Skip Global navigation and goto content

Dr. Michael Howell recipient of the 7th annual Dr. Bookhardt Winner

By Kent Donahue

June 14, 2021

Kent Donahue


Orlando, FL - At a special ceremony held Friday, 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 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 policy makers in making 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



2021 Bookhardt Winner: From left Ms. Alfred L. Bookhardt, Dr. Michael Howell, DOH-Orange Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino


Health Equity Hero: From left DOH-Orange Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino, Cassandra Fonseca, and Ellis Perez DOH-Orange Community Health Program Manager