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Chapter Information

Incorporated June 2009

Visit our Chapter Website
Join our Facebook group Florida, Puerto Rico & the Caribbean Chapter of the ASMBS
Join our LinkedIn group ASMBS Florida, Puerto Rico & the Caribbean Chapter
Join our Twitter Group ASMBS Florida, Puerto Rico & the Caribbean Chapter @AsmbsC

Mission Statement

The main mission of the Florida, Puerto Rico & Caribbean Chapter is to improve access to care to all members in our region with the support and Collaboration of the ASMBS. We also want the chapter to enhance the interaction and communication among members within the region, as well as assist the practitioners in our state with their difficulties in providing care to the Bariatric patient.

Executive Officers

President: Samuel Szomstein, MD FASMBS
Past President: Michel Murr, MD
Vice President: Open
Treasurer: Nestor F. de la Cruz-Munoz, MD
Secretary: John P. Gonzalvo, DO FASMBS
Integrated Health Chair: Vicky Blackard, RN, MBA, HCM, CBN
Integrated Health Co-Chair: Lillian Craggs-Dino DHA RDN LDN CLT
STAR (State Access to Care Representative): Joseph Cheblis, MD FASMBS
Integrated Health STAR (State Access to Care Representative): Vicky Blackard, RN MBA/HCM CBN
Chapter Liaison to Puerto Rico: Joseph Melendez-Davison, MD
Chapter Liaison Region 1: Michael Edwards, MD (Jacksonville)
Chapter Liaison Region 2: Kandace Kichler, MD (Atlantis)
Chapter Liaison Region 3: Daniel Baughn, PhD (Tampa)
Chapter Liaison Region 4: Open

Board of Directors

George S. Webb, MD FASMBS
Patrick W. Domkowski, MD PhD FASMBS
Tiffany M. Jessee, DO


Samuel Szomstein, MD FASMBS
Florida, Puerto Rico & The Caribbean ASMBS Chapter President 2950 Cleveland Clinic Boulevard
Weston, FL 33331

Vicky Blackard, RN, MBA, HCM, CBN
Florida, Puerto Rico & The Caribbean ASMBS Chapter
Integrated Health Chair 646 Virginia Street, Suite 600
Dunedin, Florida 34698

Chapter Meetings

  • Florida, Puerto Rico & The Caribbean Chapter Webinar: "Management of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and the role of bariatric surgery: a brief review for surgeons"
    Tuesday September 1, 2020 5:30 PM EST
    Moderator: John Paul Gonzalvo, DO FACS
    Presenter: Michael M. Murr. MD FACS FASMBS
    Register in advance for this meeting
    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
    1 FREE CME for Florida, Puerto Rico, & the Caribbean state chapter members

  • Florida, Puerto Rico & The Caribbean Chapter Webinar: "Role of Robotic Surgery and Revisional Bariatric Surgery"
    Friday, July 24, 2020 at 3 PM Eastern
    Presented by Dr. E. Elli, Director of Bariatric Surgery Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville
    1 free CME for Florida, Puerto Rico, & the Caribbean state chapter members

    For ASMBS accreditation statement please see:

  • Facebook Live Event "Mental Health for the Healthcare Workers"
    Host: Daniel Baughn, Ph.D
    Wednesday, April 15 at 6PM Eastern
    On the Florida, Puerto Rico & the Caribbean Chapter of the ASMBS Facebook page

  • Facebook Live Event "How to keep your immune strong with good nutrition"
    Host: Lillian Craggs-Dino, DHA, RDN, LDN
    Wednesday, April 1 at 7PM Eastern
    On the Florida, Puerto Rico & the Caribbean Chapter of the ASMBS Facebook page

  • Florida, Puerto Rico & The Caribbean Chapter Meeting at the 19th Annual Surgery of the Foregut Symposium
    Tuesday, February 18, 2020
    Majorca Room (off Granada Ballroom)
    Call-in Number: 425-436-6303; Access code: 291280
    The Biltmore Hotel
    Coral Gables, Florida

  • Florida, Puerto Rico & The Caribbean Chapter Meeting at IFSO
    Tuesday, July 28, 2020
    Room TDB Call-in Number: 425-436-6303; Access code: 291280

  • Chapter Dinner December 2019 sponsored by Norvo Nordisk

  • Florida, Puerto Rico & The Caribbean Chapter Meeting at ObesityWeek 2019 in Las Vegas, NV
    Tuesday, November 5, 2019
    5:15-6:15pm Pacific
    Delano, 3940 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89119 (adjacent to Mandalay Bay), Sienna BC Room – 3rd Floor

  • Certified Bariatric Nurse Review Course in Florida
    When: October 18, 2019 (8:00am – 4:00pm)
    October 19, 2019 (8:00am – Noon)
    Where: Mease Dunedin Hospital, Dunedin, FL

  • Florida, Puerto Rico & The Caribbean Chapter meeting at the Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute Week 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    Monday, February 19th
    Lunch meeting from 12:30-1:30pm
    The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale

    The full Bariatric Day is $350, but as a chapter member you will receive a special discount of $150 off the $350 registration fee. Your final cost is only $200 for the entire bariatric day program, which includes breakfast, lunch, the chapter meeting, a snack, and CME/MOC credits. This is a great value for both our surgeon and integrated health chapter members! The Chapter is paying $100 and the Cleveland Clinic is paying $50 of your cost to attend. Please note that your 2018 ASMBS Florida, Puerto Rico & The Caribbean Chapter dues must be paid in order to take advantage of this rate.

  • Florida State Chapter Meeting at ObesityWeek 2016 in New Orleans, LA
    Wednesday, November 2, 2016
    6:15-7:15pm Central
    Hilton New Orleans Riverside Eglinton Room

  • Bariatric Advocacy Training: Access to care for bariatric patients is something that affects every bariatric surgery program in Florida! Join your Florida colleagues at one of the events listed below as we work together on a common cause that will benefit everyone! The ASMBS Florida Chapter, in conjunction with the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), is holding two Advocacy Training Sessions to train our Florida Chapter Members, and any member of the Florida Bariatric Community, to influence the legislative process. The sessions are designed for attendees who have an interest in learning more about the legislative and regulatory processes and explores ways they can make a difference through advocacy on the local, state and federal levels. During this training session, you will learn from Joe Nadglowski, OAC’s President and CEO, Chris Gallagher, ASMBS’ Policy Consultant and other policy thought leaders about how to interact with your elected and appointed officials so that you can be an effective advocate for change. And before it’s over, you will have the opportunity to put your newly-learned advocacy skills to use during mock legislative visits and experience advocating for access to obesity treatments, obesity awareness and much more!

    January 22, 2016
    8:00am – 1:00pm (Lunch included)
    Cleveland Clinic
    2950 Cleveland Clinic Boulevard
    Weston, FL 33331

    January 29, 2016
    8:00am – 1:00pm (Lunch included)
    Baptist Medical Center
    800 Prudential Drive
    Jacksonville, FL 32207

  • Annual Meeting February 2016 (CME Activity)

  • September 24, 2015: Quarterly Educational Dinner for ALL Florida State Chapter members

    • Topic: Anti-Obesity Medications: An Update on the Options Available in 2015
    • Speaker: Stephen E. m. R. O’Brien, M.D., Senior Obesity Medical Liaison, Novo Nordisk, Inc.
    • Where: Tarantella Ristorante, 1755 Bell Tower Lane, Weston, FL 33326
    • 24 members attended
  • June 19, 2014 in Miami, FL – This event was held during ASMBS Spring Educational meeting (CME Activity)

    • The Florida State Chapter was please & excited to welcome Dr. Nussbaum, Chair of the State Chapter Presidents; Joe Nadglowski, President & CEO of Obesity Action Coalition and many other exciting speakers to a very informative and well organized meeting
    • Several topics and aspects on how to improve and established a State Chapter were discussed and participation was very encouraging

Chapter Updates and Activities

  • Upcoming Executive Board Elections at ASMBS Annual Meeting
  • IH Executive Board elections August 2019
  • Numerous and continuing Advocacy efforts Led by STAR Joseph Chebli 2018-2019
  • Relaunching of the Official Chapter Facebook Page in November 2019
  • In December 2017 Puerto Rico & The Caribbean were added to the chapter
  • Statewide Pedometer Challenge 2nd Edition (February–March 2017)
  • March 2016: 3rd Installment of Florida Chapter Newsletter circulated
  • Multi-center Bariatric Journal Video Conferences: Two in 2015 and hoping to do more (every 3 months) (Jawad, Szomstein MD)
  • October 24, 2015: South Florida Walk for Obesity Event hosted by Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Foundation and the ASMBS Florida State Chapter: With the support of the Florida State Chapter and the ASMBS Foundation, The Cleveland Clinic of Weston did their first obesity walk. It was an amazing success, thanks to the energetic efforts of Lillian Craggs-Dino and her team. Over 100 walkers participated in the event raising $11,366 for the ASMBS Foundation. Where: Tree Tops Park, 3900 SW 100 Avenue, Davie, FL 33328
  • Several Advocacy efforts/letters (Chebli, Rosenthal, English, Szomstein)
  • February 22, 2015: Statewide Pedometer Challenge: over 6 million steps and more than 38 Centers registered across Florida; Over 3 times the amount of steps and participation than expected at no financial cost; First activity of its kind; nationwide startup National Pedometer Challenge by ASMBS to be held late 2015
  • Fall/Winter 2015: “Day in Bariatric Surgery” at the Cleveland Clinic, Weston, FL to promote, advocate, and introduce bariatrics to legislators/insurance company executives (Rosenthal, Szomstein)

Support Groups

Brandon Regional Hospital
Florida Hospital Tampa
Tampa General Hospital
BayCare Hospital System
Tampa Bariatrics
Venice Regional Bayfront Health

Advocacy Information

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