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Meet Our Staff

The diverse and multi-lingual staff at MD Anderson’s International Center is proud to work with international patients and families seeking cancer treatment. With many years of combined experience, we are knowledgeable about the hospital’s services, processes and staff. You may be many miles from home, but we are here to personally welcome you and make your stay as comfortable as possible. Meet our caring team and see why we’re dedicated to providing exceptional customer service.

 

Management

Renato Lenzi, M.D.
Clinical Associate Professor, Department of GI Medical Oncology
Medical Director, International Center

Dr. Lenzi received his medical degree cum laude from the Universita’ Cattolica, Rome, Italy. He completed his Residency in Internal Medicine at The Jewish Hospital and Medical Center, New York. He also completed a Fellowship in Hematology at The Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York and a fellowship in Medical Oncology at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, followed by Board Certifications in Internal Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology.He joined the faculty of MD Anderson in 1991. Dr. Lenzi’s research and clinical interests have included the diagnosis and treatment of Occult Primary Cancer. He is a member of the NCCN Occult Primary Guidelines Panel.

"My work is focused on the care and benefit of our international patients. I believe in constantly reaching out to all parties involved to discuss how we can work together to enhance our patients’ experience and to move forwards in improving their care."

Martha Coleman, M.S.N., R.N., O.C.N.
Nurse Manager, International Center

Martha began her oncology nursing career with MD Anderson in 1992 and has worked in both the inpatient and outpatient setting, as well as in various centers and capacities since her start. She earned her certification in oncology nursing (OCN) in 2002 and joined the International Center in 2005 as the Supervisor, Patient Access. In her current role as Nurse Manager, Martha combines clinical knowledge with a passion for helping our international patients as she manages the International Center and International Cancer Assessment Center. Email Martha: mccolema@mdanderson.org

"Working in the International Center has provided me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. It is a privilege to welcome our international patients, families and friends and assist them during their stay." 

 

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International Patient Assistants


Rita ChemalyRita Chemaly
International Patient Assistant

Rita was born and raised in Lebanon. She moved to the United States in 1994 and to Houston in 2002. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and is fluent in Arabic, French and English. In addition to her education, Rita brings her previous professional experience as an interpreter for Arabic and French speaking patients at another hospital to her position in the International Center at MD Anderson. Rita’s email: rmchemaly@mdanderson.org.

"I feel so humble in being part of our International patients’ journeys against cancer. Being available for them and offering my assistance just to ease their burdens is a very rewarding experience for me, and I would like to thank them for entrusting me with this opportunity."


Alejandra (Hanna) Palomino 
Senior International Patient Assistant

Alejandra Palomino, also known as Hanna, was born in Mexico City and moved to Houston in 1973. Hanna speaks both English and Spanish and has been working in the medical field for 15 years. Hanna joined MD Anderson in 1999 and became a part of the International Center in 2006. Email Hanna: apalomin@mdanderson.org.

"I've accomplished many things in my life, but my most rewarding accomplishment is helping patients and their families and friends."

 


Stephanie A. Puente
Senior International Patient Assistant

Stephanie is a fourth-generation Mexican American from the Houston-Galveston area, who speaks English and Spanish. Prior to joining the International Center in late 2004, she worked as a Health Information Specialist for the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at MD Anderson. The insight and knowledge gained at her previous position has helped her understand her patients better. Email Stephanie: sapuente@mdanderson.org

"Caring, discovery and integrity definitely play a vital role in meeting my patient’s needs and in interacting with my fellow coworkers. It is a privilege to be part of the International Center team."


Dalida Saliby
Senior International Patient Assistant

Dalida was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to Houston in 2001. She has a Master degree in Social Work and is fluent in Arabic, French and English. Her education and previous professional experience made her a perfect fit for the International Center. Email Dalida: desaliby@mdanderson.org

"Being an International Patient Representative provides me the opportunity to meet people from different countries and cultures. It is an enormous pleasure to offer support and assist patients throughout the treatment process."

 


Nuran Timocin
International Patient Assistant
Senior Medical Interpreter/Translator

Nuran was born and raised in İzmir, Turkey and moved to Houston, Texas in 1980. Nuran holds a D.M.D degree from Ege University and her learned languages are French, German and English. She joined MD Anderson in 1991 as Medical Interpreter/Translator and assumed the responsibilities of International Patient Assistant for Turkish patients in 2011. Email Nuran: ntimocin@mdanderson.org.

"I consider it a privilege to be able to assist patients during a very trying period in their lives."


Mei Ling ZhuangMei Ling Zhuang
International Patient Assistant

Meiling Zhuang worked as a physician in one of the most prestigious cancer hospitals in China for more than 10 years.  After immigration to United States, Meiling attended clinical rotations as a medical resident at the University of Texas before joining the International Center.  With her knowledge of the medical systems in both China and the United States, Meiling understands what her patients need most.  Meiling is fluent in English and Mandarin and looks forward to welcoming and assisting our Mandarin speaking patients and families. Email Mei Ling: Mei.Zhuang@mdanderson.org

"I look forward to using my medical knowledge as well as my understanding of the Chinese culture and Mandarin language to help the patients and families that I assist feel at home so they can concentrate on getting well."

Monique RoseMonique Hanako Rose
Patient Representative

Monique was born and raised in Japan and moved to the United States in 2007. She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Justice & Communications; and is fluent in Japanese and English. Monique has been working in the field of client services and intercultural communication for English-speaking and Japanese-speaking communities for almost twenty years. Email Monique: mhrose@mdanderson.org   

“I am honored to have the opportunity to assist our patients, their families and friends at the International Center. Navigating a cancer diagnosis and exploring care options can be daunting, and seeking care abroad can add anxiety to an already challenging experience. My goal is to provide as much warmth and comfort of home as possible for our patients."


Dina HannaDina Hanna Nasrallah
Patient Representative

Dina was born and raised in Egypt and moved to Houston in May 2014. She has a Bachelor degree in Business Administration and is fluent in Arabic, English and French. Dina’s education and previous professional experience in hotel management, finance and concierge services and international travel are well suited to assisting our international patients and their family members. Email Dina: dhanna@mdanderson.org.

“I am honored to be part of the international center team, because it gives me the chance to help and support patients and their families in their most difficult time.”


 

Jennifer Franco
International Patient Assistant

Jennifer was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Both of her parents are from El Salvador and migrated to the Unites States in 1978. She is fluent in English and Spanish and the youngest of her siblings. Jennifer is currently attending school, with a goal of staying within the medical field. Email  Jennifer: jefranco@mdanderson.org.

"I want to assist my patients as much as I can and help them feel welcomed to MD Anderson.."


 

Roba Eltaha
International Patient Assistant

Roba is originally from Palestine but born and raised in the United Arab Emirates. She moved to Houston in 2012 and speaks fluent Arabic and English.  Roba has more than 6 years of nursing experience in United Arab Emirates prior to joining the International Center in 2014.  Email Roba:  rmeltaha@mdanderson.org.

"It is an honor to be part of the international center. I want to ensure that all international patients receive assistance they need in order to focus on fighting their cancer.


 

Joey Aoun
International Patient Assistant

Joey was born and raised in United Arab Emirates.  Joey's parents are from Lebanon and he is fluent in Arabic and English.  He moved to Houston in 2004 and was employed in the medical field for over 7 years before joining the International Center team at MD Anderson in 2014.  Email Joey:  JAoun@mdanderson.org

“It is an honor  to offer a helping hand to our international patients, and join them in their fight against cancer far away from home.”


 

 

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Administrative Staff

Barbara Riddle
Senior Administrative Assistant

Barbara is originally from Buffalo, New York but now considers herself a Texan. Prior to joining the International Center, she worked in several other departments in the institution that gave her knowledge to prepare for her present position in the International Center. She has worked at MD Anderson for 14 years.

"It is a pleasure to work in the International Center and assist patients from all over the world. Cancer is a scary disease and if I make something a little easier for them, all the better."


 

San Juanita Vazquez
Administrative Assistant

Juanita was born in Laredo, Texas and speaks fluent English and Spanish. She has 15 years of customer service experience and joined MD Anderson in 2005. Prior to becoming a part of the International Center, she worked in the Welcome Center handling all calls that came into the institution.

"To be able to help and assist my coworkers and patients has been very gratifying. My efforts do help and make a difference when it comes to customer service. It is important for me to know that at the end of the day we were able to help someone with his or her concerns."

 


Mayra Aguilar
Receptionist

Mayra was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Mayra’s mother is from Mexico and her father is from El Salvador.  Mayra is fluent in Spanish and English and is the third of four siblings.  Mayra is a part-time student at a nearby Houston university.   Mayra joined MD Anderson and the International Center in 2014.  

"It is a privilege and honor to be working for such an elite hospital as MD Anderson. I love to welcome international patients from all over the world and help them in any way I can."

 


Marivic SoMarivic So
Patient Services Coordinator

Marivic was born in the Philippines and moved to Texas as a teenager. She is half Chinese and half Filipino and is fluent in Tagalog and some Mandarin. Marivic worked at MD Anderson’s Children Cancer Hospital for 7 years before joining the International Center in 2011.

"I understand how frustrating it can be to come to a different country and not speak the language. I've experienced this during my traveling, that's why I feel at home at the International Center. I understand our patients’ feelings and needs and can relate to their situation. Having this experience and my background in patient care I feel confident to be able to help and assist them more with their needs."


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International Assessment Center

Nivia Montes, DHSc, MHEP, MPAS, PA-C
Physician Assistant

Nivia is originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico where she completed her Premed Degree,  graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and received a Master of Health Education and Promotion.   Nivia joined MD Anderson as a Language and Culture Instructor, leaving the position in 2002 to pursue her Master of Physician Studies.  Nivia rejoined MD Anderson in 2005 as a physician assistant with the Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Department.  Nivia holds a Doctorate of Health Science from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Nivia joined the International Assessment Center in 2014.

"I see the International Assessment Center as a place of embracement for patients who have to leave family and homeland to come to a land with a different culture and language in the quest for healing.  My commitment is to make a positive difference in their journey, serve them wholeheartedly, facilitate their care, and provide the service they are entitled to while upholding the core values and the global reputation of our Institution."


Tong Liu, R.N., BSN, CGRN
Clinical Nurse, Outpatient

Tong has over 20 years of medical and surgical nursing experience in China and United States.  Tong moved to the United States in 2000 and is fluent in Chinese and English.  In 2007, Tong began her MD Anderson career as a clinic nurse in the medical and surgical telemetry floor before transferring to the Endoscopy Center and ultimately the Gastrointestinal Center.  In 2015, she joined the International Assessment Center as clinic nurse..

"With my passion of patient care and many years of the nursing experience, I am delighted to provide the best care to patients and families from all over the world"

 


Iva Daniels, RN
Patient Access Coordinator

Iva started her nursing career in Atlanta Georgia as a Perioperative Nurse for many years and then transitioned to the Emergency room and later Managed Care as a Utilization Review Nurse. In 2012 she started her career at MD Anderson as a Patient Access Coordinator after relocating to Houston, Texas. In her role as the Patient Access Coordinator she is responsible for patient coordination and access to service activities

"My goal is to ensure our financial processes are as seamless and patient-friendly as possible for our international patients so that they can focus on their treatment."


   

 

Celia Garcia
Patient Access Specialist

Celia was born in Mexico but has been in Texas since she was three years old. She is fluent in English and Spanish and has worked in the medical field for more than 12 years. Celia joined MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2003 as a Patient Access Specialist in the Sarcoma Center. She now works in the International Cancer Assessment Center and has been there since 2006.

"I feel privileged and honored to be part of the International Cancer Assessment Center. It is my goal to make sure I follow MD Anderson’s core values of caring, integrity and discovery at all times and with all my patients."

 


Diana Gomez
Patient Access Specialist

Diana was born and raised in Houston Texas.  Her parents were born in Mexico and came to the United States in 1975.  Diana speaks fluent Spanish and English.
Diana began her MD Anderson career in 2010 in the Thoracic Center as a patient service coordinator before begin promoted to patient access specialist.  Diana joined the International Assessment Center in 2014.

"Working in the International Center has given the opportunity to meet people all over the world.  While we may speak different languages, when you see the patient smile, you know you have made a difference."

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Contact the International Center

Contact us with questions or to make an appointment.

Phone: 001-713-745-0450
Toll-free from Mexico & Canada: 800-811-6167
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (CST)
E-mail: international@mdanderson.org

What to Expect

Find more information on each step of the appointment process: 


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center