SAINT PETERBURG, Fla. – Bayfront Health Saint Petersburg employs dozens of veterans, team members who earned their status as “Frontline Heroes” years before combating COVID-19.
They work within multiple departments and in several capacities. Three decided to share their stories in honor of Veteran’s Day- Jeffrey Johnson, MD is the Trauma Medical Director and a proud Air Force Veteran that has been with Bayfront Health St. Petersburg since he left the service in 2009, Jennyfer Flores is a Registered Nurse who has been at the hospital for six years, and Valery Peters is the Coordinator for the Stroke Program.
Dr. Johnson started his military career in 1983, flying special operations low level flights. By 2000, he had completed his medical training and was running a Surgical ICU for the Air Force. Shortly after September 11th, Dr. Johnson was tapped by the Surgeon General to help start the Centers for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (CSTARS) program at one of the busiest trauma centers in the country.
He then served as the Surgeon General of the Air Force’s Chief Consultant for Trauma & Critical Care Operations. He was awarded the bronze medal for his work in Iraq and the bronze star for his work in Afghanistan. In 2009 Dr. Johnson was promoted to full Colonel and retired shortly afterwards to go work at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.
Dr. Johnson shared, “The military taught me to be calm under very adverse conditions, to lead by example, to call for help when you can but understand that help is not always available, and so you always do the best you can.” Now he enjoys working with a group of professionals who are like family and the immediate feedback that trauma surgery brings. “Seeing someone return to work, family, school or life in general after a horrific accident is a great feeling.”
Jennyfer Flores served in the Army at Fort Irwin in California as a Neurology, Biology, Chemistry (NBC) Specialist before becoming a Registered Nurse and joining Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. She now works in the Neurology unit and has been at the hospital for six years. Jennifyer is grateful for her time in the army because it taught her the value of integrity which she believes helps her to be a better nurse.
“Helping people is the best part of my job. You never get tired of that feeling,” Jennifer shared. “I also enjoy educating patients and their families about different things. It feels good knowing that you taught someone something about their health.” Once, a patient was experiencing a seizure and Jennifer suggested that the doctors search for a blood clot, even before they knew it could possibly be there. The doctors were able to locate it and save the patient. The ability to positively impact another’s life is the reason she does what she does.
Valery Peters started her career as a clerk for a Naval Air station in Pensacola, Florida. She served for four years before deciding to go back to school and study program management. Valery credits her military service for teaching her how to lead by example and for helping her to understand people better. She now works at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg as the Stroke Program Coordinator and has been in that role for two and a half years.
“I enjoy working with like-minded people who are dedicated to others in the community. I am surrounded by people that are dedicated to improving our community,” said Valery. “The best thing is when you hear a patient or a patient’s family tell you how much you impacted their life. I am able to improve the overall health and improve their lives and it feels good to know that I was a part of such an important process. It also feels comforting knowing that I was able to support loved ones experiencing grief or recovery.”
Bayfront Health St. Petersburg is proud of its veteran team members, grateful for the service, and appreciative of the unique contributions that veterans bring to their roles.