Cuba-raised doctor defied odds to lead AdventHealth’s first COVID-19 unit in Central Florida

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — When Dr. Maria Carrillo walks the halls of AdventHealth’s main campus in Orlando, she is the American dream at work.

She was 25 when she arrived in the country from Cuba, with a medical degree already in hand. But before she could practice, she had to pass the medical boards here in the U.S.

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She worked on that while learning English at the same time.

Fast-forward to today.

“I had families who said I waited all day to hear your voice,” Carrillo said.

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As director of AdventHealth’s first COVID-19 unit in Central Florida, Carrillo led the way into unchartered territory by treating patients but also working on ways to protect hospital staff.

And while medical school and experience define her skills, her leadership style is a reflection of her upbringing.

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“In my culture, I like to be close to people. I like to know how they feel and I like to treat them physically and emotionally,” Carrillo said.

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Nancy Alvarez

Nancy Alvarez, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team in May 2010 and am currently co-anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning alongside Jamie Holmes.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.