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Stavros’ award will benefit FSUCares trips

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July 2017

FSUCares’ annual service-learning trips to Panama just got a $10,000 boost, thanks to a faculty member who regularly takes part in them.

Mark Stavros, medical director in the Emergency Department at West Florida Hospital in Pensacola, has received an HCA Frist Humanitarian Award. For medical staff members at Hospital Corporation of America institutions, the honor includes a $10,000 donation to the recipient’s charity of choice. For Stavros, that choice was FSUCares.

“I was honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Stavros, an education director for the College of Medicine and clerkship director for the Pensacola Regional Campus. “I am so thrilled that the $10,000 gift is going to FSUCares. I know that this donation will be going to a great cause and will positively impact many lives – patients’ and students’ – in the years to come.”

FSUCares, a student-run organization that serves those in need locally and internationally, started its spring break service-learning trips to Panama, Immokalee and elsewhere soon after the first class arrived in 2001. Stavros has been among the regular faculty participants in the Panama trips, along with longtime faculty advisor Ken Brummel-Smith and alumni Sarah and Charles Ritchie.

“Having the opportunity to serve in other countries that do not have the remarkable resources that we have in the U.S. is quite enlightening,” Stavros said. “It helps you appreciate how blessed we truly are in this country. Having gained that perspective has been so important to me in my career as a physician, and I know that this experience with FSUCares will impact this next generation of young physicians.”

Brummel-Smith said Stavros stimulates others on the Panama team to do their best and to enjoy the experience to the fullest.

“He always brings one of his eight children, who serve as the main contacts with the children during our trips,” Brummel-Smith said. “This is not just good relations, but it actually helps us deliver care – because the families are large, and when the kids are occupied by Dr. Stavros’ children, we can focus on the sick patients.”

Students on the trips learn more from Stavros than just medical know-how, Brummel-Smith said. They also see a busy ER doctor taking time to serve patients who are poor. What’s more, they see a man who loves Panama.

“He’s always showing students how to take in a foreign country and learn all about it with love, honesty and respect,” Brummel-Smith said. “I think that is a key ingredient needed in global health teaching.”

Another key ingredient is money, and the $10,000 from Stavros’ HCA award is a godsend.

“We’ve been going to Filipina and the surrounding villages for 15 years,” Brummel-Smith said. “We’ve seen kids born, grow up and even have babies, and old people die. They know us and look forward to FSU coming. We’ve also seen the health of their communities improve.

“We communicate with the younger ones through Facebook all the time. We are even supporting the first student from that area going to medical school in Panama. This is a long-term commitment, and this kind of donation says that.”

Said Stavros: “These service opportunities give all of us a focus for why we were called to medicine in the first place. I am indebted to this organization for providing me with these opportunities to share my gifts and blessings with others in need.”

The Frist Humanitarian Award, named for HCA co-founder Dr. Thomas F. Frist Sr., is the highest honor that HCA bestows on its physicians, volunteers or employees. Created in 1971, the award honors individuals who demonstrate a level of commitment and caring that goes beyond everyday acts of kindness, and who inspire colleagues with their compassion, dedication and spirit.

Watch a video featuring Stavros: