Mravcak, Sally, MD

Dr. Sally Mravcak Focuses on Family, Lifestyle and Relationships for Wellness and Prevention

“You’re not just looking at disease, but at family and social interactions and lifestyle. We ask the pivotal questions. Who’s cooking at home? How is the stress level? How much exercise are you getting? Do you have social relationships? All of these contribute to a patient’s well-being.”

When your mother is a registered nurse, you get an early glimpse into what it’s like to help others. That’s what happened with Dr. Sally Mravcak. “Growing up, we always had people in the neighborhood coming to the house, asking for my mom’s help or advice,” she says. “That was my inspiration for going into health care.

She chose family medicine because she enjoyed every rotation during medical training, from pediatrics to women’s health to geriatrics. “I didn’t want to give any of it up,” she says. “I like being able to treat an entire family, from the children to their parents, grandparents and great grandparents.”

Dr. Mravcak began her career working in a federally qualified health center, spending eight years caring for uninsured and underinsured people in New Jersey. “I like to advocate for my patients,” she says. “Every patient deserves excellent care offered with dignity and respect.” Prior to joining Vanguard, Dr. Mravcak also practiced full time in a women’s health center, providing comprehensive primary care, office gynecology and acupuncture. In addition to family medicine, she is board-certified in integrative medicine and medical acupuncture, and believes in evidence-based, whole-person care that takes into account the role of body, mind and science in creating wellness. She offers medical acupuncture in the Jersey City office of Vanguard. These treatments may be done alone or in concert with traditional medical practices to prevent and treat medical problems and promote emotional and physical wellness.

“Vanguard is always on the cutting edge of family medicine, as our name suggests,” notes Dr. Mravcak. “We’re pushing the ball forward in medicine, and in technology, as far as it can go. We’re also very open and accepting of patients of all backgrounds. We see patients of all ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities, and they each feel comfortable here.”

When she’s not in the office in Jersey City, you might find Dr. Mravcak on a biking trail, taking in some live music or spending the day at the beach with her spouse and two daughters.

Moscato, Michele, DO

Dr. Michele Moscato Puts Patients at Ease with Conversation

“If you can’t talk to your doctor about something that is on your mind, there is a good possibility that something will be overlooked and missed.”

Dr. Michele Moscato wanted a career in the health care field from the time she was very young. “I can remember talking about being a doctor as a child,” says Dr. Moscato. “I had a strong interest in biological sciences and I had support, especially from one of my high school teachers who mentored and encouraged me to see my goal and go for it.”

Family medicine was the specialty area that was the draw for her, which can be partly attributed to a personal event. According to Dr. Moscato, “When a member of my family developed dementia, I saw firsthand the overwhelming challenges my family experienced trying to deal with the treatment and care of our loved one, which was new to all of us. We were initially lost in the woods.” She decided to take from that experience and put herself in a position armed with knowledge so she could offer her patients counsel and direction that would make their health care journey a little easier.

Dr. Moscato completed her residency at Hackensack University Medical Center-Mountainside (now Mountainside/UHMC Hospital) in family medicine. After her residency, she was asked to join the hospital as a faculty physician and assistant director in women’s health. “Women’s health was and remains an interest of mine, but I also like variety, and family medicine allows me to treat all ages and all genders,” she says. “At Vanguard Medical Group, I get the opportunity to do that every day.”

Vanguard is a patient-centered medical home where the patient comes first and the staff takes a team-based approach to provide quality health care. Dr. Moscato notes that one of the most important actions that she takes during every visit is to listen to, and talk with, her patients. Communication is crucial. “Taking that extra time to talk with my patients puts them at ease so they are more apt to open up and share their questions or concerns, and oftentimes the things discussed offer clues to their health,” she says.

In her spare time, Dr. Moscato enjoys traveling with her husband, especially locally to neighboring states. She is an animal lover and finds time to volunteer with animal adoption agencies.

Kothari, Lara, PA-C

Lara Kothari Values Offering Small Steps to Better Health

“Being part of a patient-centered health care team that includes physicians and physician assistants gives our patients options and flexibility. It also gives our care team depth and breadth.”

Lara Kothari credits her nurturing personality – and all the “medical talk” by the physicians in her family while growing up – for her decision to become a physician assistant in a family medicine practice. She also loved science and people, so it seemed a natural fit.

Family medicine was Lara’s first choice, because she got to work in all the areas every day: OB/GYN, babies and children, women’s and men’s health, and geriatrics. She enjoys seeing the children she once treated now going off to college, and treating them when they come back home.

“It’s wonderful to see continuity of care work at its best,” says Lara, who notes the importance of patient-provider relationships. “You don’t get that in an ER or hospital setting. But as a primary physician, you often get to know the whole family and you develop those relationships that increase comfort levels in sharing important information that can improve patient outcomes.”

She often hears from patients that Vanguard is comprehensive and well organized. “A lot of patients like the patient portal,” she says, “because it gives them 24/7 access. They also like the fact that Vanguard has all the services under one roof, from X-ray to nutrition to behavioral health and home care.”

With Vanguard Medical Group since 1999, Lara can’t imagine being anywhere else. “Selfishly, it completes me,” she says. “I enjoy it. I like making a difference and helping people in whatever small way that I can. It’s part of who I am.”

When she’s not working, Lara enjoys exercising and socializing with friends and family.

Bottiglierie, Christina, PA-C

Christina Bottiglierie Advocates for Her Patients

“When patients are educated about their health, it becomes a two-way street where they are actively involved in the decision process. The result is better care.”

Christina Bottiglierie has the distinct memory of folding laundry with her father and telling him of her future career choice. “I want to go into medicine,” 5-year-old Christina said. But it wasn’t until college that she found the perfect fit, becoming a physician assistant.

Now she’s not only a seasoned physician assistant at Vanguard but also a role model for future PAs. Students from the Robert Wood Johnson Rutgers program in Piscataway and Kean University train under her as part of their course work. She also precepts “pre-PAs” – students in high school and college who are considering physician assistance as a future career.

Christina enjoys the variety in a family medicine practice, from pediatrics to women’s health to chronic care and more. She prides herself on being an advocate as well as an educator for her patients. “When I work with children who have special needs, I’ll counsel the parent on how to approach the school district, the questions to ask and what the school should provide,” she says. “When my patients are employees of the state or county, I educate them about the NJWELL program, where they can get money back for getting physicals. Certain insurances will give you free bike helmets for kids. I spend the time and talk to my patients, and make sure that they understand how they can play a role in their health.”

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 not working, Christina is involved in running groups and does Spartan races with her kids. “You have time for what you want to make time for,” she says. “That’s what I always tell my patients.”

Becker, Julie, PA-C

Julie Becker Makes a Difference in Patients’ Lives 

“Encouraging patients to keep abreast of their health care plan is a crucial part of preventive family medicine today.”

Julie Becker’s desire to have a career in health care was influenced by her grandmother, who was a dentist as well as a mentor whom she shadowed while she was in college. “For me, I had positive role models who were in medical professions, and it was during high school that I decided to pursue a career in health care,” says Julie. “When I was in school, a physician assistant was a new medical career option, but I liked the idea that it would offer me the opportunity to examine, diagnose and treat patients under the guidance of a medical doctor.”

As a physician assistant, Julie is passionate about preventive and wellness care. “Prevention is the key to health care today,” she says. “During every visit, after reviewing my patients’ charts, I encourage and remind them to keep on top of immunizations, screenings and annual physicals, including PAPs, mammograms, colonoscopies and other screenings, so that a baseline can be recorded. If an abnormality is indicated, it can be caught and treated early.”

Julie speaks fluent Russian and Hebrew. According to her, “Once in a while, I have an opportunity to speak with patients in their native language. This came in handy for me with one of my patients who was a centenarian and was a little confused about diabetes. Being able to explain her condition in her native language put her at ease.”

As a physician assistant, Julie provides a variety of services to patients, including annual physicals, wellness checkups, diagnoses, medication management, blood pressure screenings, inoculations and vaccinations.  

As the mother of four, Julie’s schedule is jam-packed keeping up with her children and their activities, but they also find time to enjoy Broadway shows and traveling.