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Best of Health Care

by Liz Hunter and Peter Proko

A look at the people, places and programs that make South Jersey a leader in the world of medicine. For our annual look at the Best of Health Care, we once again are recognizing the people and places that are making a difference in the area. From decorated hospital leaders to dedicated researchers, we put a spotlight on the folks who are moving the needle forward. We also highlight partnerships that are gaining traction, the innovators who are thinking outside the box, the community outreach programs that are benefitting South Jersey, and the rising stars in the health care field.

Emerging Leaders

Christopher Brandt
In Brandt’s role as vice president of applications for Continuum Health Alliance, more than 1,000 medical professionals and nearly 2 million patients rely on his expertise in revenue cycle management, electronic health records and other health care technology. His decade of experience includes managing many large-scale technology projects with a focus on maximizing return on investment and improving patient outcomes. During his six years at Continuum, Brandt’s tech-savvy efforts have helped physician practices in more than 400 locations increase profitability by up to 30 percent. A member of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the American Health Information Management Association, Brandt also leads the organizations’ Change Control Committee, which targets ways to increase efficiency while minimizing downtime. “Knowing the technology we deploy to our physicians and patients results in better health outcomes and improved quality of care [is rewarding.] Each day we are faced with new challenges, but I know that our organization makes a difference in the lives of our patients,” Brandt says, adding, “I am proud to be part of the journey to truly improve patient care and make a difference.”

Jake Peltzman
Jake Peltzman is at the center of Nemours duPont Pediatrics’ efforts to increase the availability of high-quality medical care for South Jersey children. As an Associate Administrator for Nemours, Peltzman oversees community partnership programs with both Inspira Health System and Cooper University Health System, while also working to grow Nemours’ network of outpatient subspecialty practices.

“The most rewarding part of my work is helping our patients and families,” he says. “Equally as rewarding is keeping up with the constant pace of change in health care and helping the physicians in our local communities overcome obstacles to providing high quality care.” As a new father, the Cherry Hill resident takes pride in being able to help expand specialized care for South Jersey kids, including working on a new specialty care and outpatient surgery center slated for a 2016 opening in Deptford. Peltzman also serves on the gala committee for the March of Dimes in South Jersey, is the board chair for the state chapter of the American Lung Association, and is the chair-elect for the regional chapter of the American Lung Association.

Cheri Cowperthwait
With more than two decades of health care experience, Cowperthwait is both a passionate and progressive leader. The CEO of Lourdes Specialty Hospital of Southern New Jersey believes heavily in the overall patient experience and creates a family atmosphere that starts with her dedicated staff members. It’s an approach that has garnered many national awards for the hospital in recent years and quite the accomplishment for the former algebra teacher who began her medical career in nursing. Cowperthwait lends her time and effort to numerous health care charities, while also serving as a member of several groups including the New Jersey Hospital Association, New Jersey Healthcare Quality Institute, American Hospital Association and the Southern New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

“It is truly an honor and a joy to represent Lourdes Specialty Hospital and the work done by the team on behalf of our patients and their families. As a clinician and a leader, I understand the importance of an organizational culture that is the framework of success for patients, as well as physicians and the amazing staff.”

Dr. Denise Zingrone
It’s really special when a person can admit they love coming to work every day. For Zingrone, an attending cardiologist and associate director of the Women’s Heart Center at Deborah, it’s a passion she tries to impart to her students as the director of medical education and director of the cardiovascular fellowship program. “I love the field of cardiology,” she says. “You see patients when they are at their worst and you help take care of them and get them through it. Then you start to see them get better and get back to doing the activities they love.” She says if there is one thing she could impart to her students it would be to recognize what an honor it is to be able to care for these patients.


Dr. R. Robert Franks
Sports medicine physicians have been at the forefront of concussion research and Franks is no stranger to the topic. Along with concussion specialists at Rothman Institute, Franks has helped develop advanced evaluation and treatment techniques that give objective data to help assess the severity of a concussion by conducting tests like a balance assessment or measuring eye speed. “We are taking a look at a combination of things you need, not just in the field, but in the classroom,” says Franks. “This allows us to create a game plan in rehabilitation therapy that will get the patient back to normal activity quicker and with much less discomfort.” He adds that, across all sports, there is an improvement in identifying concussions that would have previously gone undetected.

Cheryl Rosselli
As the Corporate Director of Employee Health and Nursing Initiatives at Kennedy Health, Rosselli has made her presence felt while motivating Kennedy associates to be proactive in their approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, thanks to the implementation of new programs for health screenings, vaccinations and exercise. Last year, she oversaw Kennedy’s first-ever mandatory flu shot program for employees, physicians and volunteers, and was also responsible for coordinating confidential biometric screenings—a rewards-based wellness program designed to motivate employees to reach their optimal health.

Woodbury Mews Senior Living—Memory & Dementia Care
When a loved one is affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia, one of the most important things to provide is a supportive and secure environment where they can continue to lead an active lifestyle. At Woodbury Mews, their cutting-edge memory care program includes a 10-point system of activities, from the creative and cognitive to the social and sensory. Memory Care Coordinator Terri Bricketto says these daily activities keep residents engaged. “There are little things like stringing Cheerios on wire and feeding birds or gardening that help remind them of things they used to do at home,” she says. From a security standpoint, Woodbury Mews requires a code to exit the building, which only the employees know, preventing anyone from wandering off. But residents are not confined to their rooms; they can walk indoors or enjoy two outdoor courtyards at their leisure.

Newcomers to Watch

Patient First
Patient First, formed in Richmond, Va., in 1981, has expanded its urgent and primary care services into New Jersey and opened its first new medical center in Woodbury on Route 45. Though it’s the company’s first location in the state, it’s the sixth in the area with other centers found in Montgomeryville, East Norriton, Pottstown, Springfield, and Feasterville in Pennsylvania. The center has six full- and part-time doctors and between 40 and 60 local employees on staff, and is open 365 days a year with 12 treatment rooms available. Services available include digital X-rays, routine prescriptions and lab work.

Dr. Clare Lipperini Stephens
The newest member of the Nemours duPont Pediatrics inpatient pediatric group at Inspira Woodbury, Stephens is known for being dedicated and treating every child as if they were her own. Stephens joined the Inspira team in August of 2014, after completing medical school at UMDNJ School of Osteopathic Medicine and her residency at Jefferson/Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. Colleagues use pointed words to describe her, such as “caring, empathetic and knowledgeable.” No matter if she’s dealing with a sick child or a new mother, this is one doctor that continues to make a difference in the lives of countless South Jersey families.


Dr. Dorit S. Berlin
The director of biobanking at Coriell Institute for Medical Research, Berlin is a strategic leader focused on all scientific and business biobanking processes such as biobanking logistics, core laboratory operations and government contract initiatives. A postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University prior to joining the staff at Coriell, Berlin founded and spearheaded DNATwist, an online pharmacogenomics teaching module. Addtionally Berlin also manages Coriell’s new lab facility in the San Francisco area and oversees its core scientific laboratories, including the Molecular Biology, Cell Culture, Stem Cell, and Cytogenomics Laboratories and Coriell’s cryogenic storage department. “It’s very rewarding to see our high-quality biological resources be used by researchers around the world to fuel scientific breakthroughs,” she says of her tireless efforts.

Rachel Pruchno and Paola Leone
Pruchno wears many hats—author, columnist and director of research at the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. In the last year and a half, Pruchno has received three federal grants nearing $4 million to study the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the elderly and the lingering effects of relocation and disruption of essential support services. As director of the Cell and Gene Therapy Center at RowanSOM, Leone provides key research into neurological disease. Leone’s cutting-edge research helped her receive a $477,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health so she can explore stem-cell based therapy for Canavan disease.


Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Horizon BCBSNJ’s patient-centered programs are being expanded in an effort to reduce unnecessary costs while simultaneously improving the overall experience for more than 750,000 members being treated. The provided practices include a care coordinator who provides additional patient support and information; wellness and preventive care based on national clinical guidelines; extra wellness support and education; active patient monitoring; and active coordination of a patient’s care with specialists and other providers. The approach is based on health insurance companies giving incentives to doctors who meet certain benchmarks in efficiency, patient satisfaction and clinical quality.

Founded in 2000 in Florida, this personalized health care model now has a national network of 800 MDVIP-affiliated physicians, 23 of whom are in New Jersey and five in South Jersey. The goal of their wellness program is to get away from the rushed doctors’ visits that have become the norm in health care and return to a more personalized approach, which includes office visits that are a minimum of 30 minutes. Dr. Steven Gerber, a physician in Cherry Hill affiliated with MDVIP, says, “It [is] very exciting to be able to work in a practice model where we have the time and tools to provide care the way I always envisioned it and how I was trained. … I can give people the time they need and not feel hurried.” He says he sees this model growing as patients realize an opportunity to be treated like a person, not a number.

Community Outreach

Helene Weinstein
In her role as marketing director for Cherry Hill Senior Living, Weinstein believes in providing seniors with the best quality of life possible. She regularly engages with businesses and groups in the community, educating them on senior living benefits, and she actively meets with families who need help navigating the health care system. Weinstein is also the treasurer for the Tri-County Regional Ethics Committee, a nonprofit group of health care professionals that helps resolve ethical issues through continuing education. “My passion is being able to provide services that help seniors live a better quality of life for as long as we can give it to them,” says Weinstein. “We all serve our seniors in different capacities and it’s important to educate the community and show that we can be a resource for their needs.”

AtlantiCare Community Healthcare Access Program
This program was implemented to assist residents of Atlantic, Cape May and southern Ocean counties who lost jobs at one of the many recently shuttered Atlantic City casinos. Funded by the AtlantiCare Foundation, the program provides information and assistance with health insurance options and a resolution for outstanding medical bills. AtlantiCare’s community involvement has also extended to half a million dollars in donations to area charities in addition to nearly $400,000 in community benefit donations it makes annually.


Camden County College, Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing and W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing at Thomas Edison State College
These three came together with the goal of helping the next generation find a home in the world of nursing. Their agreement has established the “Finish in Four” dual-admission program, which provides discounted tuition and a deferred payment option so students can complete a bachelor of science in nursing degree in four years. Students who complete the cooperative nursing program between Our Lady of Lourdes and Camden County College will earn an associates’ degree and are then prepared to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. This partnership will then allow those students who earn their RN designation to transfer into Edison’s RN-to-BSN program. As the demand for nurses with a BSN grows throughout the industry, these local entities are helping pave the way.

Cooper University Health Care and Inspira Medical Center Woodbury
In an effort to expand access for patients in Gloucester County to orthopedic specialists, these two hospitals have joined forces to create the Cooper Bone and Joint Institute at Inspira Woodbury. The new venture will allow physicians from both hospitals who specialize in areas like joint replacement and sports medicine to treat patients with easier access and availability. While renovations are underway at Inspira to make room for the new partnership, additional offices are slated to open in Glassboro and West Deptford in late 2015, further expanding its reach.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Virtua
Since the opening of CHOP and Virtua’s sleep center in Voorhees, it has performed more than 1,000 pediatric sleep studies. Thanks to the center’s capabilities, doctors can diagnose various sleep disorders from apnea of infancy and sleep walking to sleep-disordered breathing and delayed sleep phase syndrome. And it’s all done in a state-of-the-art facility that features age-appropriate beds or cribs, private bathrooms, high-end equipment—even a pullout couch for parents.

Unsung Heroes

Irene Seibert
An employee of Cardinal Village assisted living facility for more than two decades, Seibert is a familiar face for residents who think of her more like family. Whether they need a good laugh, a wound cared for or just an ice cream sandwich, Seibert delivers on every facet of the job and then some. Her compassion is fueled by her dedication to caring for others, and she gives of herself for the benefit of others making her a true treasure in the local health care community.

Paula Konstantinides
Virtua’s Konstantinides has been a nurse for almost 30 years and during that time she’s made her mark. Whether it was the development of Virtua’s diabetes program or working as the director of Virtua Fitness for nearly a decade, she has committed herself to helping others. She’s been recognized for her efforts, including being the recipient of a Daisy Award—an honor given to an outstanding nurse for their work on behalf of their patients and families.

Health Care Advocates

Ellen Magenheim
Magenheim has been involved in health care for more than 30 years with a simple goal: always help others. Her impressive career has seen her work in home health care, hospitals, rehab facilities as well as holding positions in pharmacy, nursing, operations and much more. She currently fills her time working as the president of the company she started in 2010—Halo Health International—using digital educational tools and placing them in physician offices and exam rooms in an effort to better help patients and their doctors make informed decisions on how to live healthier lives.

Michael Newell
Michael Newell, RN, MSN, is the founder and president of LifeSpan Care Management, LLC, a firm that offers health coordination and advocacy services to those with chronic illnesses or injuries. Services provided by his firm include attending doctor’s appointments, performing insurance appeals, negotiating health care provider charges and coordinating a client’s transition from one setting to another. Newell’s experience working with nursing homes, assisted living communities and home health agencies equips him to provide clients with the best advice regarding care quality, often resulting in saving thousands of dollars for them and their families.

Megan Valenzano
Some may not be familiar with the Medicare Therapy Cap, and Valenzano is out to change that. A physical therapist for Fox Rehabilitation, Valenzano has been leading their advocacy efforts to repeal the Medicare Therapy Cap, which sets a cap on the amount Medicare will reimburse for physical and occupational therapy. She created a social media campaign and a six-part video series to raise awareness and show Congress the gravity of the situation. “Health care right now is an ever-changing field, and there are a lot of issues making national news; unfortunately the therapy cap isn’t typically one of them,” says Valenzano. “That’s only because enough people aren’t speaking about the issue. If I can be the one person, or maybe inspire the people who would tip the scale then I think I’ve spent my time well.”


Dr. Richard Kasama
After he was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2006, Kasama, a nephrologist with Cooper University Health Care, underwent a year of chemotherapy before receiving a liver transplant in 2007, during which he went into kidney failure. Kasama pulled through and was able to see health care through the eyes of a patient. “I’ve always been empathetic with my patients, but it enlightened me how we doctors are not trained extensively to communicate with patients,” he says. “I was also able to witness and understand the frustration many patients feel with our insurance system.” He was inspired to use his experience for a book, which he is currently working on. Since his transplant, Kasama participates in the annual Donor Dash run/walk in Philadelphia to support the Gift of Life Family House. “Every year, the run falls around my birthday, and as a present, all of my family and friends participate and help raise money,” he says.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 5, Issue 3 (March, 2015).
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