Offering Compassionate, Individualized Care
A caring staff is an essential ingredient to a successful and long-lasting recovery. Our addiction care team is composed of highly credentialed experts and experienced at understanding all the nuances of substance abuse and addiction recovery. At Unity Behavioral Health, our staff is attentive, understanding and accommodating. We know that each patient requires individualized care, and we work tirelessly to build our treatment strategies around each patient’s specific needs. The compassionate touch that our staff offers enables us to communicate with our patients more closely and to more effectively determine their recovery needs.
Jason Ackner – CEO / Founder
In 2008, Jason realized that he enjoyed what he was doing in Real Estate Development but really wanted to make a difference in the world by helping those in need. Jason found a natural calling in the drug and alcohol rehabilitation business due to family history of struggles along with a deep personal passion. Jason quickly realized that the existing rehab industry had great room for improvement in the quality and type of services that were provided at the time.
Jason believes that if you always do the right thing, no matter what; that God will take care of the rest. He is a proud father of 6 wonderful children and is an advocate both locally and nationally for those that are unable to help themselves. Jason frequently does charity throughout the year and strives to be able to give away more of what he has been so blessed to receive.
Joseph C. Monastra – B.E., M.ED, LMHC(I) – Chief Operating Officer
Joseph C. Monastra has been chief operating officer for Unity Behavioral Health since April 2016. He is responsible for all operations functions, which encompasses oversight of non-clinical functions, including dietary, environment of care, health information management, human resources, purchasing and contract administration. Joseph has more than 24 years of executive management experience working within the addiction treatment and behavioral health sectors.
Joseph is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and in addition to extensive education in finance and business administration, holds a Master of Education in mental health counseling from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and a Bachelor of Engineering in electrical engineering and computer science from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Dr. Mark Hernandez – Medical Director
Dr. Hernandez received his medical degree from the Instituto Technologico de Santo Domingo, in the Dominican republic in 1989, at the age of 24. In 1990 he came to the United States and worked his way up from crisis counselor to administrator at a community mental health center, supervising over 300 employees, while preparing for medical exams. After passing medical exams he completed his residency program in psychiatry at Jackson Memorial Hospital, University of Miami in 2002, and was Chief Resident in Psychiatry from 2001 to 2002.
Soon after graduation, Dr. Hernandez had three different private practices and gained much experience in diagnosing and treating adults as well as geriatrics with depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, adjustment disorders, psychotic disorders, and other psychiatric conditions. Dr. Hernandez also has vast experience in the field of substance abuse. He has been medical director at multiple programs since 2002; developing tremendous experience in dual diagnosis treatment of clients with substance abuse related disorders, including detoxification treatment for multiple substances.
Stacy Ackner – Executive Director
After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida, Stacy began working at Unity in 2009. Starting in Community Outreach, then transitioning to Director of Operations and managing the Admissions team, Stacy quickly began to develop a strength for identifying client needs and ensuring that each and every client received an extraordinary treatment experience. As the Executive Director, Stacy takes tremendous pride in the atmosphere that has been built here at Unity. Continually seeking to evolve and improve Unity is one of Stacy’s primary objectives.
Dr. Karen Dodge, PhD, MSPH, MSW – Executive Director of Neuro Behavioral Services
Dr. Dodge is the Director of NeuroRehabilitation at Unity Behavioral Health
She is also Research Faculty at the Charles E. Schmidt School of Science; Department of Complex Systems and Brain Sciences.
Dr. Dodge’s work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed Journals, most recently, Nature: Genetics. (2018), Journal of Addictive Disorders and their treatment (2017), Journal of Drug Issues (2012), Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment Prevention and Policy (2016), the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (2011), and John’s Hopkins Journal of Health for the Poor and Underserved (2009).
Dr. Dodge has conducted and published pioneering studies in the specific areas of The Effectiveness of Female-Sensitive Substance Abuse Treatment as compared to Traditional Mixed Gender Models. The impact of Therapist Client Congruence on Chemical Dependency Treatment Outcomes and Why HIV Women of Color Who are Substance Abusers and Aware of their HIV Status elect not to seek Primary Health Care or Substance Abuse Treatment. This work has yielded ground breaking changes in the treatment delivery for chemically dependent females as evidenced by a local provider; The Orchids treatment procedures.
Commencing in 2012, Dr. Dodge was the Co-Principal investigator of a five year study collaborating with the University of Miami, Scripts Research Institute and the University of New Mexico’s Mind Research Network to examine the interface between non-coding RNA’s and brain images (SPECT scans) to diagnosis addiction and develop novel therapeutics to address such diagnosis. Finally, these blood bio markers and SPECT images are being explored as Prognosticative tools to predict relapse.
Current, Dr. Dodge is in partnership as a co-investigator, with Drs. Paul Kenny and Alexander Smith from Mt. Sinai Icahn School of Medicine on a NIH R21 to investigate the intersect between non-coding mRNAs (genetics) and brain function &efficiency.
David Gibbs – Clinical Director LMHC, CAP
David as the Clinical Director joins the Unity Team with more than 25 plus years of experience in the field of mental health and addiction. David is Licensed Mental Health Counselor as well as a Certified Addiction Professional. David’s approach, is one that is dynamic and creative. More importantly, David uses a practical solution focused approach to bring about the greatest opportunity for change for the client’s he serves. This creative solution focused approach is reflected in his self-published book Humbug to Happiness; Breaking the Chains of the Past.
David has joined Unity as a result of the affinity espoused within the treatment vision and Unity’s mission to provide superior client care. A philosophy that embraces and encourages all the advancements made in the field of addiction today that promote recovery for all clients. An approach that addresses the mind, body and spirit of an individual by bridging the traditional message of the 12 step program, evidenced-based practices, and the researched efficacy of neuro science. This unique approach, can and will bring about long – term change.
Jennifer Pichardo – Director Of Nursing, MHA, BSN, RN
Jen was born in Durham, NC and moved down to Florida to attend nursing school and also ended up finding and marrying her wonderful husband, David. Jen joins the Unity team with over 15 years of experience in the healthcare field, both as a staff nurse and Director of Nursing. Jen is a Registered Nurse and also completed her BSN degree from Western Governors University and a Master’s Degree in Health Administration and Policy from the Medical University of South Carolina, and her first Bachelor’s degree is a Bachelors in Recreation Therapy from East Carolina University giving her a very solid background for working in the Behavioral Health field. Jen currently lives in Port Saint Lucie with her family, including her husband, 2 children and 2 dogs. She loves being a mother and wife and in her spare time, dancing, working in the yard, and going to the gym.
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