Lakeside Medical Center graduates Family Medicine residents

BELLE GLADE — Five physicians in Lakeside Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency Program are graduating in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, June 17, following three years of training that included a new medical condition, COVID-19. The teaching hospital is located in the heart of Palm Beach County’s rural, western communities, which is considered a hot spot for the virus.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Samuel Espinal, DO, Nergess Taheri, DO, Danny Abouekde, DO, Terry Parsons, DO, and David Lepoff, DO.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this class of residents,” said Darcy J. Davis, CEO of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. “You’ve been with us during the toughest times Lakeside Medical Center has faced and fought on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. I commend you for your courage, determination and dedication to the Glades community.

The five graduates, Danny Abouekde, DO, Samuel Espinal, DO, David Lepoff, DO and Chief Residents Nergess Taheri, DO and Terry Parsons, DO, completed a rigorous three-year curriculum. Their rotations included emergency medicine, women’s health care, pediatrics, psychiatry, general surgery, internal medicine, community and sports medicine, cardiology, dermatology, women’s health, radiology, orthopedics, ENT, urology, ophthalmology and critical care.

“These graduates represent the best in family medicine,” said Jennifer Dorcé-Medard, DO, Family Medicine Residency Program Director at Lakeside Medical Center. “We always say family medicine means we take care of our patients from cradle to their senior years. These physicians went above and beyond to provide access to a range of quality services for our patients, many of whom have complex medical conditions and limited resources.”

Dr. Medard described how Dr. Parsons provided one patient with a continuum of care for COVID-19, from conducting the testing herself to admitting the patient to the hospital and providing follow-up treatment. Another patient benefitted from Dr. Lepoff’s recommendation to seek testing and the results confirmed his suspicions she was suffering from a rare medical condition that needed specialized treatment. Over the course of their training, the graduates formed a powerful bond.

“We took action, we made face shields for each other, we learned how to sew masks for each other and we volunteered to help each other,” said Chief Resident Nergess Taheri, DO. “Unknowingly, the same patients we took care of were also the ones taking care of us.”
This year the residency program was accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), a distinction that assures Lakeside Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency Program meets the quality standards of the specialty or subspecialty practices for which it prepares its graduates.

“This accreditation opens the door to a greater number of candidates for our residency program, both doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO) and doctors of medicine (MD),” said Karen Harris, Vice President of Field Operations for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County and Chair of the hospital’s Graduate Medical Education Committee.

The Family Medicine Residency Program has a total of 15 residents and is funded by a grant from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. The program’s academic and community partners include Nova Southeastern University, Florida Atlantic University and the Florida Department of Health for Palm Beach County.

“I congratulate these distinguished residents and know their training will provide them with a strong foundation for the future,” said Janet D. Moreland, APRN, MSN, LHRM, Executive Director of Lakeside Medical Center.
In his speech, Ishan Gunawardene, MD, Chief of Staff and Hospitalist Medical Director at Lakeside Medical Center remarks, “You are all set to launch your careers at an unprecedented time in history and a critical moment in health care. COVID-19 has affected every one of us but it has directly impacted each of us as health care professionals. Looking back in history, you will be proud you have made a difference.”

To watch the virtual graduation live at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, 2020, visit us on Facebook. For more information about Lakeside Medical Center, which is owned and operated by the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, visit or call 561-996-6571.

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