Suzana Cane, APN

Nurse Practitioner Transitions Patients from Hospital to Home

“There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone get the care they need when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Suzana Cane learned the value of caring for others when she was just 17. She helped her mother with her uncle near the end of his life. “It gave me the idea that I wanted to be a nurse,” she said, “and be able to help patients and their families through difficult times.”

That experience launched Suzana on an educational journey that went well beyond her Registered Nursing (RN) studies. She earned her Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) credentials. “I wanted to be able to do more to help,” she explained. “Now I am able to treat the whole patient, make medical diagnoses and prescribe medications as needed.”

Suzana brings deep and broad experience to Vanguard. She has worked in a variety of settings, from hospitals to subacute rehabilitation facilities to long-term care. In her role as a transitional care nurse, Suzana visits recently hospitalized patients at home to help in their recovery and to prevent readmission.

The transitional care program starts with a visit to the patient in the hospital. That’s where Suzana introduces herself and explains the program. This is followed by the home visit, which involves a physical exam and time spent with the patient going over medications and follow-up instructions. During the visit, she may make follow-up appointments for specialists, check in with home care agencies, and advise on nutrition and exercise.

She especially enjoys that she can do all of that in a home environment. “In the hospital, it’s easy to become overwhelmed,” she noted. “When patients are home, they are less anxious and more comfortable. It’s an easier time to teach a patient and family members how to use devices, medications, etc. Importantly, I take the time to listen and address their concerns and make sure they are getting the correct care.”

When she’s not working, Suzana enjoys listening to music and watching movies with her two kids. Family is important to her, and she spends as much time as she can with her 93-year-old father.

Sydney Pacelli, PA-C

Physician Assistant Partners with Patients on Long-Term Health

“We need to do as much as we can to maximize patients’ health before the point where medical interventions are needed.

Sydney Pacelli was deciding between medical school and a career in research when she discovered the physician assistant profession. “I learned about physician assistants from a family friend, a physician,” she said, “and when I did some research, I found that it was exactly what I wanted.” She valued the opportunity to follow patients’ health long term and enact meaningful change. She especially liked the physician assistant’s role in a team-based approach to healthcare with the focus on the patient at its core.

Sydney chose Vanguard because of the practice’s focus on a medical home. “It’s so important to keep patient care within the community with providers who understand the role of access in delivering quality healthcare,” she said.

Primary care is all about preventive health, noted Sydney, and she strives to meet her patients where they are. “I know how difficult it can be to prioritize diet and exercise, and so we focus on making positive choices and taking small steps toward a larger goal.” Sydney’s patients like that she takes the time to really listen to their concerns and needs, and address them. “I want to build trust with my patients and develop those relationships over time with quality care and follow-up.”

When she’s not working, Sydney enjoys spending time with friends and family, including her three dogs, Tux, Bowtie and Blazer. She also is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys a guilty pleasure—reality TV shows.

Manish V. Bhalodia, MD, FACC

VMG Cardiologist Helps Patients Improve Quality of Life

“I’m an advocate for a healthy lifestyle in the treatment of heart disease. Diet, sleep and exercise are part of the regimen.”

From vegetarian cooking to practicing mindfulness, Dr. Manish Bhalodia tries lifestyle changes that he subsequently suggests to his patients. “I try it first, because if I can’t do it or it’s not effective, then it doesn’t make sense to tell my patients about it.”

It’s a hands-on approach that Dr. Bhalodia finds helpful in inspiring change. “Lifestyle goes hand in hand with cardiology,” he says. “Healthy habits can reduce the need for more invasive and/or expensive treatments.”

Dr. Bhalodia treats such issues as congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, valvular heart disease, heart attack, coronary artery disease and syncope (fainting). Patients enjoy the comfortable atmosphere and the nonintimidating conversations he creates. He wants patients to be able to talk frankly about their concerns. “Sometimes that includes stresses in their lives that may be impacting their health,” he says.

He joined Vanguard to be part of a groundbreaking movement in value-based care. “I feel there is a lot to be gained by the synergy between a cardiologist and primary care physicians,” he notes. “Ultimately, it benefits the patient to have well-coordinated care.”

Helping others has been a focus of Dr. Bhalodia’s since he was in middle school, when he first envisioned his future career. The idea of alleviating human suffering was quite powerful to him, even at that young age. Due to his strong conviction about access to quality health care, he chose to forgo joining his father’s thriving accounting practice in favor of becoming a physician.

“During residency, cardiology was one of the toughest branches to understand and get selected for a fellowship,” he says. “To me, it was the most satisfying and gratifying feeling to be able to make a meaningful difference in a person’s quality of life. You can help save somebody from the brink of a catastrophic situation.”

When he is not working, Dr. Bhalodia enjoys reading, practicing yoga, and playing tennis, table tennis and cricket. He also enjoys traveling and exploring different cultures with his wife and twin sons.

Palwasha Fazli Daftani, MD

Dr. Daftani Takes a Whole-Patient, Preventive Approach to Primary Care

“As a family physician, I want to educate my patients, to help them improve their health and quality of life.”

Dr. Palwasha Daftani always had a love for art as a child, and imagined herself going into fashion design. She declined a spot at a prestigious fashion design high school in the city to attend high school in Queens. That pivotal move put her on a much different trajectory, one that included a medical education program in her senior year of high school. It was there that she discovered her talent for math and science, and her excitement about a career in medicine. She views medicine as a scientific study and its practice as a form of art.

“We got to explore different health professions, and we took trips to local colleges and once to a research lab,” she said. “They taught us scientific techniques and offered fun opportunities to explore and learn about health care careers and how to prepare an educational path to pursue them.I hadn’t had any female role models growing up who were physicians and so I never thought about it. But once I learned more, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I could already imagine myself doing it.”

She got a jump on college classes during her senior year of high school, and went on to earn her biology degree, a medical degree, and a master’s degree in health services administration. She chose family medicine as her specialty because of its comprehensive focus and opportunity for continuity of care.

“In family medicine, we take on a role not just of examining the disease of a patient, but we also explore his or her social and emotional factors,” she said. “It’s a biopsychosocial approach to medicine, and it’s very important in treating patients as a whole.” Dr. Daftani prides herself on being a good listener. “I let my patients talk,” she said. “It’s very rewarding. It also helps to make a better diagnosis when you listen to the full details of their stories.”

The whole-patient focus was one of the aspects that attracted Dr. Daftani to Vanguard Medical Group. “Everyone here works as an advocate for the patient,” she said. “There is also an emphasis on preventive care, which is so important in overall health.”

When she’s not working, Dr. Daftani enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. She is an avid reader and also enjoys exercising and traveling.

Howard Wilson, MD

Personal, Individualized Care Is Dr. Wilson’s Hallmark

“My patients can talk to me about anything—even things that they can’t talk to their spouse or family about.”

It’s not uncommon for Dr. Wilson to treat three generations in the same family. As a family medicine physician, he offers primary care for all ages. Importantly, he works hard to earn his patients’ trust, and as a result, they often refer their family members—grandparents, parents, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.

“When you’re treating generations of the same family, it’s not just taking a family history,” said Dr. Wilson. “You know the medical issues firsthand, and can focus on the right preventive measures.”

A lifelong learner, Dr. Wilson brings a diverse background to his practice—including degrees in philosophy and biochemistry. His father was a veterinarian, and ultimately inspired Dr. Wilson to pursue a medical degree. Applying to medical school during the mandatory draft for the Vietnam War, he faced unusually high competition for slots—and ultimately decided to study overseas. The experience bolstered his Spanish and French language skills, and gave him a global view on medicine. Internships and residencies back in the States provided the U.S. perspective.

After years of building a successful solo practice, Dr. Wilson joined Vanguard Medical Group. “I want to be able to spend time with my patients,” he said. “With Vanguard, I’ll have the infrastructure in place to handle the administrative tasks so that I can focus on patient care. My patients will also enjoy the services that Vanguard provides, such as an on-site lab for bloodwork.”

Dr. Wilson is known for his personalized approach to patient care and also his focus on preventive care. “I do a lot with integrative medicine, including nutrition and lifestyle counseling,” he said. “I also work with information technology in medicine. It’s a great interest of mine, and a focus at Vanguard.”

When he’s not working, Dr. Wilson enjoys traveling, reading, and music.

Dr. Elaine Douglas, MD

Dr. Douglas Continues a Family Legacy in Primary Care

“When I see patients or their family members years later, and they tell me how I made a difference, it makes it all worthwhile.”

From pediatrics to geriatrics, and everything in between, Dr. Elaine Douglas has done it all. As a solo practitioner for many years before joining Vanguard, she handled all aspects of family medicine—following in the groundbreaking footsteps of her very talented father.

Dr. Fred Douglas, MD, was a charter fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the first African American to become a full attending physician at Mountainside Hospital, now Mountainside Medical Center. Elaine’s mother, Daisy Douglas, was one of the first black teachers hired at Montclair Public Schools, and inspired Elaine’s first career. Elaine earned a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in education.

“In 1978, I was visiting my father in the hospital with a childhood friend after my father’s cardiac bypass surgery,” Elaine said. “My friend asked Dad if he was ready to retire. The way he spoke about medicine, with that twinkle in his eye, showed that he truly loved it. That’s when I decided to go back to school, because I knew I would love it, too.”

Elaine was able to complete her training in time to work alongside her father for several years before he retired. She continued in a solo practice before joining Vanguard. She was ready to share the administrative responsibilities of her practice so that she could spend more time with her patients.

“We share the same philosophy of patient care,” she said, speaking of the move to Vanguard. “We are family doctors who are empathetic, knowledgeable, and available. My patients have my full attention; they’re not rushed. It’s a very personalized approach. I get to know them so that I can provide the best possible care. Patients get called back in a timely manner so they can get their questions answered, and take action if needed.”

Dr. Elaine Douglas couldn’t be happier practicing medicine. She works with both adults and adolescents. “I really love what I do,” she said. “If I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d still come to work, because I enjoy it that much.”

When she’s not working, Dr. Douglas enjoys spending time with family and going to the gym. Once she is relieved of the administrative hassles of medicine, she looks forward to playing the flute again, reading for pleasure, and doing needlepoint. She also is going to become more involved with the Howard University Alumni Club of New Jersey’s Fred and Daisy Douglas Scholarship Fund, named in her parents’ memory.

Sung Tae Kim, MD

Dr. Sung Tae Kim Values Time with Patients

“A lot of times, patients can have anxiety when meeting a new provider. I try to make it easier by getting to know them. I give them the opportunity to talk, and I listen. Then, I can truly understand their concerns, and provide the comprehensive care that will keep them healthy.”

Dr. Kim is motivated by many things, but one in particular surfaces often in conversation—and that’s service to others. It’s why he’s made it a point to join medical missions traveling to some of the world’s underserved areas, from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to Tecate, Mexico; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; and Penang, Malaysia. He found that medicine provides him with the chance to make a real difference. “To be in a place where you can help others is a tremendous blessing,” he says.

He chose family medicine because he wanted to be involved in community care. At the heart of his practice are his patient relationships. Dr. Kim places tremendous value on building on those relationships and truly understanding his patients physically, psychologically and socially. “I value the time that I spend with my patients,” he says. “They can talk about private matters that they may not even discuss with their spouses. When you have that deep understanding, it makes a difference in the care that you can provide.”

Dr. Kim works with his patients for a mutual understanding of what’s important to do to maintain good health. “I can’t expect patients to change 10 different things in one visit, but I can start them in the right direction for preventive care,” he says.

He chose Vanguard Medical Group because of its patient-first, personalized approach that mirrored his own approach to healthcare. “Vanguard Medical Group provides a platform where I’m able to use up-to-date medical knowledge and today’s technology in caring for patients. Importantly, the process is dynamic, and can conform to patients’ needs. The patient always comes first.”

When he’s not working, Dr. Kim enjoys traveling, hiking, playing golf and spending time with family. From time to time, he also assists his father with the family’s agricultural business.