UF Behavioral Health Hub – Gainesville

UF Behavioral Health Hub – Gainesville serves children ages 0-21 years in North Central Florida. We receive consult referrals from participating and enrolled providers in the following counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Union, and Volusia.

Dr. Pumariega Andres Pumariega, MD, Medical Director

Dr. Pumariega is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist with over 40 years’ experience in multiple children’s mental health settings, including consultation to pediatrics. He is Professor and Division Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Florida. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Miami. Dr. Pumariega did his psychiatry residency and child psychiatry fellowship at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. He is a national expert in community systems of care for children’s mental health, having helped to start many state level children’s mental health programs, including the New Jersey Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative Program before arriving in Florida. He has published over 250 scientific publications, has over 250 presentation abstracts and has received numerous national awards for his work, including being named to the University of Miami Medical Alumni Hall of Fame (1999). Recipient of the 2024 Agnes Purcell McGavin Award for Distinguished Career Achievement by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and APA Foundation.

Sarah Andrews Sarah Vas, MD

Dr. Vas is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is interested in prevention and treatment of mental illness and substance use in children and adolescents, using a youth guided and family driven model. Dr. Vas completed her undergraduate and graduate education at Washington University in St. Louis and her medical education in Manipal University-Kasturba Medical College/American University of Antigua College of Medicine. She moved to Gainesville to complete the combined Psychiatry – Child Psychiatry Fellowship track at University of Florida. During her Child Psychiatry training, Dr. Vas recognized the importance of prevention of substance use and addiction right from adolescence. As a natural alignment to Dr. Vas’ interests, she went on to complete an Addiction Medicine Fellowship at UF. During her Addiction Medicine Fellowship, Dr. Vas continued to treat children and adolescents as part-time Adjunct Faculty. She remained at UF as full time faculty and serves to train medical students, residents and fellows in the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics.

Dr. Vas consistently serves her community through activities geared toward the prevention of mental illness and recovery. Dr. Vas is fluent in Spanish. She enjoys spending time with her family.

Richard D'Alli Richard D’Alli, MD, MEd, ScM

Dr. D’Alli is Associate Professor Emeritus in the UF College of Medicine and currently Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor in the UF Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has 30 years of experience as a clinician, educator, and administrator in pediatric age mental health programs at four academic medical centers. He received his undergraduate degree and master of education degree from the University of Florida and medical degree from the University of Arizona. Dr. D’Alli completed his residency in psychiatry and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. After serving as Director of Community Child Psychiatry Programs at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, he returned to Duke to build a multidisciplinary, pediatric age behavioral health clinic over 13 years. He joined the UF faculty in both Pediatrics and Psychiatry in 2015, building a developmental and behavioral health program embedded in the Department of Pediatrics and supervising the outpatient autism clinic in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. D’Alli is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Soda Takahiro Soda, MD, PhD

Dr. Soda is board certified in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. He obtained his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and obtained his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts as part of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology Medical Scientist Training Program.

Dr. Soda completed his residency in general psychiatry and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of North Carolina Hospitals. He is a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Autism and Intellectual Developmental Disorders committee, where he serves as a co-chair of the position statement subcommittee, as well as the ethics committee and a member of several committees in the International Society for Psychiatric Genetics.

Dr. Soda works in the Child Division and provides patient care services at the UF Health Springhill II clinic and UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital. He also conducts clinical research in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders in adults, adolescents, and children. He has an integral role in the development of research programs in the UF Health Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment (CAN). In addition, he serves as an important academic teacher and mentor for medical students, interns, training residents and fellows.

Beth Severance Beth P. Severance, APRN

After graduating from Emory University, Beth Severance started her career as a pediatric nurse in the hospital settings of Atlanta, Georgia.  She later moved back to her home state of Florida where she attended the University of Florida to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.  She worked as a provider in the Gainesville, Florida community for over 20 years and holds certificates as a primary care nurse practitioner (CPNP-PC) and a Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS).  In addition, she received a professional certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder from the University of Florida, College of Medicine.  She and her husband have raised five kids and are in the process of spoiling 3 grandchildren.

Keisha Keisha Thornton, LCSW, Care Coordinator/Case Manager

Keisha has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of West Florida. She has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2018. She is also a Qualified Supervisor. Keisha has worked with youth, women and families in a variety of counseling settings since 2012. Her focus has been working with children and families in crisis and with those who have found themselves coping with adversity. Keisha has extensive experience working with clients who have experienced trauma, grief and loss, family separation and terminal medical diagnoses. She has provided counseling and case management services to children, adults, and families in a myriad of settings – school, home, hospital, outpatient clinic as a school social worker. Keisha enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, being active outside and gardening.

THE BEST Kati Breton, BS, Program Director

Kati received her Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University and began working in healthcare after relocating from New York City to Florida in 2000.  She worked in pediatric primary care for six years before joining the Ped-I-Care team at the University of Florida. In this role, she served as the Director of Network Management, Contracting and Data Management for the health plan serving Title XIX and XXI children with special healthcare needs in the state of Florida. After 14 years at Ped-I-Care, she joined the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry to serve as the Program Director for the Gainesville and Panhandle Behavioral Health Hubs. Additionally, Kati is the Manager for the UF Health Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Program and works with leadership of both child psychiatry and psychology clinical programing.