Adoracion Chao, FNP-C

Telehealth nurse practitioner takes thorough approach to patient care

“You really want to be in-depth with your assessment in case a patient forgets to tell you something, because that will help you to identify any issues.”

Adora Chao knows the importance of connecting with her patients. This primary care family nurse practitioner once did an assessment for a deaf patient completely in American Sign Language. She’s spoken to patients in English, Tagalog, and some limited Spanish, too. “You want to be very thorough in everything you do,” she says, “and that means you need to effectively communicate.”

Passionate about helping her patients, Adora gets her inspiration from family. Her mother passed away from cervical cancer, inspiring Adora to pursue a career in nursing to help others. She became a Family Nurse Practitioner in order to do even more for her patients. Adora has worked in a variety of settings from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and telemetry units in the hospital to urgent care clinics and pediatrics. An early adopter of telehealth, Adora was also a virtual provider during the pandemic.

She joined the Vanguard eCare telemedicine team to continue this important work. “Telehealth is different from a regular inpatient visit,” says Adora. “It’s more complex because you’re not there to physically examine a patient, listen to their lungs, and so on. You depend upon a patient’s self-assessment but you also guide them, for example in palpitating their glands or pressing on their abdomen and asking them to describe how they feel. Before I talk with my patients, I also review their charts so I’m aware of their preexisting conditions and medications they are taking.”

Adora’s patients like that she’s thorough, and that she takes the time to educate them and help them find the resources they need. They also appreciate her sense of humor. “It’s all a matter of making them feel comfortable so that they can talk to you about their health concerns,” says Adora.

A lifelong learner, Adora is near completion of her second Master’s, as a Psychology and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She looks forward to integrating this new skill in helping her patients.

When she’s not busy working, Adora enjoys traveling, especially out of the country. She also likes to garden during warm weather. She is a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

Jill Magioncalda, FNP

Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Creates Virtual Connections via Telehealth

I want my patients to ask questions so they learn and understand their health needs.”

Jill Magioncalda knows the importance of understanding a medical diagnosis. Her son, now grown and healthy, was born with a birth defect and had three surgeries before he was a year old. “I wanted to empower myself with knowledge so I would know the questions to ask,” she said. That inspired her to become a nurse, and to pursue the advanced education and training of a family medicine nurse practitioner. Today, she helps patients at Vanguard via telehealth, also called telemedicine.

Jill began her career as a nursing instructor at ECPI University, inspiring the next generation of nurses. In that role, she worked to implement and coordinate efforts with the South Carolina State Board of Nursing to adopt the first LPN program for the university. At the same time, she volunteered and then worked at a free medical clinic, serving those in greatest need. Jill continued her career in a variety of medical settings. She has worked in long-term care and rehabilitation, in a Healthy House Calls program, in hospice, and was one of the pioneering practitioners in telemedicine.

When COVID-19 hit, Jill was on the front lines, offering her expertise at one of New Jersey’s mega sites. “I found again that people needed to understand what is going on, and needed good solid evidence-based medicine,” she said. She helped to educate those patients about COVID.

Jill joined Vanguard because of its patient-first focus and its robust telemedicine program. “When I wake up in the morning, I’m excited to go to work,” she said. “I get an opportunity to connect with my patients and form relationships from the very first encounter.” Patients like Jill’s easygoing manner and openness. She encourages them to ask questions and to take the helm of their own healthcare, partnering with her for healthy outcomes. She also works closely with the Vanguard team. “I really enjoy the collaboration,” she said.

When she’s not busy working, Jill enjoys helping with events for her town. She and her husband are active in planning Olde Freehold Day and Freehold’s Halloween Extravaganza.

Swetal Patel, PA-C

Primary Care PA Guides Patients Toward Better Health

“Primary care is the gatekeeper for healthy living.”

With a passion for science and a penchant for helping others, Physician Assistant Swetal Patel guides her patients to make the healthy choices that help them live their best lives.

It’s a lifelong pursuit inspired by her own childhood injury and a trip to the hospital. “The physician who took care of me was incredibly caring,” she says. “It made me want to pursue a career in healthcare so that I could do the same for others.” Swetal followed a science and math track, and ultimately found the physician assistant role in primary care to be a perfect fit.

Swetal brings diverse and extensive clinical experience to Vanguard, including work in a primary care practice as well as in outpatient and emergency settings. In the primary care setting, she is able to advocate for good nutrition, regular exercise, and staying ahead of potential disease through preventive screenings. “Armed with all of the information, patients can take control of their health,” she says.

Swetal values her relationships with her patients and is there for the long term. “I like to see the impact of our visits over time, such as the care plan that we follow and the lifestyle changes that the patient makes,” she says. Patients appreciate her thoroughness and like that she uses plain language when explaining medical terms. She ensures that they have the resources that they need to make healthy changes.

When she’s not working, Swetal enjoys nature photography and spending time in the great outdoors.

Sheila Mellody, MD

Family Physician Values Patient Relationships

“By counseling patients on good nutrition, healthy choices, and preventative care, we can help them live their best lives.”

Inspired by her patients and driven by her passion for helping others, Dr. Sheila Mellody brings a caring and compassionate approach to primary care at Vanguard Medical Group’s Farmingdale office. It’s a dream role for this family physician who values the relationships that she has made over the years.

“I chose family medicine for the one-on-one continuity of care,” she said. “Getting to know my patients, seeing their kids grow, and helping them on a journey toward good health is truly gratifying.”

Dr. Mellody began her career in Denver, Colorado, in a women’s health practice, and brings that experience and special interest to Vanguard. She also spent time working in primary care in Virginia Beach. She returned to her home state of New Jersey to be close to family.

Patients say they like Dr. Mellody’s ability to explain things clearly. “I’m very thorough and very organized,” she said. “I make sure that my patients fully understand any diagnoses or treatments so that we are able to work together toward optimum health.” She also emphasizes the importance of preventative care and healthy lifestyle choices. “Regular screenings, good nutrition, and healthy choices really do make a difference,” she said. “I often tell my patients that good nutrition is the backbone of any treatment.”

When she’s not working, Dr. Mellody enjoys running, camping, cooking, and spending time with her husband and children.

Joseph W. Schauer, III, MD

Family Physician Offers Personalized Healthcare

“Quality, cost-effective health care is a right, not a privilege.”

Whether he’s reassuring an anxious patient, offering clinical expertise on the latest treatment, or checking on a homebound senior, Dr. Joseph Schauer brings a warmth and compassion to primary care that come from over 35 years of learning and of advocating for his patients. He continues a legacy begun by his father and uncle, who paved the way for patient-centered care at the very same Farmingdale practice, once known as Schauer Family Medical Group.

Dr. Schauer’s own journey in medicine began in high school. He knew he wanted to help others, and he took a summer job as a hospital orderly, solidifying his career path. When it came time to choose a focus in medical school, he selected family medicine. “I liked the idea of taking care of generations of families,” he said, “and of treating the whole person—body, mind and soul. You can do that in primary care, whereas you cannot in subspecialties.”

He returned home to Monmouth County to practice family medicine with his father, Joseph Schauer Jr., MD and his uncle, Edward A. Schauer, MD. They have since retired, and Dr. Schauer remains at the helm, joining with like-minded independent physicians at Vanguard Medical Group.

“What distinguishes our practice is the personal touch, the willingness to sit down and explain things to our patients,” he said. “Our patients love that they can get that individualized attention along with high-tech diagnosis and treatment.”

Over the years, Dr. Schauer has received countless accolades from his patients. “The outcome is not always good, because people sometimes have diseases that unfortunately progress, but there is always an element of gratitude,” he noted. “We will receive notes from families saying thank you for taking care of Dad or Grandpa. Those are incredibly meaningful to us.”

Dr. Schauer’s influence reaches far beyond the Farmingdale location. He is a past president of the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians. He chaired the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Primary Care Initiative, working with a major New Jersey healthcare insurer to develop and implement primary care initiatives built around the PCMH concept in New Jersey.

When he’s not working, Dr. Schauer enjoys traveling with his wife, gardening, golfing and pursuing that ever-elusive hole-in-one.

Jessica Timmerman, FNP, APN

Nurse Practitioner Advocates for Her Patients

“Mental health plays an important role in physical health, and both have to work together for optimum health.”

With a background in psychology and expertise honed by years of working in trauma, emergency medicine and the ICU, Jessica Timmerman is well prepared for the breadth and depth of family medicine. “I get to do all the things I’m good at and feel a calling to do,” she said, “and at the same time form meaningful relationships with my patients as we work together toward better health.”

As a nurse practitioner, Jessica can diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, and prescribe medications. She is wound care certified and has a special interest in mental health and addiction. With her appreciation for the sciences and the connection between physical and mental health, she treats the full range of ailments and conditions in a family practice setting.

“Patients like that I listen,” she said. “I’m very good at physical assessments. In my first six years in urgent care, we only had access to minimal diagnostics. I learned how to pay attention to every detail.”

Jessica follows the science but also values holistic care, counseling patients on lifestyle changes that support good health. She helps them take charge of their health through preventive care. Jessica advocates for her patients and connects them with community resources for additional support as needed, from fighting cancer to battling drug addiction. “There’s a great sense of community in our practice, built upon generations of families whom we have served,” she said.

When she’s not working, Jessica enjoys the great outdoors, fishing with her husband and son, and trail riding on four-wheelers. Having once considered a career as a veterinarian, Jessica is the proud owner of a rescue dog and two cats.

Mandy Sacher, DO

Family Physician Partners with Patients on Their Health Journey

“Every single feature of someone’s life plays into their health. Understanding that is the first step on the journey with patients toward better health.”

It wasn’t just an academic interest in the inner workings of the human body and mind that led Dr. Mandy Sacher to family medicine. It was her passion for connecting with people and harnessing that connection to help them achieve optimal health. “People come to their family doctor to address their physical health. But that interaction allows for explorations of the other aspects of their life that are likely affecting their current health and the attainment of improved health. I love having the opportunity to work with my patients in that process.”

Dr. Sacher enjoys the variety and challenge of family medicine. “In a given day, I can see all members of a multigenerational family, from newborn to geriatric; perform in-office procedures; and have a routine gynecologic visit — all while addressing physical, emotional and psychosocial issues.” Patients appreciate her easygoing manner, her openness to different perspectives and her straightforward way of explaining medical concepts.

When she’s not working, Dr. Sacher enjoys spending time in nature with her family, traveling, reading and trying her best to stay in the moment.

“Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.” —Hippocrates

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.

Nadira Khan, PA-C

Physician Assistant Encourages Self-Care

“Good things happen when we take care of ourselves. We have to learn to prioritize ourselves and our health.

As the oldest of four girls, Nadira Khan was the natural caretaker for her sisters. From a young age, she knew that caring for others would factor into her career choice. She found the ideal role during a hospital volunteer experience while she was in high school. “That’s when I learned about physician assistants,” Nadira said. “I loved everything about the PA profession, from its schooling to its flexibility to its variety.” She chose family medicine because it offered the most varied experience. “It’s something new every single day, and I never tire of it,” she said.

Nadira’s patients appreciate her thoroughness and the time she spends with them. “I’m a very good listener, and I really take the time to understand my patients’ point of view. I want to know how they’re feeling and why they’re feeling that way. My goal is to have the kind of rapport where they can talk to me about anything.”

“I treat all my patients as if they were my family members,” added Nadira. “I want them to thrive no matter what challenges they may face.” That’s why she encourages them to practice self-care. Toward that end, she advocates preventive care, making sure patients are up to date on vaccinations and screenings, and following healthy lifestyles. “At the end of the day, we should learn to give ourselves compassion, time, and attention to focus on our own needs, desires and goals,” she said. “This way we can better support ourselves and our loved ones with a healthy rejuvenated mind/body.”

When she’s not working, Nadira likes to spend time with family and friends back in Brooklyn. She also enjoys working out and practicing her own self-care regimen.

Rachael Romer, PA-C

Physician Assistant Cultivates Provider-Patient Relationships

“I look at the whole person and not just the diagnosis in front of me.”

Rachael Romer grew up around medicine. As a child, she watched her grandmother go in and out of the hospital. She loved seeing how the providers made her grandmother feel and the relationships they formed with her. It was the inspiration for her career as a physician assistant in primary care.

She chose family medicine so she could treat a range of conditions and help patients over the long term. “Continuity of care is very important to me,” she said. “It’s not just one specific diagnosis but a chance to get to know your patients over time and help them stay healthy.”

Rachael’s patients say she is extremely outgoing and personable. She takes the time to get to know them. “If you get to know the person and not just the patient, you can better understand how to help them. You will understand their diets, their exercise routines, their stress levels, and the challenges they face in staying healthy.”

In addition to her role at Vanguard, Rachael is inspiring the next generation of physician assistants. She is an assistant professor of PA studies at her alma mater, Saint Elizabeth University.

When she’s not working, Rachael enjoys spending time with family and friends; playing tennis, softball, and golf; and walking her rescue dog, Emmett.