Photo by Erik Kellar
Class of 2014 honoree Dr. Emily Ptaszek’s career has been devoted to mental health care. As a psychologist, she has worked with patients in both private and institutional settings.
These days, Ptaszek has moved out of her clinical role into top leadership as the recently installed CEO of the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida. There she’s overseeing major expansions to its physical presence and services to provide quality and affordable healthcare in the community.
Ptaszek, who earned a doctorate in psychology from Loyola University Maryland, began seeing adults and children in 2007 at a Fort Myers practice. A few years later, Ptaszek became the staff psychologist at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Cape Coral, where she specialized in treating posttraumatic stress disorder.
About six-and-a-half years ago, Ptaszek joined the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida as director of behavioral health /chief psychologist. The organization provides services to a rural, underserved population at multiple adult and pediatric sites throughout Collier County in a Federally Qualified Health Service Center setting. The not-for-profit healthcare network is also a teaching site for medical students and postdoctoral Health Psychology Fellows of Florida State University College of Medicine.
In 2014, she was promoted to vice president and chief operating officer, a position she held until June, when she was tapped to lead the network upon the retirement of longtime CEO Mike Ellis. The transition also meant that Ptaszek would lead the final charge to complete Nichols Community Health Center, the network’s new 50,000 square-foot primary-health care facility in Golden Gate, slated for opening this spring.
The Nichols Community Health Center will serve the 36,000 residents who live in Golden Gate. In 2018, Healthcare Network’s doctors, dentists, nurses and psychologists saw more than 51,000 patients with 215,000 patient visits.
“The sheer number of patients who come to us continues to rise,” Ptaszek says.
The network also employs case managers who serve residents of the county who are not able to visit the networks’ various clinics. “We have to find ways to treat people outside of our four walls,” she says.
All of that keeps Ptaszek very busy, although she has managed to squeeze in some continuing education: She’s two classes away from earning her MBA from Florida Atlantic University.