Make Pain a Thing of the Past – patient care – Physician Partners of America

Tag Archive for: patient care


Our employees are all patient care champions, but some go the extra mile and we want to give them the recognition they deserve. They embody the PPOA values known as S.I.T.E. – Safety, Integrity, Teamwork, Empathy – which informs our service to patients and the community through high quality health care. 

Evidelsy “Evi” Vazquez gets excited talking about insurance. Who does that? you might ask. Talk to her for a few minutes and you’ll understand why.

Vazquez is an authorization and verification specialist team lead, the one who tells patients what their insurance covers. She also leads the 18-member team responsible for clinics, procedure suites and ambulatory surgery centers. Her department’s goals are to deliver authorizations to the clinics, allowing physicians to perform needed procedures helping patients get out of pain.

“I love knowing what we can do to help someone,” she says. “We’re up against insurance companies. If they don’t want to pay, you’re limited. But an insurance verification and authorization specialist finds out why they don’t want to pay and finds out what can be done to get that claim paid. Knowing I can help really makes me keep pushing.”

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y. who moved to Bethlehem, Penn. at age 11, Vazquez has an innate desire to help others and was always drawn to healthcare. She earned her Certified Medical Assistant certificate at Star Technical Institute in Allentown, Penn., then began work at nearby Lehigh Valley Hospital.

The physician residents who staffed the facility had an all-hands-on-deck mentality that allowed medical assistants to learn a variety of tasks. “They let us do a lot of hands-on work because they were learning, too,” she says. “I worked the front desk doing insurance. I took out sutures. I assisted with injections. I scheduled patients. I loved being so involved,” she says, adding that she enjoyed working in the hospital’s pain clinic.

That experience helped her find her niche. Evidelsy Vazquez moved to St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Penn., and became a financial counselor. She loved helping patients understand changes in insurance plans, and getting referrals and authorizations.

“I Realized How Important Insurance Is”

From there, Vazquez moved to Florida and helped start up the verification team at the now-defunct Laser Spine Institute. After ten years of growing that part of the organization, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her work had taken a personal turn.

Out of work for 18 months, the company could not hold her job and the insurance coverage that came with it. She got by through grants, help from her family, and sacrifice. “I was self-pay for everything,” she recalls. “I tried to apply for grants, used pharmacy discounts, got fewer pills and stretched them out until someone could give me money,” she said. “I realized how important insurance is.”

As she got back on her feet, she she decided to start job-hunting. She found PPOA through am amazing coincidence.

“On the day I learned I was in remission, I was sitting in the waiting room at Florida Cancer Center and saw a commercial for Dr. James St. Louis,” she recalls. Dr. St. Louis had recently come from Laser Spine Institute to PPOA to head its laser spine division. Vazquez had enjoyed working with him at LSI and immediately applied to PPOA “for any job I could.”

Putting Patients First

Vazquez says she enjoys the patients-first environment at PPOA, and the unique challenges she handles every day: winter visitors with out-of-state insurance, the different specialties she works with, and trying to help people get insured for procedures.

“A lot of it is making sure our documentations meet the insurance requirements so they could cover what a patient can or can’t do physically. That can make all the difference,” she says. “So I work closely with the clinics.”

Her manager, Christopher Ripoli, enthusiastically nominated her as a PPOA Patient Care Champion.

“Evi’s leadership capabilities, caring not just for patients but for her coworkers and team members, demonstrates her exceptional understanding and qualities that are an asset to the department, as well as to PPOA’s mission and values,” he says.

In addition to helping others at work, Vazquez is a giver in her personal life. She is the wife of a pastor, the Rev. Miguel Marquez of Church of God Ebenezer in Tampa. They have a blended family of four daughters and a son.

Evidelsy Vazquez has founded her own ministry, Abby’s Heart Mission Ministries, inspired by her own late mother’s personal mission trips to the Dominican Republic. Vazquez and her ministry have helped feed and clothe hundreds in the impoverished Caribbean island for the past four years. The ministry also has delivered kids’ school backpacks and blankets to the homeless in Tampa.


Did you know that PPOA offers FREE online insurance verification? Click here for details.







Our employees are all patient care champions, but some go the extra mile and we want to give them the recognition they deserve. They embody the PPOA values known as S.I.T.E. – Safety, Integrity, Teamwork, Empathy – which informs our service to patients and the community through high quality health care. 

Noemy Salinas is the practice manager of the PPOA Hurst, Texas location. With about 80 patients walking through its doors every day, it is the busiest pain clinic in the company’s Dallas-Fort Worth service area; but she handles it with grace and compassion and gratitude.

“I love being able to help. Talking to patients – some of them have no family and no one to talk to,” she says. “They catch me up on what they’ve been up to. So it becomes kind of like a friendship.”

Born in South Carolina and raised in Fort Worth, Salinas earned her Certified Medical Assistant certificate from Everest College. Very recently, she wrapped up eight years in the U.S. Army Reserves.

She was among the first wave of PPOA hires, in March 2014, starting as a medical assistant, then promoted to clinical coordinator – the precursor of today’s practice manager position.

“Noemy is very engaged in supporting her providers and support team,” says her regional supervisor, Rhonda Boysen. “Her team leads in many of PPOA’s initiatives in Texas. She has the respect of her teammates and they have wonderful collaboration amongst the group.”

One reason for that closeness is that several of her co-workers have been at Hurst since the beginning.

“We’re like a family,” says Salinas. “A family that has grown.”

As for her own family, she and her husband, Ryan, have two daughters: Genesis, 6, and Sophia, 4. Family is paramount in her life, and she sees her role as a fulfillment of her parents’ dreams.

“My parents are from Mexico and didn’t have the resources to pursue studies. My mom really wanted to be a nurse. She’d talk about it with great excitement – how cool it would be. She was so excited about it that it got me excited about it,” Salinas says.

While the pace can be hectic, Noemy Salinas never forgets why she is there. “Seeing the transformation of patients is amazing. Some people come to us and can barely walk. Over time, you see them come in and they can stand up straight and walk,” she says. “Seeing that gives you a purpose.”


Our employees are all patient care champions, but some go the extra mile and we want to give them the recognition they deserve. They embody the PPOA values known as S.I.T.E. – Safety, Integrity, Teamwork, Empathy – which informs our service to patients and the community through high quality health care. 

As a physician’s assistant in PPOA’s busiest Florida pain clinic  Habana Avenue-Tampa  Eric Shelton, PA-C is known for his medical acumen and kindness to patients. Both are qualities he honed at a young age. He was only two when he was diagnosed with type I diabetes – and spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices.

“As I got older, I was able to recognize what a pleasant office visit was versus being passed through like a number,” he says. “Having such an experience helped me to see healthcare from a patient’s point of view. I developed the desire to help others within the healthcare field.”

A native of Johnson City, Tenn., he and his family moved to Lakeland, Fla. when Shelton was seven. After graduating from George Jenkins High School and Polk State College, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

After working as a biomedical engineering tech for a medical device company, he realized his calling was patient care – the type he had received. But he faced an obstacle getting into PA school:

“The requirements were very stringent. They wanted 1,000 to 2,000 hours of direct patient care just to apply. My wife, Beatriz, picked up a second job so I could work as a medical assistant for free,” he recalls. “I worked 10-hour days nonstop, weekends included, with no pay. My wife picked up that full responsibility, which was very challenging.”

Eventually, Eric Shelton earned a Masters in Physician’s Assistant Studies at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. He came to PPOA in April 2017 after working in orthopedics and neurosurgery. “I was taught to do several procedures that we do here and got to do them myself, so I have knowledge of what the process is before and after and what the expectations are,” he says.

“He has really taken his time to learn the company and to share his wealth of knowledge with other staff members, including myself, in order to make PPOA-Habana a ‘Clinic of Excellence,'” says regional supervisor Mary McKay.

If his experience as a patient and on-the-job training formed the foundation of his care philosophy, his education gave it focus.

“My medical training in PA school was Jesuit. They taught us to treat patients with a holistic approach. So you take all things into consideration,” he says. “You don’t go in closed-minded. You listen, you pay attention and you begin to put a treatment plan together.”

That dedication to patient care shines through, with patients giving him high marks on reputation and social media sites.

“I have personally seen the patients come to check out all smiles and raving about his bedside manner, how he always listens to their concerns and how they really feel cared for after a visit with him,” says McKay.

“Sometimes the longest part of the visit is just sitting and listening and hearing someone,” says Shelton. “But you gain so much information from just being attentive. The treatment plan just becomes more simplified. You give them time and attention, which sometimes they have not been able to receive. The heavier demands in the medical field continue to reduce the amount of time that providers have with their patients but it’s one of the key components that allow you to have a well-developed, well thought-out treatment plan.”

Beatriz Shelton is now completing her last semester in nursing school, and their son, Elijah, is about to turn three. With his career in interventional pain management in full swing, Eric Shelton plans to continue helping patients lead a pain-free life.

“I never want to stop learning,” he says. “The more I can learn, the better a provider I become.”



Our employees are all patient care champions, but some go the extra mile and we want to give them the recognition they deserve. They embody the PPOA values known as S.I.T.E. – Safety, Integrity, Teamwork, Empathy – which informs our service to patients and the community through high quality health care.

Eric Alvarez is the regional clinical supervisor for PPOA’s Florida division. He oversees staff and practice managers in far-flung areas throughout the state – including Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Winter Haven. He also has an oversight role in the company’s rehabilitation division, which handles the pain management needs of patients in skilled nursing facilities.

His mail box remains full; his phone never stops ringing. Still, he always makes time for anyone who needs his immediate attention. Polite and unflappable, he makes the job look easy.

“I enjoy solving problems and looking for ways to improve patient care,” says Alvarez, a Tampa native. “I look at all the facts, look at the situation and find a solution that’s the best fit.”

Perhaps his background also has something to do with it: He learned combat lifesaving skills while serving in the U.S. Army’s Airborne Infantry division, and experience that ignited a passion for medicine. Alvarez earned his Associate Degree in Emergency Medicine from Orlando Medical Institute.

He is a certified EMT, paramedic and x-ray technician, as well as a certified medical assistant (CMT) and certified CPR-BLS trainer. Still, it is his interpersonal skills that people notice first.

Not long ago, he was visiting the Winter Haven clinic and helped a senior female patient change her tire – in 90 degree heat.

Josh Helms, CEO of Physician Partners of America, sums it up this way: “Eric is a servant leader who is always willing to roll up his sleeves and help the team. He leads by example and always puts the patient first.”

Says Alvarez, the father of two daughters, “I love helping people. It’s been my passion since forever. Excellent patient care is what keeps us going and I make it priority in everything I do.”




Our employees are all patient care champions, but some go the extra mile and we want to give them the recognition they deserve. They embody the PPOA values known as S.I.T.E. – Safety, Integrity, Teamwork, Empathy – which informs our service to patients and the community through high quality health care.

Susan Hoskins is far more than a business development manager; she also develops talent within the company and nurtures relationships with patients.

On any given day, you’ll find her marketing our physicians, Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury services, and ambulatory surgery centers. You’ll even see her handing out business cards to patients, offering herself as a direct line of communication if needed.

“The most fulfilling aspect of my life is being a servant,” she says. “A servant to my team, my family, our practices and our patients.”

This mother of five and grandmother of five works tirelessly to market PPOA throughout the Merritt Island and Melbourne, Fla. markets, and beyond.

A native of Miami, she earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida and stayed in the area, working in business development for several medical companies. She was hired by PPOA in April 2017 to develop the Space Coast territory and quickly became a top marketer.

“I love change, and this job has offered many opportunities to change things up. The sky’s the limit,” Hoskins says.

A tragic and unexpected change – the sudden passing of Business Development Director Jerome Jackson in July – recently altered her path. Susan Hoskins found herself promoted to team lead, developing new territories and providing support for all Florida reps.

“An ordinary team would have crumbled, but Jerome left a legacy for us to follow,” she says. “He was a great leader. He taught us to be independent and yet rely on one another, and that’s what we have done. Our team has pulled together and is truly amazing.”

Hoskins credits her counterpart in Texas, Daniel Ucheoma, and the rest of the Business Development team for their drive and passion for excellence.

“I have never worked with such a unique group of individuals, people with such extraordinary talent,” she says. “They all bring so much to the table.”

COO Josh Helms adds, “Susan Hoskins is an asset to our organization and we feel very blessed to have her on our team. She leads by example and is a true Patient Champion.”






Our employees are all patient care champions, but some go the extra mile and we want to give them the recognition they deserve. They embody the PPOA values known as S.I.T.E. – Safety, Integrity, Teamwork, Empathy – which informs our service to patients and the community through high quality health care.


Enrique Covarrubias is the practice manager of our Frisco, TX pain management location. He is universally known for delivering compassionate care to patients and helping the office run smoothly.

“Enrique has been an integral part at our Frisco clinic team for the last four years,” said Dr. Prasad Lakshminarasimhiah, the physician Enrique works with. “During these years he has demonstrated commitment to the success of our clinic in many, many ways.”

“I went into the medical field because I love helping people,” says Enrique, a Los Angeles native.

His decision, however, is rooted in tragedy. He witnessed his best friend shot to death on the notoriously rough streets of South Central L.A. He moved to Texas shortly after that.

After graduating from high school in 2000, Enrique went on to earn his CMA and X-ray technician’s license. He worked as a laboratory manager for a large company for five years, earning his location a franchise of the year award in 2011 and a consistent no. 1 or 2 ranking out of 150 locations. “I’m pretty competitive,” he says.

That drive and a superior ability to solve problems caught the eye of PPOA in 2014. He began his career here just six months after Dr. Gari opened the first clinics in Texas. “Back then, we were called clinical coordinators,” he says.

“Enrique is always the first to respond on any and everything that is presented by the company. He always has a go-getter personality and is always willing to help a patient or the staff,” says Terica Cox, Regional Clinical Supervisor.

One recent example: a patient was waiting for a procedure, but the doctor was delayed. Instead of sending the patient home, Enrique tracked the doctor down at the surgery center and made sure the patient was taken care of right away.

“He goes the extra mile in every situation for the best possible outcome for our patients,” Dr. Prasad says. “He coordinates extremely well with other staff and departments with the ultimate goal of providing the best care for our patients, and at the same time making it very easy on them. We appreciate him for all the effort he makes to maintain a positive attitude even under challenging situations.”

PPOA COO Josh Helms agrees. “Enrique defines what good service and dedication look like at PPOA. We are blessed to have him on our team and appreciate his dedication and empathy toward the patients we serve.”

For his part, Enrique says he enjoys his coworkers and being part of a high-growth company like PPOA.

“My time here has been amazing,” he says. “There’s been a lot of growth and a lot of changes. It’s exciting to be a part of it.”