The cardiac surgical team is comprised of almost fifty trained professionals. Our anesthesiologists, surgeons, perfusion staff, and operating room assistants, function seamlessly as a seasoned orchestra provide exceptional surgical results. After the procedure, our nursing staff, nutritionists, physical therapists, and respiratory therapists provide compassionate, tailor-made post-operative care.
I decided to dedicate my life to surgery on people’s hearts, after watching an episode of NOVA on public television, when I was 11 years old. Once it was time to start training, I started an intern in General Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. After completing seven years of training (including two years studying human gene therapy), I specialized in Cardiac Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center. I stayed on faculty and did some advanced training in Heart Transplant/Artificial Heart Surgery at Columbia University and then became an Assistant Professor from January 2005 until November 2013. I was then recruited to lead the Center for Aortic Disease at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, where he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Additionally, I served as the Medical Director for Mount Sinai International. This role allowed me to consult throughout the world in cardiac service line development.
Searching for an opportunity to make a more global impact, I moved to Miami and became the Medical Director and Chief of Cardiac Surgery at HCA Healthcare East Florida Division, where I am committed to creating a destination for cardiovascular disease in Miami to impact Latin America and the Carribean.
Since my arrival, I created structural heart programs in three Dade County Hospitals as well as the Dade County Aortic Emergency Reference Center.
My sub-specialty in Aortic Surgery and transcatheter valves, has allowed me to write over 50 manuscripts and book chapters. I was honored to participate as a principal investigator of many clinical TAVR trials (including PARTNER I, II, SURTAVI, and SENTINAL) and thoracic endograft trials (including Bolton RELAY and THORAFLEX HYBRID). Because I always want to stay current in my learning, I enrolled and then graduated in the inaugural class of the Surgical Leadership Program at Harvard Medical School in 2019.
I operated on six continents, in 21 countries. I have been honored in Castle Connelly’s Best Doctors in America, New York Magazines’ Best Thoracic Surgeon’s, and Most Honored Doctor’s list for the past eleven consecutive years and a member of the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, and American College of Cardiology.
I define myself primarily, as a teacher and am most proud of training over twenty-four physicians in aortic surgery; eleven of which currently hold the title of Director of Aortic Surgery in various departments throughout the United States, Japan, and Israel.
When not operating, I espouse heart healthy living as a cyclist, marathon runner, and triathlete.
I was a featured surgeon in the medical documentary: NY MED, appeared on the Rachael Maddow show, FoxNews, Good Day NY, the Today show, the NY Times, the NY Daily News, and is the subject of the book, Barefoot in New York.
I have the honor of being Dr. Stewart’s practice manager and Administrative Assistant for his entire professional career. I am a first generation American, born of Puerto Rican parents and raised in New York City. I have a unique empathy for the patient experience, as I had my first cardiac surgery at 45 years-old because of rheumatic heart disease. I was given a mechanical mitral valve and was maintained on Coumadin for 20 years. After recovering from that surgery, I was hired at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center to help start the practice of a new surgeon named Dr. Allan Stewart. Because I am fluent in Spanish, I rapidly learned about all aspects of cardiac surgery, since I had to translate each day. His practice rapidly expanded and, after ten years, he moved to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. I moved with him and we expanded our practice to reach far outside of the United States. After five years, he decided to move to Miami, to have a greater impact on the delivery of cardiovascular care. My husband and I moved with his family, to Miami.
During this time, my health began to deteriorate. After being reassured that my heart was fine by multiple doctors, I finally expressed my frustration with my health to Dr. Stewart. He looked at my recent echocardiogram and found that my mitral valve was stuck. I needed a complex, re-operative double valve replacement. I asked Dr Stewart to do my surgery and now I am feeling amazing. This experience gave me new insight into the struggle to find exceptional care in South Florida, the emotional toll of surgery as a working woman, and the anxiety of having an operation with my family scattered throughout the United States. This insight has greatly enhanced my ability to guide patients, during their journey.
My name is Orlando Diaz, I became a nurse practitioner recently, but I have been an ICU nurse for over 5 years now. I have surrounded myself with cardiac patients my whole career and it is a great satisfaction to know I am taking care of one of the most important organs in the body, if not the most. I love taking care of patient’s and seeing how our impact can improve their quality of life.
Why did I decide to become a Nurse Practitioner?
For me there is nothing more rewarding than being a Nurse Practitioner. Patient satisfaction and gratification is the greatest reward. Being approached by patient’s months and years after surgery to be thanked for all we’ve done for the them is the best feeling in the world. It was so important for me to find my passion, and I achieved that as a cardiac nurse practitioner.
I was born in Cuba and have a mixed heritage from China and Cuba. I left Cuba and ultimately settled in the United States and became a nurse. While working in the Cardiac ICU, fell in love with post-operative patient care. I decided to pursue further studies and became an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. I can fully communicate with patients in English and in Spanish. I treat each patient with compassion, as if they were my own family. I am an integral part of Dr Stewart’s team and am intimately involved with a every aspect of care from the office visit, until discharge after surgery. I frequently communicate with patients and families during the surgery and throughout their hospital stay.
I began my training in nursing at Florida International University (FIU) and was hired immediately afterward in the Cardiac Surgery ICU at Aventura Hospital. During this time, I fell in love with cardiac physiology and decided to continue my studies as a cardiac surgery acute care nurse practitioner. Once completing my master’s degree, I began my career as a Nurse Practitioner, in December 2018. I pride myself on compassionate care. I am a skilled communicator who listens carefully before speaking. I am self-motivated and highly energetic with an extreme focus on perfect outcomes. I always seek innovative solutions and partner with my patients to help them recover from surgery.