champions of Humanistic Care for their compassion and courage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alison Ohringer Exemplifies Community Service Commitment

Alison Ohringer, M.P.H., M.S., Miller School student and class of 2023 president, was chosen as an honoree for her exemplary leadership and community service efforts both in and out of the classroom. Ohringer led the Miami Med COVID Help initiative in support of health care personnel in more than 40 hospitals across South Florida. Her efforts led to PPE donations, cleaning supplies, and on-campus innovations such as prototypes for a more robust type of head protection for health care workers.

“I am still just as speechless today as I was yesterday. Thank you so much for this honor,” Ohringer said. “It has been a privilege to work alongside so many classmates and colleagues who have gone above and beyond to serve our community. Their continued resilience has been inspiring and personally motivating.”

Ohringer’s leadership and work ethic were noted by Hilit F. Mechaber, M.D., associate professor of medicine and senior associate dean for student affairs; Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School; and Latha Chandran, M.D., M.P.H., executive dean and founding chair of the Department of Medical Education at the Miller School.

“We are so proud not only of Alison’s endeavors, but also her own resilience and incredible leadership,” Dr. Mechaber said. “She is a role model to her peers, and we are fortunate to have students like her leading the way. I am thrilled to learn that the Gold Foundation selected her as an honoree.”

Dr. Bhavarth Shukla Leads World-Class COVID-19 Care

Through every phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bhavarth Shukla, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor, and Gold Foundation award recipient, has been at the forefront of the University of Miami Health System’s preparedness, response, and development of new care models. As medical director of infection control, he has ensured that UHealth brings world-class COVID care to individual patients, employees, and physicians — because every one of them has been at risk.

Leaders at UHealth Tower describe Dr. Shukla as “the ultimate in humility,” an incredible partner, knowledgeable, collaborative, always willing to jump in. His grace under fire has helped bring unimaginably stressful situations under control as he works with people throughout the academic medical center to find the most effective ways to care for patients and reimagine processes to survive and prevail in a pandemic.

Dr. Shukla’s leadership extends to the community where he has shown humanistic care in developing a model identifying hot spots where COVID patients were likely to come from. He is equally grateful for the chance to serve his colleagues. Managing the pandemic has taken him away from directly caring for patients, but it has presented countless opportunities to help individual employees with concerns, symptoms, and the intense challenge of dealing with surges in COVID cases. He considers it a privilege to be there for them, a cherished opportunity to give back.

“It’s humbling to realize what effects a small virus can have of the health of so many, but it is reassuring to know what incredible good can be done when a community works together in the face of such a pandemic,” Dr. Shukla said. “I’m incredibly grateful for the tremendous support from the faculty, staff, students, and leadership in helping with our pandemic response and service to the community.”

Dr. Shukla has truly raised the bar in infection control, managing screening, hospitalization, discharge, and post-COVID care of our patients; helping make clinical research happen, both within and outside the hospital; and orchestrating vaccination of staff and patients.

Joe Falise Rises to the Challenge

In the beginning, Joe Falise, M.S.N., knows, the COVID-19 nurses at UHealth Tower were scared to death. They didn’t know enough about the virus to feel safe when caring for patients, and every process they had followed for years had to change.

Falise, who is the third person honored by the Gold Foundation, rose to the challenge, with UHealth nurses inspired by his leadership and innovation — and by his dedication to keeping them safe. Protecting the nurses and their patients had him coming in to work early and going home late, and it paid off. His colleagues’ anxiety and fear significantly diminished as they were able to devote all of their attention to caring for their patients.

Falise, who is nurse manager for the cardiovascular ICU, neuro ICU and COVID ICU, has led his nurses above and beyond their usual duties, helping patients’ families stay informed and connected at a time like no other. A long, distinguished career as a critical care nurse and leader of crisis plans made Falise an invaluable contributor to the new care model UHealth created — running a COVID hospital and a non-COVID hospital in the same facility.

“I accepted this role wholeheartedly because my team needed me,” Falise said. “And I needed them.” His deep experience in critical care, in leading teams, and in developing new systems to confront a crisis have helped the UHealth successfully handle the COVID-19 pandemic — and be ready for any challenge the future brings.

Falise is a true champion of the humanistic care recognized and advanced by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Tags: Alison Ohringer, Arnold P. Gold Foundation, Dr. Bhavarth Shukla, Joe Falise