ORLANDO - At a special ceremony held recently, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County
(DOH-Orange) honored two deserving individuals from the community for their contributions and
dedication to public health.
This year’s Dr. Alfred L. Bookhardt, M.D. Award recipient is Dr. Michael Howell. Dr. Howell has
participated in healthcare access issues throughout his career.
Most recently, he has focused on addressing
COVID-19 education in Black and Brown communities in Central Florida. His work has involved setting
up webinars with major community employers, especially those who employ workers who are in the
highest risk for contracting COVID-19 and discussing vaccine education to assist with vaccine decision-
making. In collaboration with vaccine education he also has discussed health disparities and mistrust of
the medical delivery systems while explaining the reasons for preventive health screening to identify
serious medical conditions in minority populations. Dr. Howell has been able to raise the profile of health
disparities and health inequities in the local and external communities.
The annual Bookhardt award for Health Equity was created by DOH-Orange as a way of recognizing an
Orange County physician for their commitment to increasing access to health care with a goal of
achieving health equity in Central Florida. Dr. Alfred L. Bookhardt (1928-2014) began practicing in
Orlando during the Civil Rights Movement. He treated African-American patients who were refused care
by white physicians. He also co-founded the Central Florida Medical Society and Guardian Care, the first
long-term care facility for African-Americans in Orlando.
Also during the ceremony, DOH-Orange recognized one of its own employees – Epidemiologist
Cassandra Fonseca with a Health Equity Hero Award. Ms. Fonseca has been a vital member of the
COVID-19 data team that conducted in-depth reviews of the cases and provided insight on trends and
activity of the virus in the community. Ms. Fonseca’s COVID-19 surveillance data assisted DOH-Orange,
several community partners and decision makers to make the best data driven decision to protect county
residents and visitors, such as closing local bars to reduce the spread of COVID-19, recommending
county testing and vaccination sites.
About the Florida Department of Health - The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health
Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through
integrated state, county and community efforts.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @HealthyFla. For more information about the Florida
Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.