A love of his alma mater lured pediatrician Dr. Salvatore “Sal” Anzalone back to where he knew he belonged. A graduate of the University of Florida and an avid Gators fan, Anzalone practiced for many years in Pennsylvania, but when his son won a spot on the football team at U.F., Anzalone’s future plans became more immediate.
“I ended up moving here to support my son,” he says, adding that he always knew he’d wind up in Florida one day. “In 2013, I began looking for opportunities, so while my son was playing football, I was going on interviews.” In 2014 he joined Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida, whose mission since its founding in 1977 has been to provide dental and medical care to everyone, regardless of income level or insurance. He is now the medical director for pediatrics.
“I fell in love with Healthcare Network because of what they stood for,” says Anzalone. “I wanted to give back to Florida and touch as many lives as possible.” He adds that the pediatric unit currently treats about 30,000 children and babies—and that’s just one facet of the network. There is a spectrum of care, from medical to dental, offered to people of all ages and abilities. “Whether you have money or not, it doesn’t matter,” he says. “We are open to everyone. If you have Blue Cross Blue Shield you can come here. If you have no insurance, you pay on a sliding scale according to what you can afford.”
Anzalone says that what makes Healthcare Network unique is the integration of health services. “For example, when I first started, we had a lot of infectious disease in kids, but with vaccinations we have less of that,” he explains. “Now the big thing is behavioral health. We have clinical psychologists on staff, and I can easily knock on a door and get a psychologist if I see a teen with depression or anxiety. Integrative behavioral health is where it’s at because we have a different world today. Everything that’s going on in schools and with social media is disturbing to teens, but we can treat it early and these teens can become healthy adults. I’m lucky because I have the ability to reach them before they become adults.”
Anzalone gains another level of outreach at the center through its mission to educate. “I have the opportunity to reach my goals to give back not just to the kids but to my field of medicine by teaching and mentoring doctors who rotate through the facility,” he says. “A lot of students think this is a place doctors come to kick back, but it’s not. This is a place you come to make a difference and to give back.” —Judy Martel