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Savannah Bonorden, DHAT


Specialty: Dental Health Aide Therapist

Location: Sitka →


SEARHC-PORTRAIT---Gebler

Kelly Gebler, CRNA


Specialty: Anesthesiology

Locations: Sitka → Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) →

Certification: National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)

Education & Experience:

Kelly’s experience at SEARHC includes serving many years as a registered nurse before becoming a CRNA. Prior to coming to work at SEARHC in 2004, she worked as a traveling nurse throughout the country.

She first came to Alaska in the summer of 2000 on a kayaking trip and returned in 2001 to continue her nursing career.

Ms. Gebler received her nursing degree St. Vincent Health Center in Erie, Pennsylvania, her Bachelor of Science Nursing from Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences in Orlando, Florida, and a Master of Science Nurse Anesthesia (MSNA) from Adventist University in Orlando, Florida.

Awards & Honors:

Adventist University Nursing Honor Society Suma Cum Laude

Special Interests:

Kelly is particularly interested in medical mission trips and other philanthropic medical endeavors.

She spends her free time kayaking and hiking.


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Carole Knuth, PA-C


Specialty: Family Medicine

Locations: Pelican → Sitka →

Certification: National Commission of Certification of Physician Assistants

Education & Experience:

Ms. Knuth earned her master of science in health professions at University of Florida School of Physician Assistant Studies.


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Jill Reid, BSPharm


Specialty: Pharmacy

Locations: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) → Sitka →

Education & Experience:

Ms. Reid is the Pharmacy Manager at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka.


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John Fulton, PharmD


Specialty: Pharmacy

Locations: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) → Sitka →


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Rob Sulzbach, PharmD


Specialty: Pharmacy

Locations: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) → Sitka →

Education & Experience:

Robert obtained his doctorate degree in pharmacy from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. 

Previous to working at SEARHC, Robert was a Pharmacist on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, AZ and a Munitions Systems Specialist in the US Air Force. 

Now a member of the SEARHC team, Robert says he is “thrilled for the opportunity to work for SEARHC and to be involved with the patients and providers at all of the various clinics and villages in such an amazing part of the world.”

Awards & Honors:

US Public Health Service Commendation Medal for service to patients on hemodialysis. 

Special Interests:

Robert is interested in all things pharmacy; especially clinical pharmacy and remote outreach to patients and providers in villages. 

In his spare time, Robert loves fishing and hunting, hiking, boating, and spending time with his family. 


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J. Dwight Pierson, PharmD


Specialty: Pharmacy

Locations: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) → Sitka →


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Kaitlyn “Kati” McAfee, PharmD  


Specialty: Pharmacy

Locations: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) → Sitka →

Certification: Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist

Education & Experience:

Kati graduated from Ferris State University College of Pharmacy in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Prior to working for SEARHC, Kati worked at Trinity Health’s Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, MI. She complete her residency at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, ID.

Now, as a member of the SEARHC team, Kati believes that the continuity of care within SEARHC (which is possible through the use of a shared medical records), allows for safer and more effective patient care. In this way, pharmacists, physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers collaborate for the benefit of the patients. 

Special Interests:

Kati’s work related interests include medication education and patient empowerment, ambulatory care, infectious disease stewardship, and medication reconciliation and optimization. 

In her personal time, Katy enjoys water sports, snowboarding, horseback riding and exploring Alaska with her husband. 


SEARHC-PORTRAIT---Helmick

William Helmick, PA


Specialty: Orthopedic Surgery

Locations: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) → Sitka →

Education & Experience:

Bill is a Physicians Assistant with a strong emphasis in orthopedics and surgery. 

Before coming to SEARHC, Bill was a graduate of Pacific University where he graduated with a master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies. He also worked in orthopedic surgery and care in Portland Oregon.

Bill has extensive experience with but not limited to the management of injuries, spinal evaluations and surgery, pre and post-operative patients, arthroscopy and arthroplasty, and casting, splinting, and reductions. 

Prior to his career at SEARHC, he was previously a Navy Corpsman. Bill was also an Orthopedic Technician in Hermiston, Oregon and an Orthopedic Physician Assistant in Portland, Oregon. 

Special Interests:

He enjoys hunting, fishing and hiking. 


SEARHC PROVIDER - Thomas Jordan

Thomas Jordan, DMD


Specialty: Dentistry

Location: Sitka →

Education & Experience:

Thomas obtained his DMD from Oregon Health Sciences University. 

His career started in Ketchikan with IHS and Thomas has been working for SEARHC since 1992. 

Thomas is proud to be a part of the many advances in providing dental care to SEARHC patients.

Special Interests:

While Thomas provides comprehensive dental care, he specializes in removable prosthodontics. 

Away from the office, Thomas loves fishing, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with friends and family. 


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Jerilyn VanFossen, FNP, ANP


Specialty: Family Medicine

Location: Sitka →

Certification: American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

Education & Experience:

Jerilyn VanFossen received her Master of Science in Nursing from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Prior to arriving at SEARHC, Jerilyn worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner at White Oak Pediatric and Adult Medicine in Hagerstown, Maryland. 

She believes joining the SEARHC community at Sitka Medical Center enables her to continue her commitment to compassionate healthcare– through the provision of quality primary care for the individual, family, community of Sitka and surrounding region. Jerilyn also looks forward to providing primary healthcare across the life spectrum – from pediatric to adult.  She brings years of experience in primary, critical, emergency, and medical/surgical care. 

Special Interests:

Professionally, Family medicine is Jerilyn’s passion. It’s diversity embraces the health and wellness of not only the individual, but  encompasses the family and community as well. She finds it exciting to engage in the collaborative process of healthcare from the care of a newborn, to celebrating the growth and development achievements of a child, to promoting health throughout adulthood.

Outside the clinic, Jerilyn bring a lot of enthusiasm (which  she claims does not always correlate to skill) to outdoor activities like surfing, snowboarding, and hiking. Additionally, her stick-figure artwork has been featured prominently on several fridges.


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Robert Hunter, MD


Specialties: Geriatrics, Internal Medicine

Location: Sitka →

Certification: Internal Medicine and Geriatrics

Education & Experience:

Dr. Robert Hunter completed his undergraduate studies at Brown University in Providence, RI. He went to medical school and received his MD at Case-Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH.

Dr. Hunter has practiced at Sitka Medical Center and Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital since 1980. He claims it is a privilege to join a fine team of professionals like the SEARHC family of providers.

Special Interests:

Professionally, Dr. Hunter’s special interests are cardiology, geriatrics, gastroenterology and opioid addiction. Outside the clinic he enjoys hiking, pickle ball and opera.


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Helen D. Dangel, MS


Specialty: Behavioral Health - Clinician

Location: Sitka →

Education & Experience:

Helen received her Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology at Alaska Pacific University. Prior, she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Natural Resource Policy/Environmental Sciences from Evergreen State College. 

Prior to working at SEARHC, Helen worked with severely mentally ill clients at Anchorage Community Mental Health Services. She also worked at Sitka Tribe of Alaska in the natural resources department. 

Helen is “overjoyed and proud to return home to Sitka and work for SEARHC to help people in my community.”

Awards & Honors:

Judson L. Brown Leadership Award from Sealaska Heritage Foundation.

Special Interests:

Helen is interested professionally in couples counseling, complex trauma, intergenerational trauma, culturally sensitive counseling, and counseling Alaska Natives. Helen did her master’s thesis on “Healing through cultural expression: Weaving to improve mental wellness with Alaska Native women.”

In her free time, Helen enjoys ravenstail and spruce root basket weaving, wool spinning, knitting, hiking with my family, traditional Alaska Native ethnobotany (plant use),  and Alaska Native culture.


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Roman Rodriguez, MD


Specialty: Behavioral Health - Psychiatry

Locations: Sitka → Juneau →

Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc.

Education & Experience:

Dr. Rodriguez brings decades of valuable experience in psychiatry. He received his degree from the University of California, San Francisco. 

Prior to working for SEARHC, Dr. Rodriguez worked in Private Practice and for Kaiser Permanente. 

He “especially enjoys the collaborative teamwork of various specialties working at SEARHC.”

Special Interests:

His medical interests include Child and Adolescent Psychiatry while he enjoys foreign travel in his personal time. 


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Jeffrey S. Lockwood, CRNA, MSNA


Specialty: Anesthesiology

Location: Sitka →

Certification: National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists

Education & Experience:

Jeffrey received his bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Washington State University before obtaining his masters of science in Nursing Anesthesia from University of New England. 

Previously, Jeffrey worked for Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital, both located in Spokane, Washington. 

Awards & Honors:

Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society

Special Interests:

His medical interests include Rural Practice and Regional Anesthesia. 

Personally, Jeffrey enjoys going on adventures with his wife, catching abnormally large fish, globetrotting, hunting with his dog Hank, backpacking to obscure parts of the wild and enjoying all the Last Frontier has to offer.


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Donald R. Lehmann, MD


Specialties: Sports Medicine, Family Medicine

Location: Sitka →

Certification: American Board of Family Medicine

Education & Experience:

Dr. Lehmann received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Minnesota and performed his residency at the University of Washington. 

He has practiced for the last 30 years in Sitka, with outreach and consultation to the Bethel Family Clinic, Camai Community Health Center in Naknek, Seward Community Health Center, and Sports Medicine Fairbanks.

Awards & Honors:
  • Honorary Life Member, Alaska Chapter, American College of Sports Medicine
  • Fellow, American College of Sports Medicine
  • Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, Alaska School Activities Association
Special Interests:

Dr. Lehmann’s medical interests include Sports Medicine, Primary Care Orthopedics, and acting as the Medical Director for Alaska High School State Tournaments — Wrestling, Football, Baseball, Roller Derby and Dance.

In his free time, he enjoys island living, traveling and cooking. 


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Supriya Mathur Gianchandani, MD


Specialty: Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT)

Location: Sitka →

Certification: American Board of Otolaryngology

Education & Experience:

Dr. Mathur received her doctorate from Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, India. She had an internship and performed her residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Mathur worked at the Alaska native medical center from 2003 to 2011. This gave her an opportunity to cover the ENT needs of the indigenous population of state of Alaska meeting the unique challenges of taking care of patients living in remote areas . There she had a rich experience learning to do a lot of complex ear cases combined with a wide plethora of other interesting ENT problems including facial fractures, head neck cancers , salivary gland diseases , deep neck infections and many other routine ENT cases .She also had the opportunity to be exposed to innovative technologies including telemedicine. From 2011 to 2015 to Mathur practiced at Kaiser in Harbor city. There her focus was more on adult patients doing more complex sinus cases and thyroid surgeries . Since April 2016 Dr. Mathur has been working on an intermittent basis with Alaska native medical center and now is going to be working with SEARHC at Sitka.

Speaking about joining SEARHC, Dr. Mathur said she “fell in love with Alaska and am excited to be working in the beautiful community of Sitka . Providing care to remote communities is very appealing to me.”

Special Interests:

Dr. Mathur’s work related interests include pediatrics, otology and rhinology , volunteer and humanitarian medicine.

In her personal time, Dr. Mathur enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. She has 2 boys and they all love spending time in the outdoors hiking skiing and snorkeling. Yoga helps her find a  work and life balance and take care of her mind and body. For relaxation and unwinding, reading a book or listening to music are her personal remedy. 


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Jerry Z. Ainsworth, MD


Specialty: Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT)

Location: Sitka →

Certification: American Board of Otolaryngology

Education & Experience:

Dr. Ainsworth earned a medical degree at Baylor Medical School in Houston, Texas and completed a fellowship in otology at Baylor Medical School.

Special Interests:

Dr. Ainsworth has a special interest in ear, nose, and throat treatment.


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Mary Barrett, NP


Specialty: Family Medicine

Location: Sitka →

Certification: Mary is certified as family nurse practitioner (FNP-BC) by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and as an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) by the Alaska Board of Nursing

Education & Experience:

Mary holds a Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and environmental science from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. An Alaskan for 30 years before joining SEARHC in July 2012, Mary previously worked in family practice and urgent care with clinics in Palmer and Wasilla, worked in urgent care in Anchorage, was an outpatient department registered nurse (RN) and public health nurse (PHN) in Kotzebue, and a RN at the Providence Hospital Thermal Unit and Progressive Care Unit in Anchorage. Mary specializes in family practice and urgent care, and she will work in S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital’s urgent care department.

Special Interests:

Mary is interested in preventive medicine, especially through nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction. She enjoys running (she has completed the New York and Boston marathons), botany, bird-watching (and learning the species unique to Southeast Alaska), plant-based cooking, hiking, biking, singing, dancing, reading and playing with her two cats.


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Megan Dempster, PT, DPT


Specialty: Physical Therapy

Locations: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) → Sitka →

Certification: Physical Therapy License

Education & Experience:

Megan received her Bachelor of Science, Exercise Science degree from the University of Montana and earned a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She has practiced at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, AK, and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Special Interests:

Professionally, Megan has a special interest in women’s health and yoga. Personally, she enjoys hiking, soccer, snowboarding, outdoor activities with her dog, and yoga.


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Jeffery L. Bentley, PA-C


Specialty: Urgent/Emergent Care

Locations: Sitka → Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) →

Certification: National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), August 2009. Wilderness Advanced Life Support – Wilderness Medical Associates International 2012.

Education & Experience:

Master of Physician Assistant Studies from Oregon Health & Sciences University School of Medicine, Portland, Oregon. Master of Science degree with an emphasis in Exercise Science and Nutrition from Southern Oregon University. Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion/Fitness Management from Southern Oregon University.

Prior to physician assistant school, Jeff worked for the Klamath Tribes of Southern Oregon managing their diabetic and pre-diabetes programs. His experience there spurred his desire to become a medical provider and therefore he sought physician assistant school in Portland, Oregon. During his clinical training, Jeff completed a rotation at the Haines Medical Clinic under Dr. Russ Bowman. Jeff’s medical experience prior to moving to Sitka was with several specialty practices in Southern Oregon. He assisted the general, vascular, and bariatric surgeons at Oregon Surgical Specialists for several years. During that time, he performed duties with the trauma service, first assisted in the operating room and cared for patients in the hospital and clinic. He also worked several years with Southern Oregon Internal Medicine, an outpatient adult internal medicine practice specializing in Endocrinology.

Jeff is excited about the variety of medical conditions presenting to Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital’s emergency and urgent care departments and enjoys exploring Southeast Alaska with his family.

Awards & Honors:

Most Outstanding Graduating Senior in Health Promotion Program – Southern Oregon University; Graduated Cum Laude – Southern Oregon University; Three time NAIA Academic All-American; Three time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Track & Field All-American; Five time Track & Field Cascade Collegiate Conference Champion; Cascade Collegiate Conference Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year – 2001.

Special Interests:

Jeff’s medical interests are wilderness medicine, expedition and remote medicine. Also health promotion/disease prevention of American Indian and Alaskan Native people.

Outside MEH, Jeff enjoys time with his wife and three children. He is active in sprint triathlons and bicycle riding. Jeff enjoys outdoor camping, archery hunting, fishing, and waterskiing as well.


SEARHC PORTRAIT - David Brown

David Brown, MD


Specialty: Orthopedic Surgery

Location: Sitka →

Certification: American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons

Education & Experience:

Dr. Brown has extensive experience in orthopedics, with a special interest in adult reconstruction and complex trauma. His unique background as a military orthopedic surgeon, as well as being an orthopedic surgeon in a remote part of Alaska, has given him broad experience and proficiency with complex injuries. After being on active duty as an infantry officer and spending time with military athletes, Dr. Brown became interested in orthopedics.

He went to medical school and then returned to active duty as an army physician. He spent 11 years at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, the military’s only level 1 trauma and burn center. During that time, he did a tour in Afghanistan and was the Commander of a Forward Surgical Team, leading a 20-man surgical team and providing care for a wide array of complex trauma patients.

After retiring from the army and before joining SEARHC, Dr. Brown spent several years as an orthopedic surgeon at a critical access hospital in Southeast Alaska, where he provided orthopedic services for trauma, total joints, hands, sports, and pediatric patients.

David says he enjoys helping people with complex injuries and helping them return to an active life.

Awards & Honors:

Bronze Star Medal, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan 

Special Interests:

David really enjoys active time with his family, mountain biking, winter sports, hunting, and fishing.


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Abbey Cohen


Specialty: Behavioral Health - Clinician

Location: Sitka →


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Somerset M. “Somer” Dunn, AUD, CCC-A


Specialty: Audiology

Location: Sitka →

Certification: American Academy of Audiology

Education & Experience:

Somer Dunn earned her Audiology Doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in psychology and speech, language and hearing sciences. She comes to SEARHC from Colorado, where she worked in a six-physician otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) practice that included four audiologists.

Awards & Honors:

Somer holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) credential from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and she is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (F-AAA).

Special Interests:

Somer enjoys all aspects of audiology. She also loves to ski and hike, and she loves trying new foods.


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Traci Gale, PharmD

SEARHC Director of Pharmacy

Specialty: Pharmacy

Locations: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (S'ÁXT' HÍT) → Sitka →

Education & Experience:

Ms. Gale earned her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She started her career as a staff pharmacist at the Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center on the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon. Traci was the Acting Director of Pharmacy when she decided to work in hospital pharmacy. She moved to Sitka to accept a job at Mt. Edecumbe Hospital. Traci started in Sitka as a staff pharmacist and eventually moved into the role of Assistant Chief, then Chief of Pharmacy for MEH. She now serves as the Directory of Pharmacy for SEARHC.

Traci has been working for SEARHC since 1995. She fell in love with the people and the community and decided to make Sitka her home. During her many years with SEARHC Traci says she has met many wonderful people who have been willing to share their culture, their experiences and their families with her and have trusted her to take care of them.

Awards & Honors:

MEH Staff of the Season; US Public Health Service Commendation Medal; Field Medical Readiness Badge; Outstanding Unit Citation; Caring Employee of the Month; Crisis Response Service Award; Quality Improvement Award; Certificate of Appreciation; Public Health Service Citation; and Unit Commendation

Special Interests:

Professionally Traci enjoys expanding the role of pharmacists in the management of chronic diseases to improve the quality of life of the people she serves.

Outside the office, Traci loves to read, hike and camp in beautiful Southeast Alaska. She also enjoys teaching kickboxing classes and skating in roller derby.


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Jessica M. Holland, RD, LD


Specialty: Nutrition

Location: Sitka →

Certification: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Registered Dietitian

Education & Experience:

Jessica Holland received a B.S. in Psychology from Northwestern State University, Louisiana. She received her B.A. in Dietetics and completed a Dietetics Internship at Idaho State University. Jessica also received practicum experience at Eastern Idaho Medical Center, Rocky Mountain Diabetes Center, Idaho Falls Kidney Center, Pocatello Cardiology, and Pocatello Cancer Center.

She says, “It has been a great opportunity to be a part of the SEARHC community. I enjoy being able to help provide healthcare to the wonderful people of Southeast Alaska.”

Special Interests:

Jessica’s professional interests are nutrition and diabetes.


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Kristen L. Homer, NP


Specialty: Primary Care

Location: Sitka →

Certification: American Nurses Credentialing Center

Education & Experience:

Homer holds a Master of Science in Nursing degree and certificate in nursing from the Yale University School of Nursing. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and anthropology from Middlebury College. She is board certified as a family nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Before joining the staff at the SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe High School Student Health Center, Kristen spent 6 1/2 years working at the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka Medical Clinic. Before that, she was a public health nurse with the state’s Sitka Public Health Center and a community health aide/practitioner supervisor/field clinician for SEARHC. Kristen also has worked with Planned Parenthood of Alaska. She first came to Sitka as a health-planning intern with the SEARHC in 1990. Before that, she worked in tribal health with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa in Michigan.

Special Interests:

Kristen has medical interests in pediatrics, adolescent and women’s health. She also enjoys reading, hiking, running and spending time with her family.


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Kari Lundgren, Behavioral Health Clinician


Specialty: Behavioral Health - Clinician

Location: Sitka →

Certification: National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants

Education & Experience:

Kari earned a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Special Interests:

Kari is clinic administrator for the Mt. Edgecumbe High School Student Health Center. She enjoys serving as a “floating clinician” for SEARHC’s community-based clinics and the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau.


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Alice Nunes, DDS


Specialty: Dentistry

Location: Sitka →

Education & Experience:

Dr. Nunes is graduate of the University of Washington School of Dentistry where she received her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. She also completed a two-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry degree from Lutheran Medical Center. Alice received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College/Columbia University in New York.

Prior to working at SEARHC as a dentist, Dr. Nunes was a dental assistant for SEARHC and participated in the Rural Under-Served Opportunities Program through the University of Washington.

Special Interests:

Dr. Nunes is interested in all aspects of general dentistry, especially fillings, crowns, oral surgery, and root canals.

Personally, Alice enjoys outdoor activities such as running and hiking. She has participated in more than a handful of marathons, including the Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage and the Boston Marathon. She even spent a few years as a dog handler and musher in Bethel, Alaska.


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Mandie L. Smith, DDS


Specialty: Dentistry

Location: Sitka →

Education & Experience:

Dr. Smith earned her Doctor of Dental Science degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. She also completed a two-year residency at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. in Bethel through Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Texas in Austin. Dr. Smith holds the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Officer Corps, and she spent five years at YKHC in Bethel before moving to Sitka to work for SEARHC.

Awards & Honors:

Dr. Smith was awarded the Indian Health Service’s Excellence in Clinical Dentistry Award in 2005 and she has won several other U.S. Public Health Service awards.

Special Interests:

Dr. Smith has medical interests in TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues, complex medically compromised patients, complex restorative dentistry, and pediatrics. She also enjoys hiking, fishing, and enjoying her two young sons.


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Parcae K. Soule, LPC, CDC-2

Program Manager for Community Family Services

Specialty: Behavioral Health - Clinician

Location: Sitka →

Certification: State of Alaska (LPC), Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification (CDC-2)

Education & Experience:

Parcae earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., and she earned a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling (MMHC) from Walden University. She holds Licensed Professional Counselor and Chemical Dependency Counselor 2 credentials from the State of Alaska.

Awards & Honors:

Parcae is a member of the Walden Chapter of Psi Chi, an international honor society in psychology.

Special Interests:

Parcae enjoys spending time outdoors. Parcae works as a behavioral health clinician at the Haa Toowóo Náakw Hít outpatient behavioral health clinic in Sitka. Before that, she worked as a behavioral health clinician with the SEARHC Yéil Jeeyáx Raven’s Way adolescent substance abuse treatment program.


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Pamela Steffes, OD


Specialty: Optometry

Location: Sitka →

Certification: Diplomate, American Board of Optometry. Fellow of the American College of Medical Optometrists (ACMO). Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.

Education & Experience:

Dr. Steffes earned a Doctor of Optometry degree from the Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, OR, and completed internships at Teplick Laser Center in Portland, OR, and The Children’s Eye Doctors in Redmond, Wash. She completed her Master of Business Administration at Washington State University.

Awards & Honors:

Dr. Steffes received the 2008 Caplan Award at the Biennial Indian Health Service Optometrist meeting. The award is recognition of “exemplary service and programmatic contributions” to the Public Health Service Optometry Program.

Special Interests:

Dr. Steffes provides a full range of eye care services to patients of all ages, including diabetic eye exams, contact lens services, refractive surgery co-management, and pediatric eye exams. Dr. Steffes also enjoys providing volunteer eye care services to those in need around the world, most recently traveling to Tanzania, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.


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Sul Ross “Sr” O. Thorward, MD


Specialty: Behavioral Health - Psychiatry

Location: Sitka →

Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (also serves as an examiner in general psychiatry for this organization).

Education & Experience:

Dr. Thorward earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Texas in Austin. Dr. Thorward completed an internship at Providence Hospital in Seattle and a psychiatric residency at Northwestern University in Chicago. In his more than 30 years as a psychiatrist and health care administrator, Dr. Thorward has served as a unit director of San Antonio State Hospital in Texas; director of outpatient and short-term services for Harding Hospital in Columbus, Ohio; chief of behavioral health at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash.; president and CEO of Harding Hospital; administrative director for the Ohio State University-Harding Hospital after the hospital’s merger with the university; a psychiatrist for the Ohio Department of Mental Health; and a member of the Board of Trustees for OSU-Harding Hospital.

Awards & Honors:

In 2008, Dr. Thorward received the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a three-time winner of the Outstanding Faculty award from The Ohio State University.

Special Interests:

Dr. Thorward’s medical interests are community health systems, advocacy for mental health and health care financing. His personal interests include the Seventh Day Adventist Church, photography, hiking, theater, and fishing.


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Irbert L. Vega, MD, AAHIVS


Specialty: Family Medicine

Location: Sitka →

Certification: American Academy of Family Physicians

Education & Experience:

Dr. Irbert Vega completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. He obtained his medical degree at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Vega completed his residency in the Lancaster General Health, Family Medicine Residency Program in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Vega is excited about living in Southeast Alaska. He finds that the geography, natural resources, and cultures that comprise the area make it an inspiring place to practice family medicine.

Special Interests:

Dr. Vega’s medical interests cover the full spectrum of family medicine. His interests include the care of people who are HIV positive and medical education.


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Kelly A. Whitcomb-Tincher, RD LD


Specialty: Nutrition

Location: Sitka →

Certification: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Registered Dietitian

Education & Experience:

Kelly graduated with honors from Western Kentucky University. She completed her Dietetic Internship at Morehead State University with hospital rotations at The Medical Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky; Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (MEH) in Sitka, Alaska; and Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) in Anchorage, Alaska.


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Mark White, LPC CDC II


Specialty: Behavioral Health - Clinician

Location: Sitka →

Education & Experience:

Mark White is “honored to be part of the SEARHC Community and serving youth and families from across Alaska as part of the Raven’s Way Treatment team”. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Use of Wilderness from Prescott College in Arizona and a Masters degree in Counseling from Adams State University in Colorado.

He has worked as a Wilderness Expedition Specialist with the SEARHC Raven’s Way program; a counselor at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka; Head of School for Crested Butte Academy in Colorado; and Director of Quality for Axis Health System in Durango, Colorado. Mark is also a Mental Health First Aid Instructor (Adult and Youth).

Special Interests:

Mark’s professional interests include integrated healthcare, addiction and recovery. During his free time he enjoys subsistence fishing, family and life in Alaska.