Dr. Dennis Alter to be honored at Flagler County's Golden Eagle Dinner

The orthopedic surgeon and former hospital chief of staff has served Palm Coast for 32 years.

Dr. Dennis Alter in his office at 21 Hospital Drive in Palm Coast. Photo by Brent Woronoff
Dr. Dennis Alter in his office at 21 Hospital Drive in Palm Coast. Photo by Brent Woronoff
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Palm Coast orthopedic surgeon Dennis Alter will be the honoree at the 2024 Flagler County Boy Scouts Golden Eagle Dinner on March 27 at the Hammock Dunes Club.

Dr. Dennis Alter stands in front of his Air Force medals. Photo by Brent Woronoff

Dr. Alter has been a pillar of the community since he moved to Flagler County with his family 32 years ago. He was a unanimous choice by the steering committee to be this year’s honoree, said Bob Snyder, the chair of he committee that organizes the dinner with Central Florida Council Field Director Halvern Johnson and District Executive Angie Huber.

The Golden Eagle Dinner is an annual fundraising event for Flagler County’s Boys Scouts. The goal this year, Snyder said, is to raise $45,000.

“We are keeping the Boys Scout movement in Flagler County prosperous for years to come,” Snyder said. “There are wonderful opportunities for both boys and girls in scouting. I was an Eagle Scout myself. I loved all the fun and adventure that scouting provides.”

Snyder, the former administrator at the Flagler County Health Department, was last year’s honoree. He said Lisa Gardner, the wife of Flagler County Property Appraiser Jay Gardner, tabbed Dr. Alter for the honor at the end of last year’s Golden Eagle event.

“Lisa pointed to Dr. Alter and said to Jay, ‘There’s your honoree for next year,’” Snyder said. “Jay shared that with the committee.

“Dr. Alter is a perfect choice,” Snyder added. “He’s a well known community leader, highly respected. He’s held leadership positions, has done community service and philanthropic activities for his church (St. Thomas Episcopal) and the hospital.”

Dr. Alter was chief of staff twice at AdventHealth Palm Coast, formerly Florida Hospital Flagler, chief of surgery and vice president of the medical staff. He and his wife, Laurie, were named Humanitarians of the Year in 2016 by the hospital’s foundation. They award the Alter Family Leadership Scholarship each year to a college-bound senior.

Dr. Alter provided free sports physicals to high school athletes who needed them in the 1990s, and early 2000s. Eventually, more doctors and nurses got involved, and AdventHealth now offers free sports physicals and ECG screenings to all Flagler Schools students in sixth through 12th grade.

“I did them personally in the locker room,” Dr. Alter said. “The coach would call me, and I’d go into the locker rooms and look at Johnny’s knee or whatever.”


Dr. Alter grew up in Boca Raton. He met Laurie, who is from Fort Pierce, when they were undergraduates at Florida Southern College in Lakeland in the late 1970s. They both went on to the University of South Florida where Laurie received her master’s in business administration and Dennis received his medical degree.

In order to afford medical school, he took an Air Force scholarship and went into active duty upon graduation. He interned at Andrew’s Air Force Base and then became a flight surgeon. The squadron he was assigned to included Air Force One.

“My job was to be the doctor on the missions. And so I traveled with the White House (staff),” he said. “It was crazy. I was just a kid. There's dedicated presidential medical people. But I was in charge of the aircraft and all the people on the aircraft as far as setting up. So, we're going to this country, here's what's endemic there. Here's what I’ve got to pack in my bag to protect my people. I literally traveled all over the world.”

After one year, he accepted an orthopedic residency at Bethesda Naval Hospital. 

“You can imagine, everybody in that hospital is Navy — white uniforms,” Dr. Alter said. “And I got my blue uniform on. Talk about standing out like a sore thumb.”

This job takes a lot of effort and energy and time, but you really make a difference.”

After four years in orthopedic residency at Bethesda — the last year as chief resident — and two years as an orthopedic surgeon at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, he and Laurie decided to move back to Florida to raise their young family. They settled in Palm Coast, then a small but growing community.

“I saw a lot of good things happening here,” he said. “It was like nothing's here, and they're going to make a town here, make a city here. So we really liked the situation.”

Dennis and Laurie have five children and eight grandchildren, and they all live in Florida.

“They’re in Tampa, St. Pete, St. Augustine and here, so we can gather on very short notice. So it's really been wonderful. And I still love what I do,” he said. “I've been doing it a long time. I don't take call anymore, so it's really manageable, but the reality is emergencies still happen. I'm responsible for the people I take care of, so it's not a nine to five job either.”

When he was on call, he’d work 100 to 120 hours a week, he estimates, and he used his free time helping raise his family and serving the community, which went hand in hand. He sponsored T-ball teams. He was on the sidelines for Flagler Palm Coast High School’s football games, serving as team doctor.

“(Moving here) was all about family, quality of life,” he said. “And thank God we did that, because all my kids are great people. This job takes a lot of effort and energy and time, but you really make a difference. I’ve spent a lot of time taking care of people in the community. And it’s super rewarding.”

For tickets or to donate, go to https://www.cflscouting.org/ged/ and click on Flagler dinner.


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