Donna Franco, RPA

Physician Assistant

Donna Franco is an expert in the field of bariatric surgery. She leads a team of physician assistants at the New York Bariatric Group. Prior to working at New York Bariatric Group, she worked with various surgeons in multiple fields of surgery in a hospital setting. She has worked with bariatric patients for the past 20 years and feels fortunate to be able to assist patients on their weight loss journey. Patients are likely to meet Donna during both the pre-op and post-op process as she provides guidance towards achieving their weight loss goals.

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Eva Pilchman

PA-C, MS

Eva Pilchman has been with the practice since 2012. She received her Bachelor of Science in diagnostic genetic sciences from the University of Connecticut and Master of Science degree in physician assistant studies from Hofstra University.

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Kelly Emmert

PA

Kelly is a native of Texas, received her Bachelor's of Science from Austin College in Sherman, Texas in 2011. She subsequently obtained her Masters of Physician Assistant studies from New York Institute of Technology in 2015.

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Julia Bassi

PA-C, MSHS

Julia Bassi is a board-certified physician assistant specializing in bariatric and robotic surgery. Julia was born and raised on Long Island. She is licensed in New York and works mostly out of our Islandia office.

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Jen Weston

PA-C, MSPAS, MS, RDN

Jen Weston is a board-certified Physician Assistant and Registered Dietitian. She completed her undergraduate education in Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. Jen holds a Masters of Science in Human Nutrition from Tufts University.

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Willo Wisotsky

PhD

Dr. Willo Wisotsky is a NY State Licensed Psychologist who received her Clinical Health Ph.D. from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University. Dr. Wisotsky is a faculty member at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, and Suffolk Community College. Dr. Wisotsky has committed her research and clinical practice to the field of eating disorders and obesity with its related medical and mental health comorbidities.

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Natania Ostrovsky

PhD

Dr. Natania Ostrovsky is a clinical psychologist licensed in both New York and Connecticut. She received her PhD in Clinical Health Psychology from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University. She has both a clinical and research background in health psychology with a focus on cognitive behavioral therapy, improving health behaviors, and obesity.

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Sharon George

Sharon George

MS, RD, CDN

Sharon George is one of the most experienced bariatric surgery nutritionists in the country. She joined New York Bariatric Group over 10 years ago, and thrives on helping patients with obesity to reach their weight loss goals. Guided by a strong desire for education, Sharon completed 2 bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree with honors. In addition to working with patients, Sharon writes as a nutrition expert. She has been published in OH Magazine and Bariatrics Today. Sharon will be an important part of your journey regardless of which weight loss procedure or treatment option you choose.

Joseph R. Gaudio

MD

Dr. Gaudio is a board certified anesthesiologist. He works with the surgeons to ensure every patient has a safe and comfortable experience during their bariatric procedure. With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Gaudio works with patients who choose surgical procedures such as the band, bypass, or sleeve, as well as those who choose a non-surgical approach like the weight loss balloon.

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Gregory J. Schilero

MD

Dr. Schilero received an M.S. degree from Tufts University and his M.D. from Hahnemann University. Dr. Schilero performed his medical residency and fellowship at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, with subspecialty boards in Pulmonary Disease, Critical Care Medicine, and Sleep Medicine. After completing his fellowship in Pulmonary Medicine, Dr. Schilero remained at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine for four years as the Associate Director for the Lung and Heart/Lung Transplantation program and the Sleep Center at Mount Sinai.

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Shara Lazar

RD

Shara Lazar has spent many years counseling patients with varied health concerns including renal failure, hypertension, and diabetes. It was those experiences that lead her on a path to help people reduce the risk of developing these health concerns and improve the quality of their lives. She joined NYBG with 8 years of bariatric nutrition expertise and is also extremely passionate about fitness. She will help you to integrate both nutrition and exercise into your life with a practical approach and continuous support.

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Sarah Kennedy-Etheridge

Sarah Kennedy-Etheridge

PA-C, MHS

Sarah joined NYBG in 2019 after receiving her Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Quinnipiac University. Prior to becoming a board-certified Physician Assistant, Sarah received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science Studies from Quinnipiac University in 2017.

Dr. Roberta Lenner

Dr. Roberta Lenner

Pulmonologist

Dr. Roberta Lenner graduated from the University of Pecs Medical and Health Sciences Centre, Hungary in 1991. She relocated to the United States to complete a residency in internal medicine at Greenwich Hospital and Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut, where she developed an interest in pulmonary physiology. She completed her fellowship at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where she delved into researching pulmonary disease and its relation to critical body functions.

Dr. Lenner served as Director of Emergency Department, and as Pulmonary and Critical Care Attending at James J. Peters Medical Center in Bronx, NY. She was then appointed as Associate Director of the hospital’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit and Director of Pulmonary Outpatient Clinics. Dr. Lenner has presented at conferences as well as published in multiple academic journals and abstracts focused on respiratory treatments. Her research with the Bronx VA and Mount Sinai Hospital has led to several publications and has distinguished her as a leader in her field.

Dr. Lenner has been an active fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians since 1996.

Lavinia Couture

PA-C

Lavinia Couture is a board-certified Physician Assistant specializing in bariatric, general and robotic surgery. Lavinia was born and raised in Bergen County, New Jersey. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2015.

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Sharon Meltzer

PA-C, RD

Sharon completed her undergraduate education at Syracuse University earning a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition/Dietetics and worked in clinical nutrition for seven years. Sharon completed her Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies from Pace University – Lenox Hill Hospital Physician Assistant Program and started practicing bariatric and general surgery with Ballem Surgical in 2013.

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Deborah Sforza

Deborah Sforza

RD, CDN

Deborah is a registered dietitian with experience in Bariatrics, Diabetes, Obstetrics, and Gynecology, Orthopedics, and Oncology. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Food, Nutrition, and Exercise Science from Queens College and an Associates in Science from SUNY Farmingdale. She also serves as a bariatric coordinator and chief clinical dietitian for the former Long Island Bariatric, PLLC, in Riverhead, now a part of NYBG. She has been a bariatrician for the last fourteen years of her twenty-eight-years long career in nutrition and dietetics.

Eden Bessaleli

Eden Bessaleli

MSPAS, PA-C

Eden Bessaleli is a board-certified physician assistant who received her Master's of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Touro College of Health Sciences. After completing her surgical rotation at NYBG in 2019, Eden discovered her profound interest in laparoscopic surgery and in helping others achieve their weight loss goals. This interest led Eden to return to NYBG in 2020 for an extended advanced training clinical rotation, where she continued to train with and learn from the doctors and PAs at NYBG. After earning her master's degree, Eden returned to NYBG full-time to be part of the team - where she is assisting in surgery and seeing patients in the office for pre- and post-op care.

Emily Meyer

Emily Meyer

MSPAS, PA-C

Emily is a board-certified Physician Assistant specializing in bariatric surgery. She completed her Master’s of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). Before starting PA school, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biobehavioral Health from The Pennsylvania State University.

Karen Sanchez

Karen Sanchez

PA

I completed my Bachelor of Science degree at Stony Brook University on Long Island. I then obtained my Masters of Physician Assistant Studies at Marist College in 2020.

Sarah Siegler

Sarah Siegler

Registered Dietitian

Sarah has been a Registered Dietitian since 2015 after completing her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics and completing her Dietetic Internship at North Shore University Hospital. Sarah continued her career at NSUH and went on to specialize in Critical Care, Heart Failure, and Heart Transplant Nutrition and is a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC). During this time, she gained a passion for helping to prevent illness through positive diet and lifestyle changes. Sarah is certified in Adult Weight Management by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. She joined the NYBG team in 2020.

Tamar Joseph

Tamar Joseph

MSPAS, PA-C

Tamar, born and raised in Bergen County, NJ, received her Bachelor of Science from Yeshiva University and then completed her Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies from Pace University- Lenox Hill Hospital Physician Assistant Program. Prior to joining NYBG, Tamar worked in the General Surgery department at Mount Sinai Hospital and is now practicing mainly in our Wayne, NJ location. With her outgoing personality and empathetic nature, Tamar is looking forward to working together with her patients to improve their quality of life!

Mariya Mayer

Mariya Mayer

MSPAS, PA-C

Mariya is a board-certified Physician Assistant specializing in Bariatric Surgery. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance and Premedical Studies with minors in Biology and Chemistry at the City College of New York. After graduation, Mariya accepted a research assistant position at the Wallace H. Coulter Laboratory for Cardiovascular Dynamics and Biomolecular Transport, where she explored new therapeutic targets for the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Maryia’s strong interest in medicine and biomedical research motivated her to pursue the Physician Assistant profession. She received a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant studies with high honors from Stony Brook University and was inducted into the Alpha Eta Health Professionals Honor Society. At NYBG, Mariya leans on her experience in biomedical research to provide the patients with the most recent, evidence-based information while ensuring all patients are treated with empathy, integrity, and compassion.

Chelsea Freeman

Chelsea Freeman

PA-C, M.S.

Chelsea Freeman is a board-certified physician assistant who trained at Seton Hall University by earning Bachelor' Degree in Biology and Master' Degree in Physician Assistant studies. Initially, she began working in orthopedic surgery in 2020, with a specialization in sports medicine. In a variety of clinical settings, she intricately treated and rehabilitated patients with personalized treatment plans. She grew her ability to skillfully assist in the operating room.

In 2022, Chelsea joined New York Bariatric Group to pursue her passion as a physician assistant in general, bariatric, and colorectal surgery. She focuses on minimally invasive techniques, including robotic surgery, and supports patients with medical weight loss management. Chelsea is committed to excellent patient-centered care and enjoys supporting patients throughout their wellness journeys.

Tess Dokmanovich

Tess Dokmanovich

PA-C

Tess Dokmanovich is a board-certified physician assistant specializing in Bariatric Surgery. she received her Masters of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. As a Connecticut native, Tess is excited to serve her local community and provide the highest quality of patient care throughout your weight loss journey.

Alaa Barbour

Alaa Barbour

PA-C, MSPAS

Alaa Barbour is a board-certified physician assistant specializing in bariatric surgery and medical weight loss management. She received her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Saint Elizabeth University. Before starting PA school, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Anthropology at Saint Peter's University. After completing her general surgery and her elective bariatric surgery rotation, Alaa discovered her interest in laparoscopic procedures. She grew an even stronger interest in health and wellness.  Alaa is ready to work closely with patients pre-operatively and post-operatively to help her patients attain their personal weight loss and health goals through dietary counseling, nutritional education, and support.

Kesi Penny

Kesi Penny

PA-C

Born and Raised in NJ, Kesi Penny received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from the College of Saint Elizabeth in 2016. She returned to Saint Elizabeth University to receive her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies in 2021. She has been practicing with NYBG since July of 2022. Kesi’s favorite aspect of the job are the transformations. “The best part of the job is discussing the activities that our patients can get back to doing as a result of their transformations, thing most people take for granted.” She is excited to continue her career with NYBG and assist in many more transformations.

Lita Brown

Lita Brown

PA-C

Lita Brown is a board-certified physician assistant specializing in bariatric surgery and pharmacological weight management. She was born and raised in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences, and in 2009 with a Master of Science degree in Cell and Developmental Biology. She then completed her Physician Assistant studies at Salus University in 2011.

Lita initially began working for Ballem Surgical, where she discovered a fondness for all aspects of bariatric and general surgery. She subsequently worked several years in orthopedic surgery which further developed her patient care skills and meticulousness in the operating room. Lita returned to her passion for bariatric surgery and joined NYBG in 2020. She is committed to providing the best possible care throughout your weight loss and wellness journey.

Mary Horan

Mary Horan

PA-C

Mary is a board-certified physician assistant that started with NYBG Plastic Surgery in early 2022. She received her Master's Degree in Physician Assistant Studies at Touro College of Health Sciences in 2021 after receiving her undergraduate degree in Integrative Neuroscience at SUNY Binghamton in 2017.  Mary has been working in plastic surgery since the start of her career and has a passion for not only assisting in the operating room, but her patients post operative recoveries! As a Long Island native, she is happy to be serving her community.

Cassandra Burba

Cassandra Burba

PA-C, MPAS

Cassandra Burba is a board-certified Physician Assistant specializing in plastic surgery. She completed her Bachelor's Degree in Biology at Virginia Tech before receiving her Master's Degree in Physician Assistant Studies at South University, Richmond campus. Prior to joining NYBG she worked in burn and reconstructive surgery in her home state of Virginia.

Dana Chan

Dana Chan

PA-C

Dana, born and raised in Queens, NY, is a board-certified Physician Assistant. She completed her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) in 2021. Prior to becoming a PA, she attended St. John’s University and received her Bachelor of Science in Toxicology. Before joining NYBG in 2022, Dana worked in vascular surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital. She is excited to work closely with patients and make a positive impact on their lives.

Thomas

Lost 145lbs

Thomas' success story

I went in for surgery. An hour later, I came out a new man.

Everybody treated me like a king. The day of surgery, I was excited. The hospital couldn’t be any nicer. I went in for surgery. An hour later, I came out a new man. My recovery was awesome. I was out of bed that day. My wife and kids were my motivation on getting this surgery. They are my whole life. I’m happy I’m going to be around for them.

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Nicole

Lost 76lbs

Nicole's success story

I hit my goal weight ... and I feel fabulous

I had the gastric bypass. I am Type 2 Diabetic and I wanted to gain control of my sugar. I hit my goal weight in about 5 and half months and I feel fabulous. The procedure has completely changed my life for the better because it has empowered me as a middle aged woman that I can really do everything and anything that I want to do. I don't put an age on anything. I don't say I'm too old for something.

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Robert

Lost 76lbs

Robert's success story

I was tired of the way I looked. I was tired of the way I felt.

I knew if I didn't change something soon, I was going to be in a lot of trouble. The consultation process was a lot easier than I expected. I was met with open arms. I was treated like I was the only patient here. Not only did they answer all of my questions, they had questions for me to make sure I was the right candidate for the surgery. After surgery and that weight started dropping off, my life started changing for the better.

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Samantha

Lost 92lbs

Samantha's success story

I feel like a completely different person.

I had the gastric sleeve procedure. The driving factor behind me getting this procedure was my health. I didn't feel good physically or mentally. I had joint pains, even standing was difficult sometimes. Emotionally, this surgery completely turned my life around. I have so much more confidence. So much more happiness. I feel like a completely different person. I feel stronger. I feel able to accomplish more.

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Eileen

Lost 99lbs

Eileen's success story

It saved my life.

The driving factor behind me getting my procedure was that I couldn't get up off the floor with my granddaughter. That was my why. That was my big reason for having this surgery done. After surgery, it was a little bit of a struggle with what to eat. What you put in your mouth that you don't even think about. You don't think about what you're eating or how you're eating and portion size. It's what I do now every single day. The procedure has changed my life in so many ways. It saved my life.

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Brittany

Lost 126lbs

Brittany's success story

I am totally comfortable in my own skin.

I think I always grew up identifying myself as less than other people because I was fat. I decided to tackle that and just live my life. I had a sleeve gastrectomy. It changed how I view myself. How I communicate with people. I'm able to be much more of myself and live the life I always thought I should have been living. I am totally comfortable in my own skin. You have the tools you need to succeed here.

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Desiree

Lost 157lbs

Desiree's success story

I have a brand new life. I can do things I couldn't do before.

I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy because I had just become diabetic, and I had hypertension for many years. I lost a total of 157 pounds in 11 months. I have a brand new life. I can do things I couldn't do before. Everyone at New York Bariatric Group has been wonderful. They are kind. They are understanding. They make you feel comfortable. They will guide you every step of the way on your journey so that you can be successful.

Listen to Desiree’s testimonial
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Note: A BMI of 30 – 34.9 or BMI 35 – 39.9 with no comorbidities qualify for lap band but is usually not covered by insurance.

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