MCHC Health Centers (MCHC) is expanding its pediatric practice with the arrival of pediatricians Dr. Anne Martin-Ko and Dr. Casey Johnston, as well as family nurse practitioners Jeni Guth-Crouch and Cindi Mockel. These four providers have been in practice together in Ukiah and they are enthusiastic about continuing their teamwork for the benefit of patients at MCHC, where they will care for new and established patients.
Dr. Martin-Ko said, “Anyone and everyone can receive care at Hillside Health Center. However, if you are insured by Partnership HealthPlan of California, you need to let them know you’re moving your care to MCHC before the end of December if you want to be seen in January.” She invites Partnership patients who would like to maintain care with her or any of the providers listed above to call the phone number on their insurance card before the end of the month so there is no interruption in care. If patients have any difficulties transferring care to MCHC, they can go to any MCHC Health Center site and the front reception staff will be happy to help them.
MCHC’s new pediatric providers will join existing providers to create a more robust pediatric practice. The team includes providers with decades of experience, as well as those who are newly trained on the latest techniques and technology. Each provider has a broad background in pediatrics as well as particular areas of expertise, and the team collaborates to make sure patients will benefit from this blend of knowledge and skill, according to MCHC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jerry Douglas.
Dr. Martin-Ko has been a pediatrician since 1989, when she began practicing in rural Walton, New York. In 1992, she moved to a small town in Pennsylvania where she served as the only pediatrician in the county for almost twenty years. Then, when her son chose to attend college in California, Dr. Martin-Ko and her husband came west. Dr. Martin-Ko began practicing in Ukiah in 2012.
In medical school, she decided to specialize in pediatrics because she said kids are real and with you in the moment. “There’s no faking it with kids and I can be myself,” she said. She talked about how much she enjoys developing long-term relationships with her patients and feels privileged to know her patients as they grow from tiny newborns to teens who are often taller than she is. She also shared her deep sense of satisfaction when she can empower patient families by educating them so they can make healthy choices.
Joining her is Dr. Casey Johnston, who recently completed her medical training. After earning a bachelor of science in Human Biology and a master’s degree in Anthropology from Sanford University, Dr. Johnston graduated from the UC Davis School of Medicine. She then completed her pediatric internship and residency at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Dr. Johnston and her husband (an emergency medicine physician) moved to Ukiah because they wanted to practice medicine in a rural environment and to raise their children in a small community. Dr. Johnston is passionate about preventive medicine and a holistic approach to care, an approach that considers a patient’s medical condition in the context of his or her social environment. She is a pediatrician whose residency training included a curriculum on complementary and integrative medicine, including yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
In addition to the pediatricians, two nurse practitioners will join the MCHC team. Guth-Crouch is a family nurse practitioner who knew she wanted to work in pediatrics from the time she was a child. “I always knew. I knew in first grade,” she said. Like Dr. Martin-Ko, Guth-Crouch appreciates the fact that children are genuine, honest and in the moment. “And they’re so fun! When I worked at Stanford Hospital, we used to have light wars with our light pens. The other nurses and I would make mobiles out of whatever we could find to entertain the babies. Of course, you have to do the hard stuff, but then you get to go back to playing,” she said. “It’s not quite the same with adult medicine.”
Mockel agrees and says, “Being a nurse practitioner in pediatrics is absolutely what I am supposed to be doing.” Like Guth-Crouch, she never had a doubt about where her career was headed. Mockel has been a family nurse practitioner caring for pediatric patients since 2009. She loves helping patients and families with complex problems, and has special training in cardiac care as well as otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat medicine). Mockel grew up in Mendocino County and has worked locally for most of her career, though she did work at UCSF on the Pediatric Cardiac Transitional Care Unit from 2006 – 2010 while completing her nurse practitioner training.
Mockel is says she “absolutely loves teaching” her patients and their families. She recognizes that, through no fault of their own, many young parents do not have the skills or knowledge they need to provide healthy environments for their children, and many do not know how to manage difficult parenting situations. Mockel does not judge them, but rather works to understand how best to help them, she explained.
As part of her interest in complex medical challenges, Mockel is currently working in partnership with UCSF on a local obesity clinic, helping patients and their families change their lifestyles so children can lose weight, feel better, and live longer.
Mockel and her colleagues said they are pleased to join MCHC for many reasons; one of the most important is MCHC’s comprehensive approach to health care. In addition to primary medical care, MCHC provides dentistry, women’s health, obstetrical care, counseling, psychiatry, and specialty care. The pediatric providers said they appreciate that regardless of what health problems their patients face, they will be supported by excellent colleagues and a broad array of resources.
Chief Operations Officer Jill Damian said MCHC Health Centers looks forward to continuing to meet the ever-expanding needs of the communities it serves. MCHC Health Centers includes Hillside Health Center in Ukiah, Little Lake Health Center in Willits and Lakeview Health Center in Lakeport. Learn more at www.mchcinc.org.