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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."

Barbara Bowman, R.N., J.D.
Vice President, Patient Services

As Associate Vice President for Patient Services, Barbara leads MD Anderson’s Customer Service initiatives, and oversees and coordinates the strategic and budget planning activities of the International Center, Language Assistance, Patient Advocacy, and Guest Relations, Patient Affairs and the Welcome Center. Prior to joining MD Anderson in 1999 as Director of Patient Advocacy, Barbara had a career in nursing and practiced law.

"I am privileged to work with many caring individuals that have devoted their careers to assisting patients and families during their cancer journey. Together, we will make cancer history."

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." 

Millie Naylor Hast, M.S., C.H.A.M
Program Manager, Patient Services

In her role as Program Manager, Patient Services, Millie combines her experience in patient financial services, customer service, and international services. She has been with MD Anderson since 1999 and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration. Her responsibilities include patient financial services for the International Center, as well as customer service, marketing, and operational projects for Patient Services and the institution. Email Millie: mnhast@mdanderson.org

"When one is away from home and not feeling well, dealing with financial matters can be a challenge.  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."

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International Patient Assistants

Jackie Azzi
International Patient Assistant

Jackie was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to Houston in 1999. She has a Bachelor degree in Social Work and is fluent in Arabic, French and English. Jackie's education and previous professional experience are well suited to assisting our international patients and their family members. Email Jackie: jbazzi@mdanderson.org.

"Being part of the International Center team gives me the chance to provide support and help for patients coming from all over the world. It is very rewarding to see a smile of comfort on our patients’ faces and know that we are providing care and hope. "


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."


Cynthia Gonzalez
International Patient Assistant

Cynthia was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Both of her parents were born in Mexico City and immigrated to the United States in 1970. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Cynthia joined the International Center at MD Anderson in 2002. She looks forward to providing services to people who come to our institution for treatment, and her focus is to assist patients in making cancer history. Email Cynthia: cgonzalez@mdanderson.org.

"I understand how difficult it is to seek medical care away from home. As an International Patient Assistant, I enjoy assisting our patients before they arrive, throughout their stay and after they return home."


Judith Ibarra
Senior International Patient Assistant

Judith was born in Mexico City and is fluent in both English and Spanish. She first joined MD Anderson as a Patient Access Specialist in the Gastrointestinal Business Center where she assisted domestic and international patients. She later joined the International Center in 2005 and brings with her the knowledge and caring nature which are essential in assisting our patients. Email Judith: jbibarra@mdanderson.org

"My hope is that everything we do makes an immense difference in the lives of our patients and their families."


Alejandra Palomino
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 14 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
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."


Eliane Sayeghe
Senior International Patient Assistant

Eliane is a native of Lebanon and has been employed in the medical field for many years. She is fluent in Arabic, English and also speaks some French. Eliane joined MD Anderson as a patient care coordinator in the Urology Clinic before joining the international team and has worked in MD Anderson for 12 years. Email Eliane: esayeghe@mdanderson.org.

"I am privileged to be part of the International Center. One of my goals is to be able to make patients feel at home away from home. Nothing is better than seeing a smile on a patient's face."


Nuran Timocin
International Patient Assistant
Senior Medical Interpreter/Translator

Nuran was born and raised in İzmir, Türkiye 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 this November. 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.

"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."

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Financial Staff

Rina Avila
Patient Account Specialist

Rina was born in Honduras and moved to Houston in 1983. She has 10 years of experience in the medical field and is fluent in English and Spanish. Rina joined MD Anderson in 2004 in the Thoracic Center as a Patient Service Coordinator and two years later moved to the department of Patient Business Services. In 2007, she joined the International Cancer Assessment Center as a Patient Access Specialist.

"I am  very happy to be part of the International team. It is my pleasure to be able to show our core values of caring, integrity and discovery to our international patients by helping them with their financial needs."


Joann M. Reyes
Patient Business Services Specialist

Joann was born in Corpus Christi, Texas but was raised in Houston. She speaks fluent English and Spanish and has more than 15 years of experience in the medical field. Joann joined MD Anderson in 1999. Prior to becoming a part of the International Center, she worked in the Genitourinary and Melanoma Center handling new patient referrals.

"I want to ensure that all international patients get the assistance they need with understanding their bills and resolving their issues in a timely manner."

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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
Senior Secretary

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."


Chiraz BessaoudChiraz Bessaoud
Receptionist

Chiraz was born in Tunisia and moved to Houston when she was 8 years old. Chiraz did not speak, read, or write English when she arrived. She learned English quickly but never forgot the difficulty of communicating in those first weeks and months. Chirazbegan her career at MD Anderson in the Genitourinary Center before transferring to the International Center.

"It is an honor to be part of the International Center. I am committed to helping international patients and their families feel welcomed and comfortable during their stay."


Jennifer Franco
Receptionist

Jennifer was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Both of her parents were born in El Salvador and migrated to the Unites States in 1978. She is fluent in English and Spanish and is the youngest of two older siblings. Jennifer is currently attending school, with dreams of staying within the medical field.

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


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 Cancer Assessment Center

Janie Wilde, R.N.
Clinical Nurse, Outpatient

Janie has many years of nursing experience through her work in medical and surgical intensive care and the emergency room in Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota and North Carolina. Janie began her oncology career in 1998 working at MD Anderson as a clinic nurse in Symptom Control and Palliative Care and then as a research nurse in Radiation Oncology and Symptom Management. She later joined the International Cancer Assessment Center as its full-time nurse in 2008.

"I understand how difficult it can be to travel a long distance for cancer care. Making the patient feel welcomed and cared for is the best part of my job."


Nancy LopezNancy Lopez
Patient Access Specialist

Nancy was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Both of Nancy’s parents were born in Monterrey, Mexico and immigrated to the United States in 1973. Nancy started at MD Anderson in the Leukemia Center in 2005. She worked in Stem Cell Transplant as a Blood Collection Coordinator prior to joining the International Center as a Patient Access Specialist. Nancy is fluent in both in English and Spanish.

"I am honored to be part of the International Cancer Assessment Center. My personal mission is to make our international cancer patients feel welcomed and help them as much as I can."


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."

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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: 


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center