The leadership at Avanti Hospitals has a diverse foundation of expertise across the healthcare arena, from hospital operations to investment banking to real estate. Combined, the management and principals have the right blend of disciplines necessary to operate and successfully manage hospitals and related healthcare operations.


Joel Freedman


Joel Freedman brings more than 20 years of experience in the areas of capital strategy and implementation, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, insurance and business reorganizations to Avanti. Joel previously served as Managing Director of Paladin Capital, a corporate finance advisory firm with particular experience and expertise in the healthcare segment, having completed more than $800 million of recent healthcare transactions. He has been involved in the analysis, structuring and implementation of more than 175 investment banking transactions totaling more than $3 billion. In 2004, he co-founded CompWest Insurance Company, a California-based workers compensation insurance company that was sold in 2007 to Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, a unit of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan. Joel currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Partners In Care, a prominent healthcare think tank that serves as a catalyst for shaping a new vision for the healthcare industry; and the foundation for AltaMed Health Services, the largest community clinic system in the state of California.

Jamie MacPherson


Jamie MacPherson brings more than 20 years of corporate finance and investment banking experience to Avanti. During his career, he has worked on transactions exceeding $2.0 billion. Along with Joel Freedman, he served as Managing Director of Paladin Capital, where together they completed numerous transactions, including more than $800 million of healthcare Transactions. He is also a co-founder of CompWest Insurance. Jamie previously served as Managing Partner of The Rhodes Group, LLC, a financial advisory firm serving emerging companies, where he provided transaction and business planning advisory services to over 200 companies. Prior to founding The Rhodes Group, he served as a Director and Vice President of Operations for a publicly-held consumer and healthcare products company. He began his career on the floor of the Pacific Stock Exchange, where he held a seat as a licensed trader and served as a floor broker for three leading broker-dealers.

Dr. Mark Bell


Dr. Mark Bell brings more than 15 years of experience in the areas of emergency department operations, hospitalist operations, physician services and medical management to Avanti. He is a principal of Emergent Medical Associates (EMA), a leading provider of emergency care and episodic care management services to patients, communities, physician groups and hospitals throughout California. EMA’s proven physicians, proprietary methods, management techniques and uncompromising standards allow EMA to create “Hospitals of Excellence” for its clients. EMA currently operates 20 emergency departments caring for 550,000 patients annually, along with a high-performance hospitalist program. EMA brings unparalleled Emergency Department and hospitalist operations expertise to the Avanti team. Dr. Bell’s expertise is particularly strong in ED efficiencies, hospitalist programs, customer service, strategic planning, quality, Core Measures and business development. He frequently lectures on many topics including Nuclear Biological and Chemical Warfare, EMTALA and toxicology, among others.

Nick Orzano


Nick Orzano brings over five years of healthcare finance and investment banking experience to Avanti. Prior to co-founding Avanti, he served as a Director of Paladin Capital alongside Joel Freedman and Jamie MacPherson. At Paladin, Nick worked on over $500mm of transactions, including over $400mm of healthcare transactions. In addition to working alongside David Benjamin on the financial operations, Nick has been integral in driving expense reduction in the supply chain and labor for all three facilities. He also is a key part of the acquisition team, adding value on transaction structures, due diligence and underwriting. He holds BS Degrees in Finance & Banking, Finance & Real Estate, and Economics and a MBA from the University of Missouri.

Jamey Edwards


Jamey Edwards brings more than 10 years of experience as a healthcare executive and investment banker to Avanti. He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer for Emergent Medical Associates (EMA), a leading provider of Emergency Department and hospitalist management services. Prior to joining EMA, he was a member of the Investment Banking Division of Lehman Brothers, where he consummated transactions totaling more than $5 billion for leading companies such as Google, Six Flags, Sirius Radio and many others. Mr. Edwards has executed initial public offerings, follow-on offerings, restructurings and debt financings, as well as strategic, defense and M&A assignments for a broad range of Healthcare and New Media clients. While at Lehman, he served as captain of the Cornell Recruiting Team and was elected to the firm’s Global Advisory Council. Mr. Edwards has been a speaker for the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds and has led Investment Banking Workshops at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. He graduated a Tradition Fellow from Cornell University in 1996 and received his MBA from Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management in 2003.

Corporate Leadership

Joel Bergenfeld

Interim Chief Executive Officer

Joel Bergenfeld is a Board Certified Health System CEO with over thirty years of senior leadership experience. He has previously worked as CEO and in a senior leadership capacity at other reputable health organizations, such as Balboa Health and Education Associates, Physicians for Healthy Hospitals, Inc., Valley Health System, Century City Doctors Hospital and Tenet Healthcare Corporation, just to name a few. He has a proven track record of providing strategic and visionary leadership.

With a passion for healthcare, Joel has lead hospitals and health systems through mergers and acquisitions, has guided facilities as they have continued to improve in quality and service, established positive labor relations, and overseen the addition of new service lines and departments. He has solid experience in maintaining a healthy bottom line, while providing compassionate, high quality care to patients.

Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from University of California, Los Angeles, as well as a Master of Science in Health Services Administration from California State University Northridge.

Dennis Peter Haghighat, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Haghighat has over 20 years of experience working in medicine and hospital administration. He has previously worked as a CMO, CEO, VP of Medical Affairs, Internist, and Director. He knows the inner workings of a hospital from both sides; administration and the medical side, and through his expertise, he will assist Avanti in providing the best possible care to its patients, all the while lending guidance and direction to the physicians.

Dr. Haghighat received his MD from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia, and then completed an internship, residency, and MBA at the University of California, Irvine. He has experience in all areas of hospital management, and holds a deep understanding of successful management of surgical services, operations, quality improvement, risk management, laboratory, medical staff services, CPOE Implementation, Joint Commission surveys, CDPH licensure, hospital budgeting, and more. In his free time Dr. Haghighat is an avid reader of world history and culture.

Steven R. Blake, FHFMA, CPA, CGMA, MBA

Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Blake is currently President and Owner of an accountancy corporation, licensed in the State of California. In this capacity he offers services as a financial advisor to healthcare organizations.

Previously, he served as the as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Finance of IHHI (then a public company) for over 9 years. He also served as Regional Vice President of Finance for Tenet, a position he held for over 17 years. In this position, Mr. Blake was responsible for the financial management of numerous Tenet assets covering five western states (California, Arizona, Washington, Nebraska and Texas). The IHHI hospitals were also assigned to him during part of his tenure with Tenet.

He is a California licensed Certified Public Accountant and includes 7 years public accounting experience with international firms. Mr. Blake has over 30 years of experience in multi-hospital financial management, including experience in financial management roles with public companies.

Concurrent with his MBA studies, Mr. Blake was a Research Assistant for the Health Policy Analysis Program – an advisory group to the Washington State Legislature and the Washington State Department of Health Services.

Mr. Blake is past president and chapter advisor for the Southern California Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association; a member of the AICPA Health Care Expert Panel and the AICPA Healthcare Conference Education Committee; a former member of the audit committee for the Hospital Association of Southern California and former trustee for the California Hospital Association


  • President-Owner of Steven R. Blake CPA (Accountancy Corporation)
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Member of the Healthcare Expert Panel, contributing reviewer for AICPA 2014/15 Audit Risk Alert – Health Care Industry Developments and the Audit and Accounting Guide- Health Care Entities 2014. Member of the Healthcare Conference Education Committee 2015.
  • Healthcare Financial Management Association, Southern California Chapter Past President, Chapter Advisor, LINK Committee Chair, Medal of Honor Recipient
  • California Society of Certified Public Accountants
  • California Hospital Association, Past Trustee
  • Certified Global Management Accountant
  • Health Care Executives of Southern California [HCE/ACHE]
  • Hospital Association of Southern California, Past Audit Committee Member
  • Certified Public Accountant: California License # 45961, Active

Paul Celuch

Chief Human Resources Officer

Paul Celuch brings more than 20 years of healthcare leadership experience, including responsibilities in the areas of human resources, recruitment, benefit planning, employee relations and organizational improvement. Prior to joining Avanti, Paul served as the Chief Human Resources Officer at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital – Keck Medicine of USC where he was responsible for all human resources programs including benefit cost containment, organizational development, and mergers and acquisition activities. Before moving into healthcare, Paul held executive-level positions within the information technology and financial services industries. He received his BS from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and his MS from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Paul also completed the Advanced Human Resources Management Program offered through University of California, Los Angeles.

Jason Cervantes

Chief Information Officer

Jason Cervantes is an experienced, results-driven leader who brings more than 15 years of experience within the healthcare information technology field to Avanti Hospitals. Prior to joining Avanti, he served as the Director of Information Technology at Antelope Valley Hospital, where he successfully managed multi-million dollar technology initiatives, spanning development, implementation and rollout. By taking a focused, interdisciplinary approach, Jason has a proven track record of leading full-hospital information system replacements, as well as the implementations of bedside barcode medication administration, electronic health records and computerized physician order entry.

Hospital Leadership

Victor Carrasco

Chief Executive Officer, East Los Angeles Doctors Hospital 

Victor Carrasco has over 15 years of experience working in all facets of for-profit healthcare administration and operations, including developing policies and procedures. He came to us after having been the Market Chief Executive Officer at Kindred and previous CEO for a number of Kindred Hospitals in the Los Angeles, Orange County and Inland Empire regions, as well as a professor at Cal State San Bernardino.

Victor earned his MBA and MHA from the University of St. Francis in IL, and holds a BS in Healthcare Management from Southern Illinois University. He is a proud U.S. Navy Veteran, having served in Operation Iraqi Freedom I as a U.S. Navy Corpsman, and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

In his free time, he enjoys volunteering with and fundraising for various non-profits, including the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and American Lung Association.  He is also the Immediate Past President of Healthcare Executives of Southern California.

Kevan Metcalfe

Chief Executive Officer, Memorial Hospital of Gardena

With more than 20 years of hospital leadership experience, Kevan Metcalfe is a well-respected member of the management team. He most recently served as Chief Administrative Officer with Avanti Corporate before coming to MHG. Kevan’s background includes experience as a CEO, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer in both For-Profit and Faith Based Not-For Profit Healthcare systems. Additionally, Kevan was president of a healthcare management consulting company, where he advised facilities and systems on Strategic Plan Development, Hospital Operational Improvement, Leadership Development, Market Assessment. His primary focus is assisting hospitals in providing patient centric healthcare to the community.

Kevan is a Fellow of The American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). He holds an MBA from the Florida Institute of Technology and a BSc in Nursing from the Florida Southern College.

Patrick Rafferty

Chief Executive Officer, Coast Plaza Hospital

Patrick Rafferty is an accomplished healthcare industry executive with more than 25 years of leadership experience.  He has a strong background in management, operations, strategic planning and maximizing the potential of facilities and organizations in dynamic and evolving environments.

Patrick holds a Master of Business Administration from Saint Mary’s College, as well as a Bachelor of Business Administration from Kent State University. He enjoys mentoring others pursuing careers in healthcare and works to provide support and guidance for optimal performance and success.  He has a proven track record of helping hospitals and health systems to remain profitable, allowing them to provide the very best care to their patients.

With his experience as a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Patrick is a wealth of knowledge and a great asset to the Avanti family.

Pat Rives

Hospital Administrator, Community Hospital of Huntington Park

Pat has over 20 years of healthcare management experience in both not for profit and for profit hospitals. She has served as Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer for major healthcare systems such as HCA, Dignity and Tenet. Her leadership experience includes tertiary and trauma centers. She consults at Howard University Hospital in Washington DC for Pipeline Health.

Pat received her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Texas Medical Branch. She is also certified as a Healthcare Accreditation Professional by CIHQ.