^pBy Dan Mearns
Special to Feeling Fit
Being named Fawcett Memorial Hospital’s 2019 Physician of the Year demonstrates Dr. Edgardo Soto de la Rosa’s commitment to his profession and his patients. He accepts the honor with humility and shares it with the people who work alongside him.
“I’m extremely honored,” he said. “The award has even more meaning because it was selected by the nurses in the hospital. I always have the utmost respect for all our nurses. I think they make our job so much easier, and they are the ones who really take care of the patients on a daily basis.”
Fawcett also honored a pair of nurses: 2019 Nurse of the Year Chase Pritt, RN, and New Nurse of the Year Alina Kulakevich, RN.
“Chase was nominated by our medical staff as being extremely knowledgeable, a problem solver, dedicated to patient care and one who has risen to the challenges on his unit and an excellent role model,” said Fawcett Marketing & Public Relations Director Alexandria Davis.
“Alina also was nominated by our medical staff, who say she always offers a helping hand,” Davis added. “She is eager to learn, a critical thinker and exemplifies what it means to be a safe and compassionate nurse.”
Dr. Soto enjoys interacting with nurses and other staff, which often results in teaching moments for the nurses.
“I think that’s part of my upbringing,” he said. “I treat everybody as if they are the CEO of the hospital. Over these past six years, I have achieved a great rapport with the nursing staff at Fawcett, especially with my nurses in the Intensive Care Unit.”
Kulakevich is one of those intensive care nurses. Dr. Soto is a critical care specialist in addition to being a pulmonologist.
Dr. Soto attended medical school in his native Puerto Rico and did all of subsequent training (internship, residency, fellowship) over eight years at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
“After that, I worked three years in Mississippi as just a critical care physician, and I’ve been here six years in the pulmonary and critical care practice,” he said. “We’re a group of five physicians. It’s so good to be here in Florida. I’m loving it.”
Dr. Soto described how he became interested in both critical and pulmonary care.
“When I was doing my residency, I was more drawn to critical care,” he recalled. “I liked intensive care, working in ICUs.
“Most of the fellowships are set up so if you do ICU, you also do pulmonary. Once I started to do the pulmonary part, I kind of fell in love with it. That’s how I got into that.”
Dr. Soto says most of the patients he sees in Charlotte County suffer from COPD, which includes chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as emphysema.
“It’s usually a byproduct of smoking,” said the doctor. “They come to the hospital with difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.”
Nurse of the Year Chase Pritt and New Nurse of the Year Alina Kulakevich share Dr. Soto’s commitment to patient care.
“I believe that my parents instilled in me the ability to lead and to always do my best in whatever I do,” said Pratt. “I love being a nurse and being there for the patients that we come in contact with.”
“I currently work in the intensive care unit and absolutely love and enjoy the work I do, the complexity of the patients and their families as well as the amazing nurses I work with,” Kulakevich said.
Pratt, whose father was in the Air Force, was born in California and lived in seven different states before landing in Florida. He recently bought a new house in North Port with his wife and fellow nurse,
Pratt started his nursing career at Fawcett a little over three years ago.
“I always loved cardiac (study) in school and couldn’t be happier working with cardiac patients on cardiovascular stepdown (a transition unit between the ICU and the regular floor).”
Pratt’s goals include furthering his education with his eye on a master’s degree.
“I haven’t truly decided what is next for me,” he said. “More traveling, for sure.”
Kulakevich started her career at Fawcett and has been there about a year and a half. Originally from upstate New York, she has been living in Florida for some time now. She earned her nursing degree at State College of Florida in Venice.
Kulakevich plans to obtain an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degree and become a nurse practitioner, which will enable her to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnose illness and disease, prescribe medication and formulate treatment plans.
“I’m married to a great man for almost three years now,” Kulakevich said. “I’m also especially grateful to my parents, who had the courage to move our family to the United States from Ukraine in hopes of a better life for their children.”
Both nurses are appreciative of the award voted them by the Fawcett Medical Staff.
“I’m honored to be named New Nurse of the Year,” Kulakevich said. ‘It’s great reassurance that this is what I’m supposed to be doing and very encouraging. I think some of the qualities I try to have are the willingness to learn and be taught as well as simply be available to help anyone in need.”
Said Pratt: “It truly is a blessing to be voted Nurse of the Year, because it means that my hard work and determination to be the best version of myself is coming to fruition. To be even nominated is amazing and I couldn’t be happier to receive this award.”