March 2020


CAN Ribbon Cutting

UF Health CAN cuts ribbon on new facility

University of Florida Health today cut the ribbon on its new Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment, a multidisciplinary, collaborative facility that will provide specialized care and resources to children and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families.


To see all the media coverage from the ribbon-cutting visit the CAN website:

Ron Mejzak, DO

Dr. Mejzak represents FSAM in the Capitol

Addiction Medicine Fellow, Dr. Ron Mejzak, traveled to Tallahassee on behalf of the Florida Society for Addiction Medicine (FSAM) to speak on HB939, which would strengthen federal parity law enforcement in Florida for insurance parity for mental health and substance use disorder.



The Long and the Short of Benzodiazepines and Sleep Medications: Short-Term Benefits, Long-Term Harms?

A commentary in American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics by University of Florida neurologist Dr. Steven DeKosky & neuropsychologist Dr. John Williamson offers insight into a new study suggesting that the use of short-acting benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, and “z-drugs,” such as Ambien, is associated with increased risk of dementia diagnosis in older patients.

The commentary authors urged additional research and scrutiny, stating: “The apparent adverse effects of these medications in older patients (e.g., falls, cognitive effects) suggest that clinicians should be very cautious in their use in older patients.” Read the commentary in journal Therapeutics:

UF COM Research Poster Session

UF COM Research Poster Session

The annual research poster session is a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on the strength of our research programs and appreciate the breadth, quality, and merit of the science conducted within the College. This event reminds us that it is through discovery and the impact of our research that we improve the quality of human life, and in doing …




CARD Day at the Capitol 

UF CARD Director, Greg Valcante, PhD with the other Florida CARD directors and Representative Chris Latvala at CARD Day at the Capitol


Resident of the Month


Quality and Safety Stars

For our February Quality and Safety Star Award, we are honoring Drs. Kishan Nallapula, Michael Shapiro, and Richard D’alli. These physicians collaborated with primary care to ensure much-needed urgent psychiatric evaluation and treatment for a patient. Their willingness to work as a team and communicate made for highly efficient, effective, timely, and therefore quality, patient care. Thank you for being Quality and Safety Stars! 

Check out our latest Quality and Safety Star Awardees on the Quality whiteboard in the adult workroom at the MOB. 

If you have a nominee for future Quality and Safety Star Awards, please email Dr. Jackie Hobbs


Staff Spotlight

Dawn Roberts 

Dawn Roberts works behind the scenes to verify our financial transactions and to help develop policies to make our department more efficient. She frequently steps forward when something needs to be done in the office and is always willing to help out!  She is always pleasant and helpful. She has taken on the role of managing our assets and keeps track of our electronic equipment. She has developed good working relationships with other UF departments and has become a valuable resource for the Business Office. 

Thank you, Dawn, for all you do!

Richard Holbert, MD

TIC Update at UF Shands Psychiatric Hospital

The transition to a Trauma-Informed hospital has begun at UF Shands Psychiatric Hospital (UFSPH). Over the last few weeks, the nurses’ station windows have been cut approximately ½ from the top and on 2 units mostly eliminated. Evidence has demonstrated improved patient experience with open nurses’ stations and no evidence of an increase in aggression. We will plan to remove …



Tip of the Cap

Tip of the cap to the UF undergraduate volunteers for their helping hands at clinic this month. 

All of the patients appreciate the care they receive.

The next clinic is March 9th. Everyone is welcome to attend.

 Helping Hands Clinic


We need your help!

We'd like you to keep an eye out for those staff members that continually go above and beyond for the department.

Then we would like you to nominate them by submitting their name and a brief explanation of the awesome thing(s) they do!

The Executive Leadership Committee will vote on the candidates and we will announce the winner in the newsletter. 

Please submit your entries to Priscilla Spence by February 15th. 


UF CARE Newsletter 

Want to stay up to date on the latest in Addiction Research at UF?

Sign up for the UF CARE newsletter 

Find out about news, upcoming events, publications and more.

Check out the archive while you wait for the next issue to arrive in your inbox. 


New Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

An expansion of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides UF employees with improved access to mental health counselors as well as enhanced work life, financial and legal resources and services. To learn more about the expanded UF EAP, please visit If you have questions, please contact UFHR Communications and Worklife at (352) 392-2477 or


NEW Online CME Offering for UF & Non-UF Physicians 

FREE for UF persons, $35 for Non-UF persons per lecture. We have 18 lectures online for you to choose from!



March 5th | Master Dance Class for CARD Constituents

University of Florida Performing Arts (UFPA) and UF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UF CARD) are collaborating to offer UF CARD constituents (7 years old through high school age) an opportunity to participate in a dance masterclass.

NO DANCE EXPERIENCE REQUIRED! This is about fun and movement!

Thursday, March 5, 2020
5:30pm - 6:30pm

UF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities  (UF CARD)
(NEW LOCATION located off 39th Avenue in Health Park / Vista Building)
4101 NW 89th Boulevard Room 1750*
Gainesville, FL 32606
*Room 1750 is located in UF Rehab area of the building - follow green leaf decals on wall

If you have questions or experience any difficulties with this form please email or call UF CARD at 352-265-2230.
Register here:


March 9th - 12th | UF Health Patient Safety & Quality Week


March 11th | Addiction Medicine Presentation 

William Hollifield, MD 

Department of Psychiatry 

University of Florida


March 13th | Quality Improvement & Patient Safety Day


March 15th | Stomp the Swamp


March 16th | Walking Challenge

It’s that time of year again! Enjoy the spring weather and get those steps in. It’s never too early to get your team assembled!

Form a squad of four to twenty walkers, choose a division, and get to stepping!

Registration for the Spring Walking Challenge opens March 14. The challenge begins April 6 and will run through May 17.

Visit for more information.


March 27th | Grand Rounds


March 30 – April 4 | Diversity Week

Diversity and inclusion are core values at the UF College of Medicine. The Celebration of Diversity Week was designed to honor those values and explore opportunities to work within our community to promote cross-cultural understanding and address health care disparities.

Please join us for our 2020 celebration, which will take place March 30 – April 4

Schedule of events


April 3rd | Diversity Week Grand Rounds

Please save April 3rd for a special Grand Rounds to celebrate Diversity Week. 

McKnight Brain Institute, DeWeese Auditorium

12:00pm - 1:00pm

Please check the Grand Rounds Lecture pages for updates.


April 6th | CARE Symposium


April 10th | 5th Annual Dr. Richard C. Christensen Advocacy Day 

Please save April 10th for a special Grand Rounds to celebrate the 5th Annual Dr. Richard C. Christensen Advocacy Day.

Please check the Grand Rounds Lecture pages for updates.


April 17th & 18th | Autism & UF: Together We CAN


April 21st | Dr. Peter Vermeulen 


UF Coronavirus Updates

University officials are closely monitoring updates regarding the novel coronavirus and will continue to provide information as the situation evolves. All students, faculty and staff are urged to stay informed. UF communications and other details regarding the situation are posted at


Run. Hide. Fight.

If an active assailant is reported or encountered: Decide – Run. Hide. Fight.

RUN – If the assailant(s) location is known and the opportunity to escape is available, flee the area.

HIDE – If you are inside a building and the assailant(s) location is unknown, secure in place and deny access.

FIGHT – As a last resort and only if your life is in immediate danger, defend yourself.



This quarter focuses on physical activity and weight management with resources to help you get grooving in 2020 including: 

• The Get Up and Go Punch Card encourages folks to try our variety of free fitness classes, runs all quarter

• The March Madness Challenge is designed to create healthy activities around your basketball bracket, registration starts March 9

• The Spring Walking Challenge will run for six weeks in April and May, registration opens March 14

Check out the full Get Up and Go! schedule


Wellness Wednesdays

During this quarter’s Wellness Wednesday series, we’ll highlight some of the simple lifestyle changes that we can adopt to have a positive impact on our life. You can join us in-person for the first Wellness Wednesday of each month or tune in online for any of these sessions.

Please see each entry for links to registration, which vary. Visit UF at Work for links

All sessions will be held from noon to 1 p.m.

• March 4: From Dr. Google to Your Doctor: Improving Communication about Your Health
Carma Bylund, PhD, Department of Public Relations, College of Journalism and Communications, and Division of Hematology & Oncology, College of Medicine
Samantha R. Paige, PhD, MPH, CHES ®, UF STEM Translational Communication Center

• March 18: Kids and Meals: It Doesn’t Have to Be a Battleground
EAP Webinar


Ongoing FREE Fitness Classes

For the most up-to-date information on the ongoing fitness classes, please visit the GatorCare Calendar.


Mindful Relaxation Minutes 

March Mindfulness Leader:

Beatriz Elena de Bruna

Beatriz Elena de Bruna has taught meditation for over twenty years in both English and Spanish. She studied with meditation teachers from many practices, and after participating in the "Teacher Development Intensive" at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School her focus has been Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). She offers mindfulness courses in English or Spanish (or bilingual) for group and individual instruction at a variety of locations including community centers, health centers, homes, and hospitals.

Please be sure to join us Thursdays at 12:15pm via videoconference at MBI, MOB, Little Springhill or 

Join Zoom Meeting using:

 Dial in toll-free: 1-888-585-9008, Conference Room ID#: 524541356   (Please use *2 to mute your line once you have joined.​)


Do you have some news or an announcement you would like to share?

Do you know someone who has gone above and beyond and who you would like to recognize? 

Want us to save the date for an upcoming event?

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