Meet the Staff
Richard M. Tuten
President & CEO
Richard M. Tuten is Health First Network’s President & Chief Executive Officer. Richard will be responsible for not only the day to day operations of the company but also working with the Board of Directors and other physician leaders to set the strategic course for the coming years. Richard has over 30 years’ experience in health care leadership including managed care, hospital, and physician practice management. Richard has a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy, a Master of Science in Administration (Health Services Administration), and a Juris Doctor degree. Richard is licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia.
E.L. Roché, Jr.
Chief Financial Officer
E.L. Roché, Jr. is HFNI’s Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Roche will be responsible for the financial management of day to day operations for Health First Network. He is a Certified Public Accountant and has broad financial experience in healthcare and public accounting. E.L. proudly holds Bachelor and Master Degrees in Accounting from the University of West Florida. A life-long Pensacola native, he is an avid community supporter and volunteer.
Dr. Billy Whibbs
Committed to providing quality health care that is truly local, Billy serves as Health First Network’s Medical Director. In this role, he is surrounded by a team of professional clinicians all dedicated to assuring health plan members receive first rate care. Working together, they coordinate with network physicians to manage referrals and authorizations, identify high risk patients, and implement disease management programs where appropriate. Billy is a Board Certified Family Practice physician with over 30 years of practice experience and is also a founding member of the company.
Deborah M. Gant, RN, BSN, MSN
Director of Health Services
Deborah Gant is HFNI’s Director of Health Services. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida in Health Science/Biology, a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Florida State University and a Master degree in Nursing Administration from the University of South Alabama.
Deborah is a seasoned nurse with 24 years of Clinical experience. Her clinical background consists of Pediatrics, Medical/Surgical, Orthopedics, and Operating Room Nursing.
A life-long Pensacola native, she is an avid Gator Fan. Her responsibilities consist of directing the daily activities of the Health Services/Medical Management Department, including review, concurrent review, prior authorization, discharge planning, care coordination, quality improvement, accreditation, case management, population management, credentialing, and disease management.
She’s excited about her role as Director and working with a team that is committed to providing quality services to the community.
Director, Network Development/Provider Relations
Jenny, who has worked with Health First Network since 1999, recruits health care providers to participate in a health insurance organization’s network of preferred providers. She is responsible for training the providers and medical staff members regarding procedures to submit claims and how to resolve issues to ensure that providers and health care insurance policyholders are satisfied with their services. Jenny provides support and direction to committee members to ensure optimal provider recruitment, education, and service, completion of plan initiatives, and the establishment of an adequate panel of providers for medical care that meets member geographic needs with cost effective contracts. She's built her career working for insurance companies and physician offices, giving her the expertise to build a provider network dedicated to serving the community.
Provider Relations Representative
Amy Ates is HFNI's Provider Relations Representative. Amy is a lifelong resident of the Pensacola area. She brings 20 years of medical office experience to Health First Network from various clinical specialties.
With the expected implementation of ICD-10 in 2014, an additional benefit to Health First Network is the fact that Amy received her coding certification in 2007 and continues to expand on her knowledge in coding. Amy’s ability to listen and communicate well with others is one of the many reasons she was chosen to fill the Provider Relations Representative position with Health First Network.
Amy will work with Jenny Caillouet to assist her in providing support and direction to Health First Network provider offices.
Provider Relations Representative
Stephanie Allen joined the Health First Network team in June 2013 and is a great addition to HFNI’s Provider Relations Department. Stephanie is a lifelong resident of the Pensacola area. She brings 25 years of outpatient billing, claims and supervisory experience with her. Stephanie’s knowledge of medical office procedures, billing and claims processing enhances the benefit she adds to the Provider Relations Department as she works with our Provider Offices under all contracted lines of business in her new capacity as a Provider Relations Representative.
Stephanie joins Amy Ates in assisting Jenny Caillouet in providing support and direction to Health First Network provider offices.
Operations Project Coordinator
Sharon George joined the Health First Network team in June 2014. She brings 30 years of experience in business including accounting, operations management and human resources.
She and her husband moved to Pensacola in 1982 from Louisiana. Sharon loves tennis and has been very involved in the Pensacola tennis community. She has served as President of the Greater Pensacola Tennis Association as well as being on the boards of the Florida Section of the USTA and the Greater Pensacola Ladies Tennis League.
Sharon is an avid animal lover and has 3 very spoiled dogs.
Shelby keeps busy, well, by keeping tabs on Health First Network's 650+ plus physicians. She works day in and day out to ensure all doctors are up to date on their credentials, insurances, Florida licenses, DEA's, and so forth. Shelby joined Health First Network in early 2007 via way of MED3OOO, where she worked for nearly eight years. Her dedication, attention to detail, and proactive nature stand to benefit not only Health First Network but also its physicians and the community at large. Shelby began her career in health care 17 years ago at Gulf Breeze Hospital.
Jennifer joined the Health First Network team via Landrum in June 2013 before becoming full time in October. Jennifer has been a great asset to the HFNI’s team by being very organized and detailed oriented.
She joins Shelby Villar to ensure Health First Network 650 plus physicians are up to date on their credentials, insurance, Florida licenses and DEA’s. Jennifer enjoys learning new things and look forward to contributing her knowledge and ideas to the growth of this organization.
She is a native of Pensacola and the mother of two girls.
Serving Health First Network since 1999, Michelle provides administrative support to the President & CEO as well as serving as the primary contact for HFNI Shareholders, The Board of Directors and committee members. Among her many duties, Michelle coordinates, attends and takes minutes of the HFNI Shareholders meetings, The Board of Directors meetings, Executive Committee meetings, Finance Committee meetings, and other various committee meetings. Michelle is also responsible for maintaining the company website, along with designing and distributing the eConnect monthly newsletter and marketing materials.