Sheila Mellody, MD DABFM

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.

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

Krystal A. Green, M.D.

“Good communication between a provider and a patient is the key to getting the best health outcomes.”

When Krystal Green became a primary care physician, she fulfilled a long-standing dream that began when she was just three years old. At the time, she was offering comfort to her mother on the stillbirth of Krystal’s younger brother. “I told her that I wanted to be a doctor so that people don’t lose their family members ever again.”

During the summer following college, she shadowed her childhood pediatrician, a female practitioner, who was among her mentors. She continued on to medical school, where she discovered family medicine during her rotations. “I originally was going to pursue OB/GYN,” said Krystal, “but I realized that in family medicine, I could do so much more, including pediatric and adults. It was the perfect specialty for me.”

She often goes above and beyond for her patients in an effort to listen and communicate, especially in the area of preventive care. “I let them lead the conversation and then offer medical and healthy lifestyle recommendations,” said Krystal. “I lay out the options, risks, and benefits and ask, ‘What do you think about this one or that one?’ They seem to really appreciate that.”

“The job is living up to my initial childhood dream,” she said. “There are days when I feel so fulfilled. I know that I’ve really made a difference.”

When she’s not working, Krystal enjoys reading, writing, and exploring new places with her husband and family.

Margaret A. Kelly, PA-C

Physician Assistant Prioritizes Patient Relationships in Family Medicine

“Taking the time to listen and creating a dialogue with my patients helps me deliver care that’s uniquely suited to their needs. ”

As the oldest of four, Margaret Kelly grew up caring for her siblings. That was the inspiration for a career of helping others and making a difference. Margaret chose the competitive dual-degree physician assistant program at Seton Hall University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s degree as a physician assistant. Today, she’s putting those credentials to work at Vanguard.

“My patients have told me I’m a very good listener,” she said. “I also take the time to fully explain their treatment plans and the thought process behind them. My patients seem to truly appreciate that.”

At Vanguard, Margaret has had the chance to treat multiple generations of the same family. “One of my favorite aspects of family medicine is being able to see somebody’s kids and also their parents,” she said. “It means a lot when a patient recommends me to a family member. When you have that trust, it helps immensely with patients wanting to follow my recommendations. That makes a difference in the care that I’m able to provide.”

“Vanguard truly is just as its name implies — ahead of the curve,” she said. “Patients tell me all the time that they appreciate the patient-focused approach that we provide. I also appreciate the supportive team behind me that allows me to work independently but also to consult with them whenever needed.”

Originally from Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, Margaret is getting to know the Jersey shore and very much enjoying the beach in the summer. She also loves to ski in the winter. When she’s not working, she most enjoys spending time with friends and family.

Colleen Little, DO

Art and Science Combine for This Family Medicine Physician

“I give my patients detailed options for their health, and then empower them to take the lead.”

As a family physician and an artist, Dr. Colleen Little brings more than the usual range of talent to primary care medicine. Initially on the track for a career in art therapy, Colleen was drawn to family medicine while working in healthcare administration. In taking care of credentialing for doctors, she realized that primary care was a path she’d like to follow. Now her years of art training bring a detailed eye to dermatology procedures, and her studies in psychology bring additional insight into her patients’ perspective.

Colleen’s interest in dermatology is more than artistic. A bout of melanoma as a teenager made her passionate about educating others on prevention and early detection. She worked for the Colorado Melanoma Foundation and also did academic research for a pigmentation genetics project. She completed her dermatology fellowship to bring this additional expertise to her work in family medicine.

She also is working toward a certification in integrative medicine, which blends physical, mental and social well-being with conventional medical treatment. In integrative medicine, patients and practitioners are partners in the healing process.

“I take a holistic approach to health,” said Colleen. “I like to offer all of the options to patients and discuss them in detail. Patients tell me that I explain things very well, in a way they can understand, and that I empower them to take the lead with their health.

“If someone has diabetes, and they’re diagnosed for the first time, I’ll give them a chance to try lifestyle changes before we start medication. I’ll do the same thing for patients with high cholesterol before I prescribe a statin. There are so many gray areas in medicine, where lifestyle changes could be just as beneficial as pharmacologic treatment.”

When she’s not working, Colleen enjoys art, including pottery and watercolors. (See a sample of her artwork in this bio.) She also likes to hike and bike with her boyfriend, and enjoys baking.

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.

Wistreich, Sarah, DO

Dr. Sarah Wistreich Asks the Pivotal Questions to Help Patients on Their Journey to Health

“When you have a personal relationship with your patient, you are most able to give that patient effective preventive care.”

Dr. Sarah Wistreich was just 12 years old when she realized her life’s calling to become a doctor. She was inspired by the medical team that saved the life of her younger brother. “Watching the physicians who took care of him as a team really stood out to me,” she says. “It had a big impact on my personal decision.”

She chose family care so that she could treat the full range of ailments. She also enjoys a focus on women’s health. In both cases, Dr. Wistreich works to form meaningful relationships with her patients. “Continuity of care is so important,” she says. “When you know the person, you’re able to meet his or her needs more completely.”

Importantly, Dr. Wistreich asks the pivotal questions. “Are you up to date on your PAP smear? What are you using for birth control? Let’s talk about your weight. What’s going on at home? What is your stress level like?” She emphasizes preventive care, saying to patients, “Let’s talk about taking care of you when you’re well.” Patients enjoy the fact that Dr. Wistreich takes the time to actively listen and understand their concerns. Many women tell her that they enjoy seeing a female physician who can provide PAP smears, breast exams, birth control management, endometrial biopsies and other women’s health services.

Dr. Wistreich chose Vanguard because of its unique approach. “I like that Vanguard really puts the patient first,” she says. “It’s rare that you have a physician group that is owned by its own physicians and not a hospital or network. It’s still a business, but it’s one where the physicians care for the patients first and foremost.”

When she’s not working, Dr. Wistreich enjoys cooking nutritious meals. “Nutrition has become a passion of mine, not only with my patients, but with my family.”

Stern, Alyse, PA-C

Alyse Stern Believes Treating Entire Families Helps Treat Each Individual

“Treating entire families is a special opportunity where you see the whole rather than only part of the picture.”

Alyse Stern started her career in a genetic testing lab, but was not totally fulfilled. “Although the experience was invaluable, I recognized early on that I needed to connect with people, and family medicine would allow me to work directly with patients,” says Alyse. “I wanted to care for whole families. I recognized that individual family members could provide insight and history that would greatly enhance patient and health care provider relationships, and result in improved quality care.”

For over a decade, Alyse has been enjoying the continuity of care and trust that develops between individuals and family members, and their health care providers. She finds it rewarding when her patients refer friends and other family members. “My patients inspire me every day, and for me it’s the icing on the cake when someone comes into the office and asks for me,” she says.

Alyse joined Vanguard in 2004 as a physician assistant and, under the guidance of a medical doctor, provides a variety of services to patients, including annual physicals, wellness checkups, diagnoses, medication management, blood pressure screenings, inoculations and vaccinations.

She’s also a certified Department of Transportation medical examiner, one of the few in New Jersey. This allows her to conduct the detailed physicals required for bus and truck drivers with commercial drivers’ licenses.

When she’s off the clock, Alyse is a busy mom who enjoys cooking, baking and spending time with family and friends.

Smith, Stephanie, MD

Patients Inspire Dr. Smith Every Day

“The best care evolves from trusting relationships built over time.”

Dr. Stephanie Smith chose family medicine because it was “the package deal,” where she had the chance to do it all. “In medical school, we have the opportunity to rotate through each specialty area to see which we like best,” she explains. “I enjoyed every aspect of every rotation, from pediatrics to surgery to OB/GYN.”

Now at Vanguard, she’s developing the trusting relationships with her patients that are the foundation of great medical care. “Perhaps because I’m a woman, I see a lot of female patients,” she notes. “They tell me that they feel more comfortable talking to me about female problems. I really enjoy helping my patients, getting them through crises and making sure they’re doing all they can to stay healthy. It’s what motivates me to come to work every day.”

With a master’s degree in public health, Dr. Smith maintains a strong focus on preventive care and wellness. “Sometimes you’ll be able to prevent something before it becomes a bigger issue,” she says. “A great example is a mammogram. If we can screen more women, we can help catch cancer at its earliest stages.”

Dr. Smith was an All-American athlete growing up, and played soccer while at Columbia. When she’s not working, she enjoys introducing her young children to sports and spending time with her husband and family.

Salerno, Adrienne, MD

Surgery and Women’s Health Are Focuses for Dr. Adrienne Salerno

“Family medicine is about making a difference in people’s lives every single day.”

Dr. Adrienne Salerno has always wanted to be a doctor. “I can’t remember a time when I wanted to be anything else,” she says. “I enjoy helping people.”

She started out her career in surgery, but found that she wanted more of a continuous, long-term relationship with her patients. Family medicine provided that connection. At Vanguard, Dr. Salerno enjoys the diversity of being able to treat everyone, from newborns to geriatrics. Often, her patients include various members of the same family.

“When I’m able to treat the whole family, it gives me the full perspective of understanding for the patients,” she says. “It’s easier to see the bigger picture, and that helps me make better decisions.” Toward that end, Dr. Salerno also makes it a point to follow her patients from office visits to hospitals or rehab, as needed. “You can see the difference in care delivered by someone who doesn’t know the patient as well,” she says. “It allows us to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks with these transitions.”

Dr. Salerno also uses her surgical background when minor cosmetic dermatologic procedures are needed, from cyst removal and abscess drainage to complex laceration repair. “I also perform ear lobe laceration repair,” she notes. “That’s pretty unique for most primary care offices, but we’re able to offer it right in the office.”

Dr. Salerno is on the Women’s Health Committee at Vanguard, to help improve services for female patients. These may include IUD placements, options for birth control and other procedures. The goal is also to expand education on women’s health topics.

When not working, Dr. Salerno enjoys doing CrossFit. She also likes to cook and spend time with her husband and children.