Noted pediatric surgeon David Kays, M.D., is medical director of the Johns Hopkins All Children's Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Program. Dr. Kays also serves as director of the ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) Program and co-director of the Fetal Diagnosis/Treatment Program.
Dr. Kays brings more than two decades of clinical and research leadership in the treatment of congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a life-threatening birth defect, to the Department of Surgery and the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Maternal, Fetal & Neonatal Institute. His research has focused on defining the best treatment strategies for this challenging neonatal diagnosis and contributed to significant advances in surgical repair. Dr. Kays and his team achieved an 88 percent survival rate for surgical repair of congenital diaphragmatic hernia over a 20-year period.
He comes to St. Petersburg after more than 20 years at UF Health and Shands Children’s Hospital, where he was surgeon-in-chief, medical director of the congenital diaphragmatic hernia program and medical director of pediatric respiratory and ventilator support. He also was a professor of surgery and chief of the division of pediatric surgery in the University of Florida College of Medicine, Department of Surgery. He is the author or coauthor of 50 peer-reviewed original science publications and speaks nationally and internationally on congenital diaphragmatic hernia repair.
More about David William Kays, M.D.
N. Elizabeth Walford, M.D., FACS, FAAP
Dr. Walford originates from South Georgia. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia (BS) and Mercer University School of Medicine (MD). She is board certified in general surgery and has done specialty training in critical care medicine. She completed a fellowship in pediatric surgery at the University of Oklahoma.
More about N. Elizabeth Walford, M.D.
Drew Rideout, M.D.
Dr. Drew Rideout grew up in Nigeria, where his parents were missionary teachers. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS) and Stony Brook School of Medicine (MD). He completed his general surgery residency at the University of South Florida and his pediatric surgery fellowship at Emory University. He also completed a research fellowship at the University of South Florida and was principal investigator on a grant studying the improvement in obesity-related diseases after gastric bypass. He has taught high school math and science, coached wrestling, and has a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. Dr. Rideout has specialized training in advanced minimally invasive surgery for both newborns and adolescents.
More about Drew Rideout, M.D.
Varun Bhalla, M.D.
Varun Bhalla, M.D., is a pediatric surgery fellow at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Dr. Bhalla graduated from Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University and served as chief resident at Georgia Regents University (Formerly Medical College of GA) Augusta, GA. He also completed a surgical critical care fellowship in general surgery at Children's National Washington, DC, M.D.
Dr. Bhalla also completed a one-year research residency in the Departments of Surgery and Biochemistry at Georgia Regents University Augusta, GA. During medical school, he was president of the Medical College of Georgia and class representative of the Class of 2008.
Christopher Snyder, M.D.
Dr. Snyder is a pediatric surgery fellow with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. He is also a staff surgeon with the U.S. Air Force Medical Service at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, a trauma and acute care surgeon with the University of South Florida and an affiliate assistant professor at the University of South Florida. Previously, Dr. Snyder was a staff surgeon with the U.S. Air Force Medical Service at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.
After graduating from the University of Florida, Dr. Snyder completed a residency and research fellowship at the University of Alabaman at Birmingham.
Matthew P. Benson, PA-C
Matthew has worked at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in Pediatric General Surgery/Trauma since February 2013. He graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training/Sports Medicine from Central Michigan University in 2003. He received his Master’s Degree in Clinical Medical Science in the Physician Assistant Program at Barry University in 2012. His previous health care experience includes an Athletic Training internship with the New York Yankees at their rehabilitation facility in Tampa, FL. He was the Head Athletic Trainer for the Tampa Bay Storm in the Arena Football League for 3 seasons from 2005-2007. He was also the Head Athletic Trainer for a local High School, Seminole High School from 2004-2010. He is a nationally board certified Physician Assistant by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. He is also a licensed Physician Assistant by the state of Florida. He is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants as well as the Florida Association of Physician Assistants. In his spare time he enjoys participating in crossfit, playing basketball and softball, and traveling.
Kelly Rausch, PA-C
Kelly graduated from Barry University with a Master of Clinical Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies, and received her Bachelor of Science in Education: Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Georgia. Her current Florida Physician Assistant Licensure includes NCCPA Certification CPR/AED, ACLS and PALS Certifications. Kelly formerly worked as a Physician Assistant at Florida Pediatrics/Fountainhead Practice Management at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. She is a member of Florida Academy of Physician Assistants and the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
Amanda Connor, PA-C
Amanda has worked at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in Pediatric Trauma/Surgery since April 2012. She graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Zoology from the University of Florida in 2009. She received her Master's Degree in the Medical Sciences and Physician Assistant Studies from Barry University in 2011. Amanda has been involved in several medical research studies at the University of Florida, including hypertension research through the Pharmcodynamics department and reproductive studies research in the Zoology Department. She is nationally board certified as a Physician Assistant by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. She is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Florida Association of Physician Assistants. In her spare time she enjoys watching UF football, going to the beach, traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Paul J. Kainec, PA-C, EMT-P
Paul has worked as a board-certified Physician Assistant at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital since 2006 with the combined Pediatric Surgery/Trauma service. He graduated with honors from Tri-C’s surgical physician assistant program in 2006. He received his B.S. in biology from the University of South Florida in 2000. In addition, he received an A.S. in emergency medical services from St. Petersburg College in 1995. Prior to his career as a physician assistant, Paul spent 10 years working as a field paramedic and emergency medical dispatcher for Sunstar Emergency Medical Services here in Pinellas County. During that tenure, he also trained both new EMT’s and paramedics to Sunstar as well as perspective students from St. Petersburg College. Paul is currently a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Surgical Physician Assistants, and the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, sports, music, and spending time with family and friends.
Kelsey Grant, ARNP
Kelsey Grant, A.R.N.P. joined the Pediatric Surgery department at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in November 2015. She has been with Johns Hopkins All Children’s for nine years caring for complex congenital heart patients as well as patients with normal cardiac anatomy requiring ECMO for various reasons.
Kelsey graduated from University of South Florida with a Master of Science and also earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. Petersburg College.
Kelsey is the Heart Center Preceptor Committee Chair at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and also a Preceptor Advisory Group member.
Sara M. Lefkowitz, ARNP
A native to the Tampa Bay area, Sara began her career in healthcare as a paramedic, receiving an associate degree in EMS from St. Petersburg College in 2000. She has been serving the people of Pinellas County ever since. Sara went on to receive her ADN, also from St. Petersburg College, in 2003, and began her tenure at Johns Hopkins All Children's as a nurse in the Cardiovascular ICU in 2004. She further expanded her role as a specialty nurse with the Critical Care Transport Team in 2006. After completing her master's degree from the University of South Florida in 2007, Sara began working with the Pediatric Trauma/Surgery Service as an advanced practice nurse. Sara is double boarded as a pediatric nurse practitioner by the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and as a family nurse practitioner by American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Sara continues her work with the Transport Team, and remains active with the local emergency medical services.
Tiffany S. Wroe, ARNP
Tiffany has worked at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in Pediatric Trauma/Surgery since May 2012. She graduated with her Bachelor's degree from University of Southern Indiana in 2000. She received her Master's degree in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program at the University of South Florida in 2011. Her previous nursing experience includes pediatric intensive care, pediatric cardiac intensive care, as well as general medical surgical pediatrics where she served as a charge nurse. She has received her certifications as certified pediatric nurse as well as certified pediatric critical care nurse through The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. She worked at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital of Tampa for 12 years prior to coming on board to the Johns Hopkins All Children's Trauma/Surgery team. She is nationally board certified as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner by The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, and is a member of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her two children and husband, sporting events, running, and outdoor activities.
Alissa Zaharis, MS, CPNP-BC
Alissa Zaharis joined the pediatric surgery nursing program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in 2016. She has more than a decade of pediatric nursing experience.
She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of South Florida in 2—3 and a Masters of Science in nursing from University of South Florida in 2013.
Alissa is a member of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.
Joy Perkins, RRT, RN - Coordinator, Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Program
Joy Perkins started her career in healthcare as a respiratory therapist in 1999 at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. In 2001, she moved to Gainesville and began working as a neonatal/pediatric respiratory therapist at UF Health and quickly became involved with the ECMO program. In 2003, she began transporting patients with ShandsCair. During her time on the transport team, Joy returned to school and earned her Associate of Science in Nursing from Santa Fe College in 2011. During her time at UF Health, Joy developed a passion for the care of children with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). In 2012, she became the coordinator for the congenital diaphragmatic hernia program at UF Health. Joy joined Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital as the coordinator of the congenital diaphragmatic hernia program in January 2016. In this role, she serves as healthcare liaison for families of children with CDH, provides education to staff regarding the care of CDH patients and coordinates care for CDH patients from initial consultation through post discharge follow-up.
Joy is married with 2 sons and 3 dogs. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with family, attend concerts and athletic events and spend time on the water. She is also finishing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Florida and will graduate in August.
Appointments and More Information
For more information, visit Pediatric General Surgery. To make an appointment or to ask questions, please call (727) -767-4170.