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Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DIA News
AL DÍA's Top Doctors were awarded for their work and dedication at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia January 26 (Front Row: Xilma Ortiz-Gonzalez, MD, María Elena Vega-Sanchez, MD, Maribel Hernández, MD, Ana María López, MD, Hema Datwani, MD Back…

Award recipients echo the importance of compassion and collaboration for healthcare professionals

A roster of 13 medical visionaries shared their experiences and hopes for the future of health care at the 2022 AL DÍA Top Doctors celebration.

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AL DÍA’s Top Doctors award ceremony brought 13 physicians to the stage on Wednesday, and each echoed a resounding theme of why healthcare professionals must lead in compassion and collaboration more than ever before.

Daniel Schidlow, MD, professor of pediatrics at Drexel University, kicked off the night as the event’s master of ceremonies, introducing Kevin Mahoney, CEO of UPenn Health System (UPHS) and chair of AL DÍA’s Top Doctors advisory board, to share a few words.

Mahoney immediately set the tone of the celebration by delivering a message of empowerment, in which he called the four C’s, to all award recipients present.

“The four C’s are Care, Compassion, Collaboration, and Challenge,” Mahoney said. “We need to work together, as we continue to show care and compassion for our patients. I encourage you, as you return to your home hospital, to continue collaborating and challenging one another.”

He also addressed the increasing need to advocate for diverse representation in the medical field, and the importance of accountability for leadership in our time.

Guest speaker Natalia Ortiz-Torrent, MD, FAPA, FAPM, FPCP, of Temple Health announced the first two award winners for AL DÍA’s Top Doctors emerging leader, Hema Datwani, MD, and student leader, Juan Cerezo.

Ortiz-Torrent noted her dream came true to participate in a celebration of other Latino medical colleagues, and be the one to honor Datwani and Cerezo with their awards.

Cerezo, a medical student at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine, received the student leader award and a cash prize from AL DÍA.

Although he is not a Philly native himself, Cerezo said the medical need in the city motivates him to work hard, and each day he is moved with compassion for the patients he sees.

“I feel very welcomed here in the Philadelphia community. I didn’t expect to get as involved as I did, but I saw a need, especially with other Latinos that helped me to get here, and that's how I became involved,” said Cerezo.

Emerging leader Datwani said she was very grateful for the recognition of her work, and that the award stood as a symbol of her devotion to serving Latinos.

“It’s a great honor to take care of the Latin-American community and it's an integral part of who I am,” she said.

Additional award recipients such as Xilma Ortiz-Gonzalez, MD, PhD, at CHOP, Alda Maria Gonzaga, MD, MS, from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and Mario Cruz, MD, at Philadelphia FIGHT, all echoed similar speeches with a call to action for physicians to create more opportunities for younger generations.

“Gracias, it is a great honor,” said Ortiz-Gonzalez. “This is a very long road to get to be a physician-scientist, but I hope the work translates into better care for the future and I hope to be a role model for the next generation.”

The rest of the evening followed with thank you speeches and encouragement by all other award-winners including Christian Witzke, MD, Gysella B. Muniz Pujalt, MD, Maria Elena Vega-Sanchez, MD, Maribel Hernandez, MD, Diego G. Chaves-Gnecco, MD, MPH, FAAP, Roberto Ortiz-Aguayo, MD, MMM, and Victor Diaz, MD.

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