2023 FMA Award Winners
By Erika Peterman, FMA Managing Editor of FMA Publications | Aug. 17, 2023

Harold S. Strasser, MD Good Samaritan Award: Lee Gross, MD
After Hurricane Ian tore through North Port, Fla., and forced the city’s only emergency room to close temporarily, Lee Gross, MD, mobilized to assist patients in need. He did so even as his own practice, Epiphany Direct Primary Care, was shuttered by storm damage and without power or water. Along with his team, the family medicine physician set up an outdoor/drive-up community clinic. Additionally, Dr. Gross not only navigated flooded roads to make house calls but also kept patients and physicians informed through social media while phone lines were down.

Alma Littles, MD receives an award from Joshua Lenchus, DO

Gerold L. Schiebler, MD Advocate for Medical Students Award: Alma Littles, MD
FMA Secretary and Florida State University College of Medicine Interim Dean Alma Littles, MD, has been involved in medical education since 1989, when she began precepting medical students and residents in her rural medical practice in Gadsden County. Dr. Littles, a Board-certified family medicine physician and Past President of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians, joined the faculty of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare’s family practice residency program in 1996 and became program director in 1999. In the early 2000s, she was instrumental in the founding and opening of FSU’s medical school. Throughout her career as a practicing physician, medical educator, and organized medicine leader, Dr. Littles has remained committed to improving access to care for underserved patients.

Meredith Hirsh, MBA, (left) and Julie Ramirez (right) receive their FMA Award
Meredith Hirsh, MBA, (left) and Julie Ramirez (right) receive their FMA Distinguished Layman’s Award

Distinguished Layman’s Award: Meredith Hirsh, MBA, and Julie Ramirez
Meredith Hirsh, MBA, is a tireless advocate for independent practice physicians, their staff members, and their patients. She is co-founder and vice president of The Hirsh Center, a thriving rheumatology practice in Delray Beach, Fla., and she frequently volunteers to educate other medical practice administrators and champion pro-physician legislative policies. Hirsh co-created and teaches the Certified Medical Business Management program at Florida Atlantic University, and she has received many awards and accolades for her leadership in the practice management arena.

Last September, Lee County Medical Society Executive Director Julie Ramirez organized the medical community to support patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. In addition to helping coordinate volunteer medical services in Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel, she assisted local physicians with finding accommodations while their storm-damaged homes were undergoing repairs. Through texts and email alerts, she shared information about hurricane recovery resources with area physicians and residents.

Roy M. Baker, MD Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Provision of Emergency Medical Services by a Physician or Layperson: Carl Schultz, DO; Catherine Law, MD; Jeffrey Halsell, DO; Tyler Spradling, DO; Krista Zivkovic, DO; Amber Jandik, MD, Julie Ramirez, Angela Smith, and Megan Widman
Hurricane Ian left Sanibel Island in wreckage and without a medical care team last September — but not for long. Carl Schultz, DO, a retired Fort Myers emergency medicine physician, contacted Lee County’s Division of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and asked how volunteer clinicians could begin seeing Sanibel residents and workers. With an air-conditioned mobile trailer set up by EMS and supplies from FEMA, Dr. Schultz and Lee County Medical Society Executive Director Julie Ramirez started recruiting physician volunteers to staff a makeshift clinic. The county health department granted the volunteers sovereign immunity, effectively resurrecting the Lee County Medical Reserve Corps, and the clinic was open by Nov. 1. For about seven weeks, Dr. Schultz, Catherine Law, MD; Jeffrey Halsell, DO; Tyler Spradling, DO; Krista Zivkovic, DO; and Amber Jandik, MD, served patients at the clinic without pay.

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