Columbia High School graduate, now a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist, returns to Lake City to provide care to area children 

 
Born in Gainesville and raised in Ft. White, Angela Black, MD, is the seventh generation on her Dad’s side to live in North Florida. Now that she and her family have relocated from Cincinnati to Jacksonville, her two sons are the eighth. In April, she and pediatric otolaryngologist Gary Josephson, MD, began to offer pediatric ear, nose and throat services to Columbia-county kids at the Wolfson Children’s Specialty Center in Lake City.

A hometown girl who enjoyed tubing on the Ichetucknee River and camping with her friends, she learned to love working with her hands from her mother, Cathy Prevatt, a cabinet worker, and her late father Richard Prevatt, who owned his own cabinet shop for a decade. Throughout her childhood and teens, she helped her parents craft finely detailed furniture, cabinets, shelves and chests. “I still enjoy woodworking,” said Dr. Black.

She knew early on what she wanted her career to be. “I told my Mom when I was in elementary school that I wanted to be a doctor,” remembered Dr. Black, a pediatric otolaryngologist (ENT) with Nemours Children’s Clinic, Jacksonville, and Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “I knew I wanted to help people.”

While a student at Columbia High School, she took advantage of a health occupations program that allowed her to job-shadow physicians in her area to help her decide what she might want to specialize in. “In 10th grade, I had the opportunity to shadow an orthopedic surgeon in Lake City and watch her perform surgery,” Dr. Black said. “I loved it! I saw all of tools and screws she used during surgery and I said, ‘That’s what I want to be.’”

As soon as she could drive, she went to work in the usual teenage jobs, including being a waitress at a now-closed pizza restaurant called “Lord Munchie’s” and in an animal hospital in High Springs. At the same time, she took every opportunity she could to shadow different physician specialists on the job. One of those was Patrick Antonelli, MD, an otolaryngologist in Gainesville.

Dr. Antonelli offered her a part-time job in his research lab while she attended the University of Florida (UF) on a Bright Futures full-ride scholarship. “Dr. Antonelli told me that he went to medical school to become a surgeon because of how much he enjoyed woodworking. Like me, he learned woodworking from his parents and they inspired him to become a surgeon and work with his hands to help people. He encouraged me to go to medical school at UF.”

With Dr. Antonelli’s recommendation, she completed her residency in otolaryngology at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he had also done his residency.

During her training, Dr. Black had the opportunity to rotate through the pediatric otolaryngology program at Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “That’s when I decided I wanted to work with kids,” she said. “Watching pediatric ENTs doing life-changing and life-saving, complex procedures on little children inspired me.” 

Her path toward pediatric ENT surgery as her specialty was sealed when, midway through her residency, she discovered she had a latex allergy, which ironically (considering her future career choice) caused her airway to close up.

“I thought I’d have to stop working as a surgeon,” she said. “At the time, the adult hospitals in the area only had latex gloves in the OR, but children’s hospitals carried latex-safe gloves to protect kids who might be allergic. I knew that in a children’s hospital, I could still be an ENT surgeon and do what I love. I still carry an Epipen with me wherever I go in case I have an anaphylaxic (allergic) reaction.”

After her residency, Dr. Black completed a two-year pediatric otolaryngology fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in their premiere pediatric airway reconstruction program, which draws patients of all ages from around the world. Following her fellowship, she was recruited by Nemours Children’s Clinic, Jacksonville, because of her expertise and experience in airway reconstruction. She and her family relocated to Jacksonville last July.

Last month, she and Dr. Josephson began to also provide services to Columbia County-area kids at the Wolfson Children’s Specialty Center in Lake City, with pediatric ENT Gary Josephson, MD, chief of Otolaryngology at Nemours Children’s Clinic, Jacksonville. They still continue to see patients at Nemours Children’s Clinics in downtown Jacksonville, Jacksonville’s southside, and Fleming Island (Clay County), as well as Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“We provide general pediatric ENT services for conditions in kids such as chronic ear infections, hearing loss and sinusitis, as well as voice issues such as chronic hoarseness and voice box paralysis,” says Dr. Black. “In Jacksonville, we perform the much more complex surgeries at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, including removing head and neck cysts and tumors, treating cleft lip and palate, and airway reconstruction.”

Now that she’s back in North Florida, Dr. Black enjoys visiting family and friends who still live in Columbia County and going to familiar places. She said, “While I was in Minnesota and Cincinnati, I missed my family and friends, the Ichetucknee River, and my favorite restaurants like Chasteen’s, Skip’s Deli and Ken’s Barbecue. Being in Lake City feels comfortable because the people are so nice and there is a real sense of community here. And I get to eat at my favorite restaurants again!”

Dr. Black is glad to have the opportunity to continue doing the work she loves in Jacksonville and now in Columbia County. “It’s definitely like coming home,” she said. “When I was growing up, you had to travel to Jacksonville or Gainesville for specialty medical care. I’m excited we are bringing the same kind of care kids get in Jacksonville to the Wolfson Children’s Specialty Center in Lake City.”

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