Todd L. Slesinger, MD, FACEP, FCCM, FCCP, FAAEM

Program Director

Todd L. Slesinger, MD, FACEP, FCCM, FCCP, FAAEM completed his B.A. at the University of Chicago, and then spent seven years in Brooklyn attending medical school at SUNY Downstate and then completing his emergency medicine residency at New York Methodist Hospital. He then completed a fellowship in Trauma / Critical Care at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland.

In 2015, he moved to Florida to become the founding Program Director for the Emergency Medicine Residency Program at HCA Florida Aventura Hospital. He is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Critical Care at Florida International University - Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

Erin Marra, MD

Director of Medical Research, Assistant Program Director

Marra completed her B.A. in Spanish literature and biology at the University of Wisconsin. She then attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health where she was a part of the founding group for the TRIUMPH curriculum, which provided additional training in urban medicine and public health. Dr. Marra is continuing her interest in geriatric and public health at HCA Florida Aventura Hospital.

Dr. Alexandra Alvarez-Calderon, M.D.


Dr. Alexandra Alvarez Calderon was born in Lima, Peru and immigrated to the US after high school. She completed her undergraduate studies in Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in science in Chemistry. After graduation she spent one year in Peru working as a phlebotomist and doing community service.

Alex completed her medical education in University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and moved to Boston, MA to complete her 4 year residency in Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center. After completion of her residency, Dr. Alvarez Calderon joined Aventura Hospital and Medical Center Emergency Department. In 2019, during her time working at Aventura hospital, she was awarded for Best Non-Faculty Attending of the Year.

Between 2019 and 2021, she moved to Puerto Rico where she became the Medical Director for Bayamon Medical Center and Manati Medical Center Emergency Department. In September 2021, Dr. Alvarez Calderon relocated back to Florida and re-joined Aventura Hospital and Medical Center as a Faculty Member for the Emergency Medicine Residency and Assistant Medical Director for the Emergency Department.

Her interests are medical education, efficiency in the Emergency Department, wellness and ultrasound.

John Childress, MD, CAQSM

Director of Sports Medicine

A native of Arkansas, Dr. Childress received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Central Arkansas. He later relocated to Ohio and received his medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University. Following medical school he trained in emergency medicine at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, where he also served as Chief Resident. Dr. Childress is board certified in Emergency Medicine and Sports Medicine.

Jessica Cook, MD

Director of Simulation

Dr. Cook was born in Canada and completed her BSc. in Anatomy and Cellular Biology at McGill University. Her interests abroad led her to Ireland, where she spent five years studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin School of Medicine. There she was awarded the prestigious Trinity College Foundation Scholarship in Medicine. She completed her emergency medicine residency in New York City at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital- Icahn School of Medicine in 2015.

Laurence Dubensky, MD

Director of Education

Dr. Dubensky completed his B.A. in studio art at Binghamton University, and his medical degree at New York Medical College and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine at North Shore University Hospital. During residency he developed a focus on medical education and designing an educational website as well as an asynchronous curriculum. Dr. Dubensky continues to prioritize medical education and is also interested in critical care and grilling meat.

William Jaquis, MD, MSHQS, FACEP

Core Faculty

Dr. Jaquis received his medical degree for the Medical College of Ohio, now the University of Toledo College of Medicine. He then completed his residency in emergency medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Cleveland, OH. His interests in leadership and advocacy have kept him highly involved with the American College of Emergency Physicians, culminating in being elected President for the 2019-2020 year. In addition to his work at HCA Florida Aventura Hospital, he is also a Senior Vice President for Envision Physician Services with responsibilities for emergency medicine and hospital medicine. His interests include developing and mentoring leaders, quality and safety, and population health.

Gaurav Patel, MD

Associate Director of Ultrasound

Dr. Patel was born and raised in New Jersey. He completed his undergraduate training at Rutgers University and received his medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed residency in Emergency Medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY and went on to complete an Emergency Ultrasound fellowship at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY. He teams up with Dr. Tran to lead the Point-of-Care US.

Andre Pennardt, MD, FACEP, FAEMS, FAWN

Dr. Andre (Andy) Pennardt is the associate program director of the HCA Florida Aventura Hospital emergency medicine residency. He received his MD degree from the State University of New York Health Science Center-Syracuse in 1991. He completed an internship in general surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, a residency in emergency medicine at the Joint Military Medical Centers in San Antonio, TX, and a fellowship in austere and wilderness medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA. Dr. Pennardt is dual certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine in emergency medicine and emergency medical services. He is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, and the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.

Dr. Abeshek Roka

Dr. Roka was born in Nepal and immigrated to the US after high school. He started out his education at Queensborough Community college and completed his undergraduate at the City University of New York (CUNY) where he majored in chemistry and biochemistry.

After completion of undergraduate education, he was postbac IRTA fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

He completed his medical school education and residency at University of Central Florida before going on to complete fellowships in ultrasound and global health at UT health San Antonio (UTSA). After fellowship, he stayed on as faculty in the department of emergency medicine at UTSA, and also served as the medical director of the San Antonio Refugee Clinic.

His interests are medical education, wellness, ultrasound and global health.

Laura Tortora, MD

Director of Toxicology

Dr. Tortora grew up in Italy and Colombia. She completed her BA in Biopsychology and Italian Studies and trained in vocal performance at Tufts University. Conducted drug trials at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic prior to medical school at Vanderbilt School of Medicine. Trained in Emergency Medicine at the Northwell Health- Long Island Jewish program in NY, and completed a Medical Toxicology fellowship at the University of Arizona, where she ran a busy toxicology admitting service.

Huy Tran, MD

Director of Ultrasound

Dr. Tran completed his B.S. at Florida International University. He earned his medical degree at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. He completed a residency in Emergency Medicine at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY and Emergency Ultrasound Fellowship at North Shore University Hospital/Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Dr. Tran leads the team in point-of-care ultrasound.

Melissa Lazare


Emergency Medicine Program Coordinator