CHI Board Member, Carolyn Taylor Pates, received the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award at the CHI Volunteer Services Awards

President & CEO Message

CHI Board Member, Carolyn Taylor Pates, received the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award at the CHI Volunteer Services Awards

CHI Board Member, Carolyn Taylor Pates, received the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award at the CHI Volunteer Services Awards

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Pezé sou drapo anwo paj la pou Kreyol

Big things are coming at Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI). We just received the green light from permitting to begin construction on the Children’s Crisis Center, a project that will help heal and save our most fragile young people. We are also excited to soon offer our patients cardiology services.

We recently celebrated our employee awards and honored dozens of our high achievers for going above and beyond. We are so fortunate to have such a compassionate, highly skilled staff. They take our mission to heart every day and I am so grateful for them. You can see the list of awardees at along with photos from that day.

CHI is also fortunate to have great support from the community. We saw this as nearly 120 people came out to participate in our golf tournament. Their donations and engagement have helped us to push forward our Children’s Crisis Center project.

We have another exciting event coming up, our Women’s Health fair. This year it’s called “Put You First Women’s Wellness Fair.” It includes pampering such as massages and manicures, consults with our doctors and a section of the fair dedicated to providing resources for job assistance, housing, and more. It even includes Build-a-Bear workshop for kids! Join us May 11 here at the Doris Ison Health Center 10300 SW 216 St., Miami at 5:30pm.

Last, but certainly not least, we were so proud to host an awards ceremony recently for our volunteers. We celebrated the contributions of 16 volunteers. But the most remarkable was our long-time board member, Carolyn Taylor Pates. She received the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for more than 9,900 hours of service! Ms. Pates comes from a long and strong lineage of women who served as leaders in our community. Her late aunt, Doris Ison, founded CHI and advocated for healthcare at the local and national level to ensure everyone had access to high quality healthcare, regardless of race, insurance status or income level. Today Ms. Pates continues her advocacy and more.


Yours Truly,





Blake Hall

Our Compassionate Team Serving You

Maurice Lee is a Warehouse Supply Technician at Community Health of South Florida, Inc. Employed at CHI since 2020, Lee is responsible for printing and delivering supplies to all 14 CHI health centers and school-based programs. A treasured part of his job is completing tasks for staff and patients that are of high importance. Lee takes pride in ensuring that CHI logistic operations run smoothly. In his free time, Lee enjoys fishing and real estate.

Maurice Lee stands in front of his CHI delivery van.

Dr. Maxwell Cardenas is a dentist at Community Health of South Florida’s Doris Ison Health Center. He performs dental procedures, and comprehensive oral examinations for his patients.  Dr. Cardenas takes pride in offering quality service to his patients and taking care of their dental needs. He loves to perform extractions and plans to continue his dental education in 2023. Originally from Nicaragua, Dr. Cardenas likes to exercise and spend time with his family on his free time.

CHI Dentist, Dr. Maxwell Cardenas at Doris Ison Health Center.


First Baby of 2023 in Miami-Dade County Delivered by CHI Doctor

It’s a boy! As the clock struck midnight and cheers erupted in celebration of the new year, CHI’s Dr. Amine Khachani delivered Miami-Dade County’s first baby of 2023 at Jackson South Medical Center.

Ingrid Gonzalez Perez and her husband welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Nelson Diaz Gonzalez on January 1, 2023, at 12:01 a.m. Weighing in at 7 pounds and 2.6 ounces, baby Nelson is the couple’s third child. Perez expressed her gratitude to Dr. Khachani for the beautiful moment. “This was such a positive experience, and I am very happy.”

CHI is committed to offering comprehensive quality care to the community from birth through adulthood.

Ingrid Gonzalez Perez holds her newborn baby boy at Jackson South Medical Center after the baby was delivered by Dr. Amine Khachani

New Year, New You

Associate Director of Family Medicine, Dr. Kelly Mudon

The start of a new year is a time where many of us reflect on our life and determine the changes we would like to see in ourselves. One of those areas that you might consider improving is your health. Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) physicians Dr. Kelly Mudon and Dr. Howard Pratt offer their medical advice on leading a healthier lifestyle and why it’s so important! 


Keep up to date with health appointments 

Scheduling a health appointment with your primary care physician is the first step in focusing on your health in the new year. A physician will look at your blood work and vitals to make sure that you are in good health. Visiting a doctor that is aware of your medical history is crucial, according to Dr. Mudon. 

“Your primary physician is more able to make informed decisions on your health when they are aware of the details of your history,” said Dr. Mudon. In these cases, early recognition of problems is easier.”


Healthier eating 

If you are looking to drop a few pounds this year, evaluate your eating habits! Eating a well-balanced diet is a key factor in one’s health. Healthy eating has several benefits including weight loss and increased energy, said Dr. Mudon. 

“It’s important to work on a healthier lifestyle and moderation in food and drink,” said Dr. Murdon. Losing weight helps improve chronic issues, like Hypertension and Diabetes.”


Behavioral Health Medical Director, Dr. Howard Pratt.


Moving your body and engaging in physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Dr. Mudon said it is linked to improved mobility, a reduced risk of chronic diseases, and a better mood. Increasing physical activity in your everyday life may be challenging at first but there are ways to overcome this hurdle. 

“Exercising 150 minutes per week will greatly benefit your health,” Dr. Mudon said. “Participate in an activity that you love, and you’ll be more likely to continue with it.” 

She recommends fun workouts like swimming if you experience pain in your joints. 


Focusing on your mental health 

Your mental health has a direct link to your overall well-being. People with mental health conditions are at high risk of experiencing chronic physical conditions. Psychiatrist, Dr. Howard Pratt recommends being aware of your mental state and practicing self-care to relieve conditions like anxiety and depression.

“Do small things each day that bring you joy,” he said. “Instead of sitting around and dwelling on your current situation, find activities that allow you to disconnect.” 

However, there are still times when professional help is needed. If you are struggling with your mental health, Dr. Pratt encourages patients to speak to a mental health professional. 

“We need to have honest conversations about our mental health,” he said. “No matter how strong you may feel, sometimes we need help from others.” 

To make an appointment with a primary care physician or mental health professional visit

or call 305-252-4820

CHI Offers Financial Relief to Employees with the “Angel Fund”

CHI establishes the “Angel Fund” for employees experiencing financial hardships.

Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) employee, Angela Robbins (named changed for confidentiality), did not know how she was going to keep her lights on this past holiday season after recently running into challenging times. 

“Life just caught up with me, I was so scared,” she said.

A holiday miracle came to Robbins when she was selected as one of the first recipients of the “CHI Angel Fund.” The new fund aims to provide financial relief to employees that may encounter unexpected crises. CHI established it to offer aid with the goal of supporting the overall financial well-being of its team members. 

Coming off the heels of a global pandemic and soaring inflation, many families are currently feeling the burden on their wallets. CHI cares for its employees and wanted to give back to the people who provide exceptional care to the community. The wellness of CHI staff is of top priority to President and CEO, Blake Hall. 

“We would not be able to care for the South Florida community in the way that we do at CHI, without our wonderful team,” said Hall. “We are here for them and want to support those in need.” 

Robbins, who is a single mom of three, recently purchased a home three years ago. She admits that maintaining the home and other financial responsibilities has been difficult. 

“I’ve had to cancel gym memberships and other things that were important to me. I was expecting my lights to be cut off at any time,” she said. 

So, it is no surprise how thankful and relieved she felt when she found out that she had been selected for the Angel Fund. 

“I’ve been working here for seven years. I have an amazing team and I’ve always been proud to say that I work at CHI,” Robbins said tearfully. “To finally have that recognition that we are not just employees, that we are much more, I feel very blessed and lucky.”  

Natalie Franco (named changed for confidentiality), the second recipient of the “CHI Angel Fund” felt gratitude that she was able to help pay her 77-year-old mother’s mortgage. 

“Joy. I felt not only joy but happiness,” said Franco. “It felt welcoming to know that CHI and this program were there to help me and my family at a tough time.” 

A year ago, Franco’s father sadly passed away leaving her mother in financial hardship and facing foreclosure. Having the ability to pay her mother’s mortgage brought her peace of mind. 

“It meant a great deal to me. My mom had been in that home for over 50 years. It means so much that we could save her home and she did not have to move away from her comfort zone,” said Franco.

Message from the CEO

Happy New Year! It’s a fresh start for all of us as we clean the slate and strive for good health, happiness and success in 2023. I know the team at CHI will be forging ahead to continue with high quality compassionate care with new innovations, programs and services this year.  I hope the new year brings new opportunities to all of you. 

Hopefully, you were able to round out last year with us at the CHI Holiday Festival. I am so grateful to the dozens of organizations who stepped up with donations to ensure the children in our community received toys during the holiday season. It was such a delight to see the joy and excitement on their faces as they received toys, danced with the Grinch and sat down for the holiday movie “The Grinch.”

Then came another gift on New Year’s Day when CHI doctors delivered the first baby of the New Year in Miami-Dade! 

As I reflect on 2022, I am emotional when I consider the way the community continues to rally around our capital campaign to build the Children’s Crisis Center. Last year, donors gave more than $260,000! We are now just $377,000 away from reaching our $5.5 Million Goal. This tremendous support will ensure children with severe mental illness receive the intensive care that they need. 

I am also amazed and humbled by the care and devotion of the CHI team. They continued to provide high-quality healthcare to all of us in the midst of an ongoing pandemic with new challenges and illnesses such as monkeypox and more. They did this while caring for themselves and their own families during difficult times. 

I hope you all will remain resilient and optimistic. Having a positive mindset is key to happiness and success. Look around you, just as I have, there are signs of hope and gifts among us. 

Best wishes,




Blake Hall

CHI Hosts First Annual World Aids Day Walk

On the count of three, community members cheerfully kick off CHI’s first World Aids Day Walk.

When Ashley Nicole Cason was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 15, she thought her life was over. Cason suffered with depression and suicidal thoughts as a teenager and sadly did not see a positive future for herself.  

“I wanted to give up. I felt like my life was over and I couldn’t go on,” she said.  It wasn’t until Cason received support from loved ones as an adult that she began to feel hope for her life.  

Cason is a national advocate for HIV and AIDS. She spoke to the crowd at  Community Health of South Florida, Inc.’s first World AIDS Day walk on December 3rd at JL and Enid W. Demps Park. 

World AIDS Day is an annual international day that encourages people to come together to tear down the barriers that prevent people from accessing HIV testing, prevention, and access to treatment. 

CHI highlighted this important cause to raise awareness for HIV and AIDs and to mourn the lives lost to this terrible illness. The community gathered on the tracks to participate in a one-mile walk, an energetic warm up and enjoyed great music and food with their families. CHI’s mobile medical van was also on site to administer free HIV screenings.

“I am so happy to see such a great turn out today,” said Blake Hall, CHI’s President and CEO. “It is my goal that CHI will always be here for those who are living with HIV. You are not alone.” 

Cason believes events like this help tackle HIV and AIDS head-on by having open and honest discussions with others.  

“When you are battling a chronic illness, it is important to have a good support system. There are many people who are HIV/AIDS positive that live and work amongst you,” said Cason.  “While you are walking today, keep in mind the purpose of why you are here. We all need to support each other.”

Our Compassionate Team Serving You

Cecily Hill poses for a photo at the Doris Ison Health Center.

Cecily Hill, MA, is a Medical Assistant at Community Health of South Florida’s Doris Ison Health Center. She has been employed at CHI since 2021. As a medical assistant, she assesses the medical needs of the patient before they see a doctor or nurse. Hill takes pride in offering quality care to her patients. Originally from Miami, Hill spends her free time going to the beach and reading. Hill plans to continue her career in children’s behavioral health.







Juan Lopez, stands proudly in front of his CHI transportation van.

Juan Lopez is a Lead Driver at Community Health of South Florida, Inc. He is responsible for transporting patients from their homes to CHI Health centers. He began working at CHI in 2014 as a driver and was promoted to Lead Driver three years later in 2017. Lopez loves giving back to his community and believes he is making a difference transporting patients to their health appointments. He is originally from Mexico City, Mexico and enjoys spending time with his daughter.



Award-Winning CHIP Program Inspires Change in the Lives of Patients

Dr. Rivera Santana (left) poses for a photo with her patient, Janet Reyes (right).


It’s not typical to see your doctor dancing with you on a Zoom workout to a funky hip-hop beat. Patients enjoyed this experience thanks to the CHIP program, an interactive fitness program created by Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) residents Dr. Arshely Fleuristal and Dr. Rivera Santana.

Community Health Initiative Project (CHIP), is a program that targets obesity and nutrition. Dr. Fleuristal and Dr. Santana noticed that these issues heavily affected individuals of Black and Hispanic backgrounds.

Dr. Santana grew up in Puerto Rico and witnessed how obesity and poor eating habits affected her family members. She believed that she would have the same health issues if she did not make necessary changes to her lifestyle.

“I could continue this cycle, or I could try to change,” said Dr. Santana.

Dr. Fleuristal added how a reluctance to change lifestyle habits is a key factor in poor health among some of her patients.

“Food and community are huge aspects of their lives, so it is difficult for them to shift from that pattern,” said Dr. Fleuristal.

In May 2021, Dr. Santana and Dr. Fleuristal were awarded the Resident Service Cares Award and a grant by The American Academy of Family Physicians. The program began in September 2021 and had a focus group of African American and Hispanic women. Drs. Santana and Fleuristal selected this group as data showed that women in Miami-Dade County were 67% more obese than men.

They concluded that a new approach to tackling these concerns would be best. They used motivational techniques to help change the mindsets of the 40 women who were selected for this program.

“Simply telling our patients what to do, does not work,” said Dr. Fleuristal. “Giving them the autonomy on how they want to move forward in their health journey is beneficial.” said Dr. Fleuristal.

CHI resident Dr. Arshely Fleuristal helped create the CHIP program.

The 10-month program included free full access to a nutritionist, an online gym membership, a WhatsApp group chat with other patients, and workout equipment. They also attended an in-person visit with their doctor once a month where they addressed concerns they may have had.

“Accessibility to a healthy lifestyle should not be based on how much money you have,” said Dr. Santana.

By the end of the program in June 2022, there was an 82% increase in physical activity among patients and a 93% increase in healthier eating habits. Patients reported significant changes in their appearance and overall wellbeing.

Janet Reyes joined the program to lose weight because she did not know where to begin in her journey. She began eating smaller portions and Dr. Santana checked in with her consistently to keep her on track.

“I started to eat more vegetables and more importantly, I realized that this is a lifestyle change not just a fad diet,” said Dr. Reyes.

Drs. Fleuristal and Dr. Santana are hopeful that the CHIP program will evolve at CHI. They envision having a behavioral health component added to the program where patients will be able to seek emotional support from CHI therapists during the process.

“We have the power to change lives by encouraging wellness and preventative care,” said Dr. Fleuristal.

CHI Offers Educational Diabetic Group Visits for Patients

CHI staff and patients pose for a photo after diabetic group visit.


Shirl Jones suffered from fainting spells and low blood sugar for months as a diabetic. She was not aware that going through long periods of fasting would be the cause.

“I work very long hours and occasionally will miss meals,” said Jones.

She was one of several diabetic patients who participated in a group visit at Community Health of South Florida’s Naranja Health Center. CHI is dedicated to offering support and quality care to the South Florida community. As part of that continued care, an interactive visit was offered to diabetic patients like Jones as part of their regular check-up appointment. The visit included an educational cooking demonstration by a nutritionist and one-on-one discussions with CHI physicians and pharmacists.

Rochelle Anderson, nutritionist at CHI, explained to Jones the importance of eating enough as a diabetic.

“Even if you don’t think you’re hungry, you should still eat to fuel your body during your shift,” said Anderson.

Jones shook her head in excited agreement with Anderson, grateful for the suggestion. She now had a renewed approach on managing her diabetes.

“Seeing a nutritionist, a professional, will help them make necessary changes,” said Margarita Sarmiento, Licensed Nurse Practitioner.

She has witnessed firsthand among her patients a reluctance in making changes in one’s lifestyle due to a lack of education about diabetes.

“Sometimes they just do not want to change,” she said.

However, CHI providers are hopeful that more visits like this will bring positive results in the lives of their patients.

During the visit, patients were treated to a healthy, delicious plate of ceviche and black bean salad prepared by Anderson. She also talked about the value of key ingredients in a meal.

“I would like for your meals to have a complex carb, for instance, a sweet potato, or black beans. These carbs have fiber in them and provide your body with nutrients,” said Anderson.

(Left) Rochelle Anderson, nutritionist at CHI, discusses healthy food options with Shirl Jones, patient (Right).

Diabetes affects 37.3 million people in the United States. According to Dr. Paulin Gotrace, patient education is a key factor in controlling this disease. Dr. Gotrace’s focus when treating his patients is encouraging compliance, education, and a healthy lifestyle. He emphasized that the most effective method in his treatment plan is detailing the beneficial results they will see from taking their medication.

“We serve this community and know their needs. Constant education is very important,” said Dr. Gotrace.

The patients left the group visit feeling hopeful that they can better manage their diabetes with the information they learned.

“Classes like this will help me because I get educated,” said another patient, Charmaine Drammond.