Patient Stories

Patient Stories

Each year, thousands of Broward Health patients pass through our doors looking for care. Below are just a few of their inspiring stories of struggle, strength, healing, and hope.


"I have no lasting effects from the stroke. I can play tennis and exercise at the gym. I couldn't be happier with the results."

–Mary Louise

A fitness enthusiast and avid tennis player, Mary Louise never expected to have a stroke. But when she showed signs of paralysis on her left side, her husband immediately called an ambulance which took her straight to Broward Health Medical Center. The emergency medical team determined that a stroke was causing her symptoms. Immediately, vascular and interventional neurologist, Ridwin Lin, MD, performed a minimally invasive procedure on Mary Louise. His immediate action spared her from any permanent paralysis – and possibly saved her life.

Broward Health Medical Center’s Comprehensive Stroke Center has been recognized by the Agency for Health Care Administration and by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guideline®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. Our approach builds on a foundation of exceptional medical and surgical care with a team of multidisciplinary specialists that includes board certified physicians, specially trained nurses and staff whose goal is to help you get back in the game.

For more information or a referral to one of our stroke centers, call 954-759-7500 or click here.

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"Thanks to Dr. Yoldas and the surgery, combined with the physical therapy that I still do now, I'm strengthening my legs and improving every day"

–Clara Smiddy

Clara Smiddy's legs were everything to her. An elite swimmer on the brink of a promising career, Clara's painful knee injury was more than a setback. It was a devastating blow to her dreams.

With little cartilage in her knee and despite undergoing an unsuccessful surgery with one orthopedic surgeon, Clara was left with few options. So she turned to Dr. Erol Yoldas. Yoldas, a respected orthopedist and team physician for the Miami Marlins, saw hope in Clara's situation. He performed an arthroscopic cartilage growth procedure and recommended a customized physical therapy program.

Today, two years after the surgery, 18-year-old Clara is back on top of the athletic podium. She won the Junior National Championships in her age group and placed third overall in the U.S. Open in the 100-meter backstroke in a time that was three seconds faster than before her knee surgery. She represented the United States in Dubai at the FINA World Junior Championship, where she won three bronze medals. Four months later, Clara won the high point trophy at the Junior National Championship, where her 200-yard backstroke time was the ninth fastest in women's history, placing her just behind Olympian Missy Franklin's time.

Bound for the University of Michigan on an athletic scholarship, Clara couldn't be in better physical shape. And she has Dr. Yoldas' care and dedication to thank for it.

For more information or a referral to one of our orthopedic specialists, call 954-759-7500 or click here.

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"I'm grateful that I had the surgery. It's made a real difference in my life."

–Carol Finlayson

When Carol broke her ankle, she could not have imagined that the incident might have saved her life. She needed surgery to repair the break but she was also given a diagnosis she was not expecting. Carol was suffering from atrial fibrillation or AFib, a serious medical condition that can result in blood clots or stroke.

Understanding the risks associated with AFib, Carol, who had enjoyed rollerblading and other outdoor activities, was anxious and decided to stop. Last year her physician suggested she visit Ahmed Osman, M.D., Medical Director of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab at the Heart Center of Excellence who specializes in AFib. Carol was a perfect candidate for cryoablation, a minimally invasive procedure and one of the advanced treatment options used today in treating AFib.

Carol had surgery on Thursday and returned to her job on Tuesday. Today Carol is enjoying rollerblading again–without the anxiety. For more information about our cardiac services, click here.

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“From the scheduling of my BRAC 1 test, to my subsequent mammogram, ultrasound, early detection and surgery, I received exemplary care from every member of the medical team. The level of patient care at Broward Health is amazing. It can’t be said enough; a positive attitude means everything in the battle against cancer. At the age of 60, I learned not to sweat the small stuff and to enjoy the moment to its fullest. Plus, always let the people who are in your life know how you appreciate and care for them. My daughter and I do the three-day, 60-mile breast cancer walks in a different city each year. I want to get involved in helping other breast cancer patients. It’s my small way of giving back."

–Eileen Kearns

Eileen was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2013. She and her daughter tested positive for the BRCA 1 mutation in April and had requested to be placed in a monitoring group to be checked every six months with a mammogram, ultrasound and/or MRI for any changes. For more information about Broward Health's breast cancer services, visit:

Photo credit: Sun-Sentinel

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“I made it through with the simple love of life, the relentless prayer of family and friends and a deep belief. The medical staff and social workers, who merit to be called angels, have helped me and my entire family to remain stoic throughout my battle, a battle that the staff at Broward Health North call their own. Compassion and competence reign at Broward Health North, a facility whose staff practices the true meaning of their vocations with grace, kindness, respect and love. They have changed my life and have become a part of me. I AM BECAUSE THEY ARE."

–A. Pia Ferro

A. Pia Ferro was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal (metastasized) breast cancer. She credits the support of family and friends for helping her make it through this challenging time. For more information about Broward Health North's cancer services, visit:

Photo credit: Sun-Sentinel

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“The staff (at Broward Health North) was wonderful, caring and understanding. They were always smiling; wonderful people. I surprised myself because I was looking forward to getting my treatments. I wish I could emphasize how caring and helpful they were. I couldn’t ask for more from the doctors, nurses and even the security guards! Every day is a gift. Love your family. You'll get through it; the future is brighter. Have faith, talk and get informed about breast cancer. Knowledge is the key.”

–Lise Bessette

Lise Bessette was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2012 and a month later her husband was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. For more information about Broward Health North’s cancer services, visit:

Photo credit: Sun-Sentinel

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"Treatment was not an easy road, but knowing that at the end of the tunnel there is always a light to guide me on my way, I remained calm and entrusted the knowledgeable doctors and nurses with my entire life. I became a ‘frequent flyer’ of Broward Health Medical Center. I sincerely thank Doctors (Archana ) Maini and (David) Bimston, all the nurses in the infusion center, Steve Hair from radiation and the social workers in the cancer center for the pride and passion they take in their work.”

–Netlyn Charles

Netlyn Charles was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer on Nov. 21, 2008. For more information about Broward Health’s breast cancer services, visit:

Photo credit: Sun-Sentinel


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“Dr. (Julio) Montejo and his team did an excellent job of keeping me informed at every step of my treatment, in addition to educating me on how to complete daily dressing changes and compression wrappings so that I would have more control over my treatment and heal quicker. They were gentle, patient and thoroughly explained everything to me and answered my every question. They provided me with amazing care.”

–Martin Walderman

Martin Walderman suffered from second degree burns that resulted from a three gallon pot of scalding hot water crashing onto the ground and spilling over his right foot. Thanks to the care he received at Broward Health Imperial Point's Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine, he is healing nicely.

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At 29 years old I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. Then, 12 years later in 2003, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I have been a survivor for most of my adult life.

After the initial shock of the diagnosis, my family went into combat mode. They were there for me every step of the way and still are today. My brother Vince and his wife Terry created the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund in my honor. As for me, I've been involved with the National Breast Cancer Coalition, Co-Founder of the Florida Breast Cancer Coalition, volunteer for the American Cancer Society, current Board Member for Women Beyond Cancer and Co-Founder of the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund. My Dad once said, "Cancer has become your career." In a way, he's right. It has changed my life in so many ways.

It is one of my goals to be able to screen all women in Broward County who don't have insurance. Our fund has screened over 700 women, of which 37 tested positive for breast cancer. If cancer never touched my life, 37 women may not have had the chance to become a survivor. I'm so proud to have been involved in that. To those struggling with this disease, I say never give up. Believe in yourself; stay focused while doing treatment and be proactive in your treatment. Surviving any type of illness requires a lot of work, dedication and determination. Oh, and don't forget to have fun and do what makes you happy!

– Lisa Boccard

The mission of the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund is to provide funding for care that may otherwise be unattainable, for the women in our community to obtain screening mammograms. [learn more]

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Elina BatistaLast October during a routine visit to my primary care physician, Dr. Lillian Beer, she found a lump. Dr. Beer sent me for a mammogram at Broward Health Coral Springs. I was then referred to another doctor who continued with a series of medical exams. That's when I was told I had breast cancer in my right breast. I was scared to death.

My mother was a breast cancer survivor, and at my age she had a double mastectomy. I was terrified that I would have to go through the same ordeal. Thankfully my doctor, Dr. Porudomisky was able to save my breast. I had a lumpectomy performed at Broward Health North. Then I had six weeks of chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments.

My family was all very supportive and positive. We have a long history of cancer, so we have been down this road before. Each time we survive with tears, love and prayer. I tried to stay positive, to keep my spirits up. I prayed a lot, I meditated and thanked God for the strength he obviously thought I had and the strength I needed to find.

– Elina Batista

The Comprehensive Cancer Center at Broward Health North is committed to providing excellent, compassionate care to our cancer patients and their families. Our team approach to cancer care offers many innovative and state-of-the-art methods of cancer treatment. [learn more]

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Lainie SchultzMy full time job is fighting cancer. I owe my life to Broward Health and my incredible
team of doctors. They are the reason I am here today.

– Lainie Schultz, five-time cancer survivor

To hear more of Lainie's inspirational story, click here.

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Alex PlancoOur entire family wants to thank you for the expert care for Alex. The tear in his labrum had been undiagnosed by 3 other orthopedists. Alex had surgery Aug. 7 and was out of pain in 24 hours and ten days later he went to school without a brace or crutches. Your knowledge and experience made the diagnosis on his other hip accurately and the surgery again healed perfectly.

What has also impressed us is that you have surrounded yourself with an outstanding staff that makes your office very comfortable for your patients and families. The communication with your office has also been very easy. They all seem to know who we are when we call and always return calls timely with all questions answered.

The compassion from you and your staff made us at ease with the decision to have the surgeries that Alex needed. We had every confidence that he would do well and he's done so much better than that.

– Planco family

An avid athlete since he was 8, Alex had to quit sports at 15 because of severe hip pain – "10 on a scale of 10," as his mother described it. Yet three specialists couldn't diagnose it, and three months of therapy couldn't relieve it.

After an MRI revealed ligament tears in both hips, a rehab physical therapist and a chiropractor recommended Broward Health orthopedic specialist Dr. Dominic Carreira. "Beyond the recommendations, we just liked him immediately," said Mrs. Planco, who also conducted her own extensive research online and was impressed by what she learned. Dr. Carreira performed bilateral hip arthroscopy – a minimally invasive outpatient procedure – and prescribed a very specific course of physical therapy. Now Alex is pain-free and back on the field.

For more information or a referral to one of our orthopedic specialists, call 954-759-7500 or click here.

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Hans OhrtFrom the minute I first walked into Broward Health Medical Center - I knew that this was a hospital unlike any other I had seen. The positive and generally friendly attitude of the nurses and the staff – and their very high level of competence and dedication to the wellbeing of the patients put me at ease right away.

Dr. Carreira was so highly recommended that I traveled more than 10,000 miles to see him for a serious foot infection. It was worth every minute of the 45-minute boat trip to the nearest town with an airport, two hour flight to the international airport in Den Pasar, and the long travel stretches via Taiwan and Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale. He saved my foot and six weeks later I walked out of his office - a fully recovered new member of Dr. Carreira's fan club.

– Hans Ohrt

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Rebecca Snyder & her husbandI woke up one morning and couldn't hear. An MRI revealed a slow-growing tumor in my ear canal. I wanted to know all my options before undergoing surgery. That same day I happened to read about the CyberKnife®. Deciding between CyberKnife® and having my skull cut open was a no-brainer. I called right away.

After three sessions of CyberKnife® treatments, the tumor stopped growing and my hearing came back.

– Rebecca Snyder

Broward Health North is home to one of South Florida's most experienced Cyberknife® teams. With the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System, our radiation oncologists can painlessly treat tumors with sub-millimeter accuracy – even hard-to-reach tumors. [learn more]

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Stuart RatnerAn angiogram revealed my major arteries were 95 percent blocked. Dr. Catinella looked me right in the eyes, firmly shook my hand, gently squeezed my shoulder and told me to relax, that I would be fine. I really needed to hear that from him and I believed him.

From the moment I walked into the hospital, the quality of the care I received and continue to receive, the respect and kindness, the degree of professionalism and the overall feeling that everyone who came in contact with me really cared, was truly amazing. People need to know how lucky we all are to have such a renowned and exceptional health facility in our own back yard.

– Stuart Ratner

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I had almost no use of my left arm after injuring it on a ski trip. I turned to Dr. George Caldwell, who’d performed surgery on many of my friends and colleagues. After rotator cuff surgery and a tendonectomy as well as 5 months of physical therapy - I have full range of motion and am back to doing weight and strength training. I am pain-free and can play with my grandchildren!

– Howard Greenberg

For more information or a referral to one of our orthopedic specialists, call 954-759-7500 or click here.

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Greg BolinskyDuring the day my energy level was so low I couldn't stay awake. After having a sleep study at Broward Health Coral Springs's Sleep Disorders Center, the experts found that my breathing stopped periodically preventing me from getting a restful night's sleep.

Since my treatment, I now sleep soundly through the night, thanks to the specialized team of medical professionals. Today I have enough energy to not only keep up with my two Boxers, I lead the pack!

– Greg Bolinsky

Make your dreams come true by finding a sleep solution with our experienced and specialized medical team. The Sleep Disorders Center offers a comprehensive program that is dedicated to the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders for adults and children. [learn more]

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BrookeI had the worlds best pregnancy until I went into labor at 28 weeks. The nurses and doctors put blood sweat and tears into saving my daughters life. There were nights that the doctor would sit in the rocking chair next to her incubator all night. The staff there became our family and our friends. We were terrified, but confident that she was in the right place with the right people.

Dr. Tryzmel made a decision very early on to start her on antibiotics just based on minor changes. We found out later that she was septic with E. coli. She survived because the antibiotics were started so early. We are forever grateful to him.

Today, Brooke is perfect and spunky and full of life. These AMAZING people that work in the NICU see joy and pain every day, they go home and come back every single day with a smile on their face and only one thing in mind, TO SAVE THE BABIES!

– Susie Elmore

Read more about Brooke's amazing journey here.

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Tom McCarthyThe peak of Mt. Whitney is 14,497 ft. above sea level and the hike up is very strenuous. From the starting point at Whitney Portal it is a 22 mile round trip adventure. Unbeknownst to us was the amount of rocks on the trail. At times the trail was just a slice of granite we had to negotiate over.

Thank goodness I had an excellent surgeon. Dr. Yoldas took care of my ACL replacement and then some outstanding PT follow up to get me ready for this adventure.

I am very thankful to him for doing such excellent work and for having the confidence in me to encourage my venture up the mountain.

– Tom McCarthy

Five months after surgery, Tom signed the logbook at the summit of Mt. Whitney. Your ambitions may not be as lofty as Tom’s, but you don’t have to let joint and ligament damage get in the way of enjoying life. Not when some of the finest orthopedic specialists in the country are here at Broward Health -- just call 954-759-7400 or click here for a referral to an orthopedic specialist. [learn more]

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Donna ZappinI began experiencing pain a couple of years ago. It got so bad that one day I couldn't get out of my car. I'm so thankful I found out about the anterior approach to hip replacement. I almost didn't know I had a choice. Thanks to Dr. Naide, my recovery was quick and easy – I was back to yoga in just 3 ½ weeks.

– Donna Zappin

The Joint Replacement Center at Broward Health North features the specially-designed hana table, which allows surgeons to replace the hip without cutting any muscles, resulting in a faster recovery, less pain, smaller incision and less scarring. The experienced orthopedic surgeons at Broward Health North have performed more anterior hip replacement surgeries using the hana table than any other area surgeons. [learn more]

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AmyBefore my double knee replacement surgery the pain was making me a recluse. Every day life was a struggle, and I gained weight because I could barely walk. Now, I feel great and am exercising and have lost 45 pounds! I've been able to cut my diabetes medicine in half. Dr. Berkowitz and his team gave me my life back. I can live my life like I did years ago. There are no limits and life is good.  

– Amy

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Marilyn Pennachio with her fatherWhen I found out that my dad had Alzheimer's Disease, I didn't know what to expect. I knew nothing of the disease or how it would change not only his life, but mine as well. Without the caregiver support programs at Broward Health North's Memory Disorder Center, I would have been lost. They serve not only as a source of information, but also shoulders to cry on. It is so comforting to be with people who understand exactly what you're going through.

– Marilyn Pennachio

The Memory Disorder Center at Broward Health North is the first in the nation to receive Joint Commission Certification for its Alzheimer's program and offers a complete network of assistance for both patients and caregivers. [learn more]

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Kathy ConnellWhen I found out I had cancer, I was terrified. A flood of emotions overtook me. What was I going to do with my daughters, Megan and Marisa? As soon as I stepped into the Women's Diagnostic and Wellness Center at Broward Health Coral Springs, I knew I was not going to have to go through this alone. The medical staff was extremely compassionate, knowledgeable and professional.

– Kathy Connell

With the latest technology in breast cancer screening, the Women's Diagnostic & Wellness Center at Broward Health Coral Springs offers digital mammography and breast MRI to detect disease earlier when it is treatable, saving your breast or your life. Our specialists understand the unique health needs of women, and help get you back to living. [learn more]

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Lila HirschmannAfter developing a diabetic foot infection that led to a toe amputation, I needed hyperbaric treatment to heal. Today I am back on the dance floor with my husband thanks to Broward Health Coral Springs's Center For Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine. I was so frightened. But they treated me beautifully in every step of the process, and got me back in my dancing shoes. I can't thank them enough.

– Lila Hirschmann

Don't let a chronic non-healing wound keep you from doing the things you love. The specialists at Broward Health Coral Springs's Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine utilize the most advanced therapies for wound healing. [learn more]

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Jump to a Story

Clara Smiddy
Orthopedic Services

Martin Walderman
Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine at Broward Health Imperial Point

Lisa Boccard
Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund

Elina Batista
Comprehensive Cancer Center at Broward Health North

Lainie Schultz
Cancer Center at Broward Health Medical Center

Alex Planco
Hip Arthroscopy

Hans Ohrt
Foot surgery at Broward Health Medical Center

Rebecca Snyder
CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System

Stuart Ratner
Heart Center of Excellence

Howard Greenberg
Rotator Cuff Surgery

Greg Bolinsky
Sleep Disorders Center at Broward Health Coral Springs

Brooke Elmore
Chris Evert Children's Hospital NICU

Tom McCarthy
ACL Repair

Donna Zappin
Joint Replacement Center at Broward Health North

Knee Replacement Surgery

Marilyn Pennachio
Memory Disorder Center at Broward Health North

Kathy Connell
Women's Diagnostic & Wellness Center

Lila Hirschmann
Broward Health Coral Springs's Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine

Carol Finlayson
The Heart Center of Excellence at Broward Health Medical Center

Eileen Kearns
Breast services at Broward Health Medical Center

Pia Ferro
Cancer services at Broward Health North

Lise Bessette
Cancer services at Broward Health North

Netlyn Charles
Breast Cancer services at Broward Health Medical Center