The PERC Team
The one key ingredient that makes a place GREAT is the people. And PERC is no different. The one aspect of our hospital that we are most proud of is our staff. We have staff members that serve a variety of roles to keep our hospital running smoothly and most importantly, keep the care of our patients of the highest quality. Here you can navigate to learn about the life blood that keeps PERC ticking and the wonderful hands that will care for your pet.
Dr Thomas was born in Key West, Florida while his father was serving at Key West NAS; and his family bounced around various locations while his father flew for the US Navy until ultimately settling in Wellington, Florida where he spent middle school and high school. He attended Vanderbilt University on a scholarship from the US Navy, where he graduated with a BA in Communication Studies. After college, Dr. Thomas served in the Navy where he taught flight students, crew safety, and survival swimming to pilots and crew. Eventually he got certified as a US Army Veterinary Technician which ultimately led him down his current path.
He was honorably discharged from the Navy and went across "the pond" to veterinary school at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London (the second oldest Vet school in the world and first to ever work on dogs and cats). After graduating from the Royal Veterinary College, he and his wife moved back to Stuart, Florida and started working in Ft Pierce at an emergency and referral center as an ER Doctor. About 4 years later, he and Dr Hanson purchased PERC where he is currently the director of Emergency medicine. Dr Thomas enjoys emergency medicine and soft tissue surgery with an emphasis on acute disease and trauma. He has limited experience in large animal practice and exotics, and worked a short time at a small zoo. He is a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS). In his very limited free time, Dr Thomas loves to travel with his family and surf. He also enjoys guitar, music, comic books and fictional adventure.
Dr. Steve Hanson
Dr. Hanson completed his undergraduate degree at Boston College in Massachusetts. He earned his doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree at Virginia Tech and then went on to complete a general small animal internship at Tufts University, and then a surgical internship and a three year surgical residency at a specialty practice in Orlando, bringing him to sunny Florida. Upon completion of his surgical residency, Dr. Hanson and his wife moved to South Florida where he started a practice limited to referral surgery that eventually became the referral surgery service here at PERC.
Dr. Hanson has much additional training and expertise in complex soft tissue surgeries dealing with any aspect of the body including the liver, heart, lungs, urogenital tract, reproductive tract, and nearly all aspects of the canine and feline anatomy. He also routinely performs a vast array of orthopedic surgeries such as bone fracture repair, angular limb deformities, luxated joints, and the all too common cruciate and patellar injuries and disease performing procedures such as TPLOs and TTAs.
In his spare time, Dr. Hanson tries to get out on the water and spend time with his lovely wife and his pitbull whom he adopted after saving him from a gunshot injury to the neck many years back.
Dr. Kersten Johnson
Dr. Kersten Johnson is a native Floridian and grew up in North Palm Beach, Florida. She received her undergraduate and masters degrees from Auburn University. She attended the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine to receive her doctorate in veterinary medicine in 2003. She continued her training in small animal medicine and surgery during an internship at University of Pennsylvania. Following her internship program, Dr. Johnson combined a strong interest in medical neurology and surgery by completing a 3-year residency at University of Pennsylvania in neurology and neurosurgery. After completing her residency, she returned to South Florida to work in private practice. She recently started Florida Veterinary Neurology. Dr. Johnson is a board certified specialist as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine-Specialty of Neurology. Dr. Johnson and her team are dedicated to providing unmatched medical and neurosurgical care for companion animals in South Florida.
Dr. Beth Lechner
Dr. Beth Lechner-Hines (Dr. Lechner) grew up in the Chicago area and moved to Columbia, MO to attend undergraduate and veterinary school at the University of Missouri. She continued to move south for her rotating internship and 3 year internal medicine residency at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. After completing her residency, she decided that she did not miss shoveling snow and moved to South Florida, where she has lived since 2010. She recently founded South Florida Veterinary Internal Medicine, LLC and joined the PERC family in April 2018.
Dr. Lechner is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. In human medicine, an internal medicine doctor is usually a primary care provider. However, in veterinary medicine, internal medicine is a specialty. As a board-certified internal medicine specialist, Dr. Lechner sees a wide variety of cases involving a multitude of organ systems and diseases including, but not limited to, renal (kidney) disease, diabetes, endocrine disease, blood disorders, cancer, lung disease, immune-mediated disorders, infectious diseases, and gastrointestinal disease. She utilizes a number of techniques to evaluate her patients, including specialized blood tests, ultrasound, endoscopy (upper GI endoscopy, colonoscopy, bronchoscopy, rhinoscopy, cystoscopy), bone marrow biopsy, airway sampling, and limited echocardiography. Dr. Lechner and her team strive to provide exemplary medical care while giving owners answers to questions about their sick pets. Their goal is to optimize quality of life and to enhance the relationships between owners and their pets.
In her off-time, Dr. Lechner enjoys spending time with her husband and new baby. They have a big furry (and not furry) family including 2 dogs (Schmitty MacDougal and Reagan), 2 cats (Dexter and Delilah), and a tortoise (Estelle).
Dr. Kara Fiore
Dr. Fiore grew up in Palm Beach Gardens and received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Florida Atlantic University. She then attended veterinary school at the University of Florida. Following graduation,
Dr. Fiore completed a private practice rotating internship and residency in small animal surgery. Dr. Fiore became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (board certified surgeon) in 2006.
Dr. Fiore previously worked as a clinical surgery instructor at the University of Florida and worked at a large private practice referral hospital in Orlando for 12 years. She has recently relocated to South Florida and she joined the staff at PERC in July 2018.
Dr. Fiore’s surgical interests focus on all forms of soft tissue surgery including gastrointestinal, urinary, and respiratory procedures as well as complicated reconstructive and oncologic surgeries.
Outside of work, Dr. Fiore loves to spend time with her family and enjoys outdoor activities of all varieties.
Dr. Michael West
Dr. West, a Palm Beach County native, attended Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas to start off his undergraduate studies; but when his NCAA baseball career was cut short he moved back to Florida earning his B.S. degree in Biology from Florida Atlantic University. From there it was off to University of Florida for veterinary training, receiving his DVM in 2011. While at University of Florida, Dr. West completed several externships to include a scholarshipped, intensive externship at Disney's Animal Kingdom and The Living Seas in Orlando, Florida and two emergency externships at Florida Veterinary Specialists and Cancer Treatment (FVS) in Tampa and at Pet Emergency & Referral Center (PERC) here in Palm Beach Gardens. It was during this externship at PERC that Dr. West met and began correspondence with Dr. Thomas and Dr. Hanson. After graduation, Dr. West completed a small animal internship at Hollywood Animal Hospital (HAH) in Hollywood, Florida which had a heavy emphasis on emergency medicine. Immediately following his completion of his internship in Hollywood, Dr. West joined the ER team at PERC and has been an integral part of the team since 2012.
Dr. West has interest in and performs all aspects of emergency and critical care medicine, emergency surgery, and also conducts both emergency and non-emergency scoping procedures including esophagogastroduodenscopy, rhinoscopy, and bronchoscopy.
In his off time, Dr. West spends time on the water kayaking, SUPing, and boating with his fiancée, Crystal and his dog Tuna, who is an avid paddleboarder. Dr. West is accompanied at home (and sometimes in the office) by his Jack Russell Terrier, Tuna and his medium haired calico cat, Tinkerbell. He also maintains a coral reef in his living room starring his Royal Gramma of nearly 8 years named Barack Ogramma.
Dr. Cristina Portus
Dr. Cristina Portus was raised in Florida and attended the University of Florida where she earned her Bachelor of Science degrees in both animal science and wildlife ecology and conservation. After her undergraduate studies, she worked as a veterinary technician for four years. During that time, she further realized her passion for veterinary medicine. In 2010, Dr. Portus received her doctorate degree in veterinary medicine from Western University of Health Sciences. After graduation, she furthered her training by completing a one-year small animal emergency and medicine internship. Dr. Portus has been practicing emergency medicine in South Florida for six years. In 2014 she joined the PERC team full time. Her special interests include soft tissue wound healing and pain management. In her free time, Dr. Portus enjoys spending time with her husband David, two young daughters Hazel and Hannah, her three cats, and Chiweenie, Jane Doe.
Dr. Kelly Sando
Dr. Sando is originally from Maryland. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Rochester and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. Following graduation, she moved down to South Florida and completed a small animal internship at Hollywood Animal Hospital with a heavy emphasis on emergency medicine. Upon completion of her internship, she worked in primary care practice for a few years, including making house calls before joining the emergency team here at PERC for a faster pace of practice.
In her off time she spends her time with her husband and two kids along with her dog Beau, an Australian shepherd and two cats.
Dr. Amanda Miller
Dr. Amanda Miller-Koerner was born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey. She is a 2011 graduate of Auburn University's college of Veterinary Medicine where she received the distinguished American College of Veterinary Medicine Clinical Excellence Award. She has worked in both emergency & critical care and primary care/general practice since her graduation. Her professional interests include trauma stabilization and critical care medicine. In the equine world, Dr. Miller is an avid show jumper and is owned by two horses in addition to several cats and dogs. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and tending to all her fury friends.
Dr. Armando Acosta
Doctor Acosta joined the PERC team back in 2011, initially working as a veterinary technician and then as a surgical intern under Dr. Hanson. He came to the United States from his home country of Venezuela in 2000 but was not yet licensed to practice in the United States. But after passing the ECFVG/AVMA, the North American Veterinary License Examination (NAVLE), and the Florida State License Examination in 2017 he is now officially one of our ER veterinarians.
Doctor Acosta brings a unique perspective and experience to our practice as well as various special interests and valuable communication skills. Dr. Acosta excels in the fields of soft tissue surgery, dentistry, and maxillofacial surgery. He is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and English and comes from a research and equine background from the Central University of Venezuela (Universidad Central de Venezuela).
In his spare time, Dr. Acosta spends time with his wife and two children as well as his dog Mily and his cat Marvin who are best friends. He has a passion for playing music, especially latin percussion and guitar as well as for drawing, painting, and baseball.
Pet Emergency & Referral Center
3579 Northlake Blvd.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33403
24/7 Main Line: 561-691-9999
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