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Meet the Staff

Richard M. Tuten

President & CEO

Richard M. Tuten is HFNI’s President & Chief Executive Officer. He 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. He has over 30 years’ experience in health care leadership including managed care, hospital, and physician practice management. Mr. Tuten has a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy, a Master of Science in Administration (Health Services Administration), and a Juris Doctor degree. He 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. He will be responsible for the financial management of day to day operations for Health First Network, Inc. He is a Certified Public Accountant and has broad financial experience in healthcare and public accounting. Mr. Roche 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

Medical Director

Committed to providing quality health care that is truly local, Billy serves as HFNI’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. He 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.

Ms. Gant 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.


Jenny Caillouet

Director, Network Development/Provider Relations

Jenny, who has worked with Health First Network, Inc. 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. She 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.


Amy Ates

Provider Relations Representative

Amy Ates is HFNI's Provider Relations Representative. She is a lifelong resident of the Pensacola area. She brings 20 years of medical office experience to Health First Network, Inc. from various clinical specialties.

With the expected implementation of ICD-10 in 2014, an additional benefit to HFNI is the fact that she 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, Inc.

Amy will work with Jenny Caillouet to assist her in providing support and direction to Health First Network, Inc. provider offices.


Stephanie Allen

Provider Relations Representative

Stephanie Allen joined the Health First Network, Inc. team in June 2013 and is a great addition to HFNI’s Provider Relations Department. She 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, Inc. provider offices.


Sharon George

Operations Project Coordinator

Sharon George joined the Health First Network, Inc. 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 Villar

Credentialing Coordinator

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, Inc. 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, Inc. but also its physicians and the community at large. Shelby began her career in health care 17 years ago at Gulf Breeze Hospital.


Jennifer Sullivan

Credentialing Coordinator

Jennifer joined the Health First Network, Inc. team via Landrum in June 2013 before becoming full time in October. She has been a great asset to the HFNI team by being very organized and detailed oriented.

She joins Shelby Villar to ensure Health First Network's 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.


Michelle Hamilton

Online Data Specialist

Michelle has been with Health First Network, Inc. since July 1999. Her primary responsibilities consist of managing the company’s online presence - from marketing, website content management, social media publications, monthly email newsletter creation and distribution to web and data analytics. She also 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.