August 2020


UF Health Shands named among nation's best hospitals

The UF Health Shands Hospital emerged as Florida’s top health center and one of the nation’s elite in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2020-21 Best Hospitals survey, with a remarkable nine medical specialties placing in the nation’s Top 50 — more than any other hospital in the Sunshine State.

The Best Hospitals rankings are based on survival rates, patient safety and specialized staff across 16 adult medical specialties at nearly 5,000 medical centers. U.S. News also analyzed survey responses from thousands of physicians as part of the rankings.

Read the full UF Health News article


Child Psychiatry receives five year $1.42M contract to create Florida Pediatric Behavioral Health Collaborative network

The University of Florida Department of Psychiatry, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has executed a five year, $1,425,000 contract with the Department of Health, Division of Children’s Medical Services, for the purpose of developing …


Dawn Bruijnzeel VA award

Dawn Bruijnzeel receives VA Award for Excellence

Dawn Bruijnzeel, MD has been awarded the Department of Veterans Affairs Dr. Richard R. Streiff Award for Clinical Excellence. Dr. Bruijnzeel received this award for her commitment to the highest quality and compassionate care, her attention to the medical, educational, and personal needs of others, and for making a difference in the lives of those around her. Congratulations Dr. Bruijnzeel!


NDEWS team photo

University of Florida named coordinating center for national drug abuse surveillance system

Sara Jo Nixon, PhD is part of the UF team that will lead nationwide efforts to identify emerging drug abuse trends as the coordinating center for a surveillance network that will monitor the ongoing opioid crisis and new public health threats.



Anti-Racism and Health Equity Group

Join the Anti-Racism and Health Equity Group on the UF Health Bridge. A learning collaborative focused on anti-racism, social justice and health equity. With participation from staff, trainees and faculty, so we can learn together and from one another, strengthening our teams. Find out about resources, activities, and events by becoming a member. 



Fear Facers holds virtual camp

Check out the Fear Facers virtual "campsite" for sume fun and interactive videos from some of your favorite camp counselors!



Protecting UF Together: Enroll Now in UF Two-Factor

The University of Florida has established a mandatory date for all staff to enroll in multi-factor authentication: August 12, 2020.

As a reminder, multi-factor authentication is an additional layer of security on UF systems and data, like your financial, academic, and medical records. The enrollment process only takes a few minutes and is very easy to do. Visit today and enroll:

All staff are highly encouraged to self-enroll now. Enrolling now ensures access to UF systems like myUFL and ONE.UF. For more information on why and how to enroll, watch the university's multi-factor video:

When it comes to protecting the UF network and the information that flows through it, we are all Protecting UF Together. Play your part by enrolling today. 


COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Resources



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


Busting COVID-19 myths


Have you had it with all of the hearsay? The World Health Organization is sorting fact from fiction with their Coronavirus Myth Busters resource. Stay empowered by staying informed.

Learn More »


Reminder that we have a new centralized contact for any UFCOM/UF Health employees in need of mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

• Psychiatric medication consultation and management

• Free individual short-term counseling

• Individual psychotherapy

• Resilience-based group therapy

If anyone reaches out to you for assistance, please encourage them call the UF Health Staff Telepsych Services center between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. (7 days per week) at 352-265-5459 or email [please provide name, contact number, and best time(s) to receive a call back].



The Gator community sticks together in all kinds of weather, and that's never more evident than in times of transition and hardship. Aid-a-Gator has processed more than 1,000 requests for a total of $955,695 from students to help cover a variety of needs, including rent due to lost wages, unanticipated travel, additional technology requirements, replacements of medications, emergency childcare due to extended school closures, and other needs. To file an application or to donate for students, visit and for employees, visit


Get a Plan / Get a Kit / Be Informed

We continue our preparedness on Get a Plan / Get a Kit / Be Informed by focusing on personal disaster supplies. A basic kit includes needed items for 3 days. While a kit should be customized to your specific situation, below are general guidelines to follow. A printer-friendly version is also available for handy reference.



Plan for hurricane season

With a more active than usual Atlantic hurricane season started June 1st, University of Florida disaster preparation experts say it’s time to plan, not panic.

“We likely will need to take an extra step in how we do the things we know how to do to prepare and mitigate and recover,” said Angie Lindsey, assistant professor in the Department of Family, Youth & Community Sciences. “We’re Floridians. We’ve gotten through a lot before, but what we have typically done in the past during hurricane season may not work this year due to COVID-19.”



Tessy Korah, MD and Louis Solomon, MD were Nominated for the CEO Service Award for their outstanding display of customer service. Drs. Korah and Solomon are a vital part of the UF Health Psychiatry team.

The UF Health Shands Customer Service is the Key (CSK) program is our benchmark employee recognition program, and it is the best way to make sure outstanding behavior and/or performance is recognized. All nominated employees receive a gold key and a CSK pin to wear with their ID badge. Extraordinary nominations are considered for gift cards and other recognition.

Every quarter an average of 3,200 employee nominations are received, all CSK nominations are reviewed, and one extraordinary nomination is selected as a CEO Award Winner.


Resident of the Month


Quality and Safety Star

Michael Bilak, MD

For our July Quality and Safety Star Award, we are honoring Dr. Michael Bilak. He recognized a patient with an emergent, life-threatening condition while on call and ensured the patient received quick transfer to the ED. Timely care is quality care. Thank you for being a Quality and Safety Star!

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


Safal Desai

Our Staff Spotlight for this month is Safal Desai, Safal is a Revenue Cycle Manager and liaison for clinic operations and clinic business development. Safal has done a great job supporting the clinic faculty, staff and clinic managers with inpatient/outpatient billing and coding operations. Safal and his team of coders do a wonderful job reviewing to make sure all coding and billing are in comliance with rules and regulations. We greatly appreciate all of his hard work during this time! We are grateful for your dedication and commitment to supporting the missions our department and your co-workers.

Thank you Safal for all you do for our department!


Tip of the Cap

Tip of the cap to Dr. Rob Averbuch and all the UF undergrad volunteers for their helping hands last night at clinic. All of the patients appreciate their care. 

The patients appreciate the care given by all the UF volunteers. 

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


Clinical Research Seed Funding Opportunity Announcement

The Department of Psychiatry has released a new clinical research seed funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for which applications are now being accepted.

The purpose of the Psychiatry Clinical Research Seed Money Award is to provide financial support for faculty members in the UF Department of Psychiatry to initiate and develop a program of clinical research.  For purposes of this FOA, a “faculty member” is defined as faculty who have a minimum of 0.5 FTE appointment, not an Adjunct Faculty, Courtesy Faculty or OPS professional. Consideration will be given to junior faculty, post-graduate fellows in research training programs and senior faculty planning a change in career direction that requires empirical research.  Funding decisions will be based on the proposal’s scientific merit, its relevance to the clinical and academic emphases of the Department of Psychiatry and the potential for the proposed project to facilitate future extramural research support.

Opportunity Title: Psychiatry Clinical Research Seed Money Award 
Award Amount: $10,000 to $20,000 for one year
Award Period: 1 year 
Annual Application Due Dates: August 1st & March 1st

Please contact Nicole Bristow at with any questions or for the FOA.


UF CARD Update

UF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities is hosting online social/support groups for adults and teens with ASD & related disabilities, parents/caregivers, and siblings. Please see the UF CARD Events page ( for details.  

If you know someone in need of UF CARD services please direct them to the UF CARD registration page ( or have them call 352-265-2230. 


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


Welcome our new psychiatry residents!


Welcome our Neuromodulation fellow! 

Siva Sundeep Koppolu, MBBS 


Welcome our Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellows! 



Terry Lemesh

Congratulations and Happy Retirement! Thank you Terry for your years of dedication to the department, you will be missed!


Christopher Ong, MD

Dr. Ong has been with the department for 7 years, as a resident, fellow, and attending. Dr. Ong has opened his own telepsychiatry practice, OngPoint Health and will be working out of Palo Alto, CA. Thank you Dr. Ong for all your contributions to the department and best of luck on your new endeavors.


October 1-2| NNDC Annual Conference

As you know, the NNDC conference is going virtual this year on October 1-2. They will have six sessions spread over two days that you can plug into no matter where you are. The theme is Advances in Psychiatry: COVID-19 and Beyond and are excited to bring sessions on public health and prevention, returning to clinical research, and updates from the task groups. Each session will include panelists, a Q & A segment, and the opportunity to write in questions for the experts. 

In the coming weeks, NNDC will release more information about the 2020 conference including: registration information, ticket prices, program guide, and more. 

• When: October 1 - 2, 2020

• Time: TBD

• Location: Virtual



Resources to Promote Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak

While we are maintaining social distance and/or quarantined, many people lose access to resources that support their self-care. Here is a list of resources to help you navigate this challenging time while maintaining your own well-being.


Guided Meditations

Lead by Dr. Carol Lewis and Dr. Lori Waxenberg, these guided meditations, ranging from 1 1/2 to 15 minutes, will help you learn to notice thoughts, sensations, and emotions without being swept away by them. They have been shown to benefit both physical and emotional health.

Meditation Playlist »


Streamed Fitness Class

Join a GatorCare staff member on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon for 15 minutes of an office (or home office)-friendly workout. No need to leave the office or change out of office clothes! Can’t join the live stream? Check out the recorded streams here.

Meeting URL:



Mindful Relaxation Minutes 


Please be sure to join us Thursdays at 12:15pm via Zoom.

Join Zoom Meeting using:



2 Minute Resilience Reset 

Try these 2 minute sessions hosted by Dr. Carol Lewis that focus on breathing to stimulate the soothing part of the nervous system, and learn a practical tip from resilience science to help you maintain your stability in these difficult times.


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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