Our technicians are first trained in-house by our own experienced optometrist, Dr. Maria VanNurden, while they simultaneously work toward certification through the Joint Commission of Allied Personnel in Ophthalmology. Dr. VanNurden has a Master’s degree in Clinical optometry, which she utilized to train other optometrists—and now our technicians are greatly benefiting from this training opportunity. Along with the in-house training, our technicians are involved in hours of continuing education, training, seminars and testing through JCAHPO. Once they have completed their required training and time on the job, they may test for their Certifications, COA and COT. All of our technicians, whether they have not yet tested for certification or they are a COA or COT, also receive specific in-house training and testing to enable them to meet the requirements of a medical assistant-registered (MA-R) and are so licensed by the Washington State Department of Health. Additionally, all technicians are required to attend weekly training sessions given, on a rotating basis, by each of our doctors.
Kim Sawhill, BSN, RN
Kim Sawhill, BSN, RN came to us in January 2013 as our nurse scheduler for eye surgeries – on the clinic side. With six years of previous experience in the operating room, specifically working with cataract, glaucoma, and oculoplastic surgeries, Kim is uniquely qualified to help patients with the insights they need for their upcoming procedures, and calm any fears they might have. She considers herself blessed to have a job she truly enjoys – she looks forward to her work every day. She spends her free time traveling with her family, working in her garden, and tending to her bees and her chickens, which provide great entertainment.
Andrea Shick, COT
Andrea Shick, COT started with us in 1987 while still in high school, and continued working while obtaining her degree at Western Washington University. Andrea obtained her certification as an ophthalmic technician through the Joint Commission of Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) in 1999. Currently, Andrea is our clinical supervisor, having received extended training to perform multiple diagnostic tests and procedures. Andrea enjoys reading, theater and film, golf and traveling with her husband and daughter.
Les Freilinger, COT
Les Freilinger, COT has been an ophthalmic technician since 1986. Les has a surgical background in assisting both cataract and refractive surgery and has additional training in ophthalmic digital photography. He has wide experience with surgical instrument processing and circulating, and lends his skills to Cascade Valley Hospital on an on-call basis. He has received specialized training on the OCT, one of our high-tech measurement tools, and the WaveScan, which is an integral part of Customvue refractive surgery.
Ria Claassen, COT, OSA
Ria has been a technician with Whidbey Eye Care, and now a part of Cascadia Eye, since 1983. Every patient who has seen Dr. Cichowski over the years knows Ria well! In addition to being a certified ophthalmic technician, she is also is an OSA (ophthalmic surgical assistant) who has assisted Dr. Cichowski in surgeries for 34 years. Working in the same practice for so many years has given Ria the opportunity to develop a special relationship with many patients, a situation she thrives on. Her family lives in the Netherlands, where she was born and raised, but she has lived on Whidbey Island since 1977; she currently lives in Freeland with her husband and two cats. In her free time she enjoys reading, gardening, and the opera.
Melissa Orange, COT
Melissa Orange, COT has worked for Cascadia Eye as a technician since September 2005. She received her training on the job, and in 2007 she passed her certifying exam with the Joint Commission of Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO), then became an Ophthalmic Technician in 2013. As Dr. Pereira’s lead technician, Melissa welcomes the opportunity to continually learn new skills and expand her areas of expertise in the field of Ophthalmology. She also appreciates the time she gets to spend working directly with the patients, and enjoys getting to know them on a more individual basis while caring for their needs.
Michelle Heiner, CNA, COT
Michelle Heiner joined the clinic in 2008, and has since acquired certifications as an ophthalmic assistant (COA), a nurse assistant (CNA), and most recently as an ophthalmic technician (COT). She also serves on the safety committee and is our technician training coordinator, as well as Dr. Crowell’s lead technician. She finds her job fascinating, especially the fact that each eye is different and every condition has a story. She also enjoys talking about refractive and cataract surgery to patients, since she had PRK herself and worked in the surgery center previously.
Liz Farnsworth, COA
Elizabeth Farnsworth joined Cascadia Eye in September of 2009. Although she has worked with all our doctors, she primarily serves as Dr. Crowell‘s scribe and also assists with her minor surgeries in Sedro Woolley. Patients love her thoroughness and expertise, knowing they will have a very quality exam. Liz also graduated from college with a degree in art, and has designed some beautiful jewelry pieces for our optical that also serve as holders for reading glasses.
Kasey Baker, COT
Kasey Baker, COT began working at Cascadia Eye in November 2010. A lifelong local, she has a Bachelor’s degree from WWU, grew up in Bow, and married her high school sweetheart from BEHS. Kasey obtained her certification as an ophthalmic technician through JCAHPO in February 2014. Her primary role is as Dr. Pereira’s scribe, teaching for other doctors on his off days. Her favorite part of her job is seeing the improvement over time in the quality of life of surgery patients. In Kasey’s free time, she enjoys CrossFit, fishing, and traveling.
Kristen Janda, COA
Kristen Janda, COA has been at Cascadia Eye since January 2010, starting out as a receptionist and later cross-training into the technician world. She received her certification as an ophthalmic assistant in 2012. Her versatility is appreciated, as is her kindness and enthusiasm for her job, which she finds challenging and extremely rewarding. She lives in Skagit Valley with her three boys.
Darcy Anderson, COT
Darcy Anderson is an integral part of our team. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. After joining us in October 2011, she spend several years working in our Stanwood location, cross-training in reception and optical. Darcy became a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant in 2012 and a Certified Ophthalmic Technician in 2015. She has now taken on the task of Technician Personnel manager. Darcy enjoys reading, gardening and traveling. Her favorite activity is hiking with her dog, Ocho!
Sarah Green, COA
Sarah Green began as a receptionist in 2009, and then became a technician six months later. Loved by patients in both departments, she makes it her goal to bring a smile to the face of every person she helps, making them feel welcome and at home. She routinely works with each of our doctors and clinics, and especially enjoys observing and assisting with surgeries. In addition to tech work for our surgeons, she also enjoys scribing for our pediatric eye care doctors and loves being able to be versatile in different departments, such as helping in the front office and even changing nose pads or making minor glasses adjustments if the opticians need an extra hand. In her free time, Sarah likes to stay active by hiking and traveling, and likes to relax by reading and playing piano.
Claire Knutson, COA
Claire Knutson first started here in 2004, and then joined us again in 2012 after taking a break to raise her young children. She has experience in multiple areas of eye care, including working as a surgery scheduler, an optician, and a technician specializing in contact lenses, and received her COA in 2017. Claire really enjoys the diversity of her job, and especially enjoys hands-on work. She makes it her personal goal to devote whatever time is necessary to make sure her patients have all their questions answered and needs met. Outside of work, she loves art and outdoor activities, particularly camping with her family.
Nikki Driver, COA
Nikki Driver joined us in early 2014. Before that, she began her career in ophthalmology in 2011 as a receptionist with a desire to move forward as a technician. She completed her tech training here at Cascadia Eye, and became certified September 2015. She is a certified Wavescan operator and assists with pre-op care and measurements for LASIK patients. She finds eyes fascinating and plans to be a tech for many years to come; she especially loves connecting with every patient and learning his or her story, while still making sure each exam is accomplished with care and efficiency. Born and raised in Skagit Valley, Nikki loves spending time outdoors and on the water. She plays co-ed softball with her husband and their friends, and has two handsome boys, Bayker and Everest.
Ashley joined in 2014 as part of Whidbey Eye Center, where she received her training. Now she is an integral part of Cascadia Eye in Coupeville, assisting both Dr. Cichowski and Dr. Adkins in retinal injections and also acting as scribe for the doctors. She loves being able to take care of her patients, getting to know most of them on a personal level. She especially loves being able to see patients after cataract surgery and see the improvement in their everyday life from it. Her roots on Whidbey Island are deep — she is a lifelong resident of Whidbey Island and the fifth generation of her family in Oak Harbor, where she lives with her husband. For fun she loves to quilt, and always has some project going. She was a graphic design major at George Fox University in Oregon! Ashley also loves seafood (catching and eating it), and spending time with her family.
Charlotte Barilleaux, COA
Charlotte became one of our techs in Spring 2015, but has been an certified ophthalmic technician since 1990! She started working in an ophthalmology clinic in 1986 – almost as long as Cascadia Eye has existed. She particularly loves working with seniors, especially nursing home residents, and says it’s a joy to give them a hug or a laugh when needed. Born and raised in Texas, Charlotte and her husband lived there for 32 years before moving to Washington in 2015. They look forward to exploring the outdoor life of the PNW. She misses Texas food – but not the heat!
Maria Braymer, COA
Maria Braymer joined our ophthalmic technicians in September 2015 and received her certification in October 2016. Her favorite part of being a technician is connecting with patients, especially if she can see their eye health improve first-hand at follow-up appointments (and get to know them better, too). Maria has an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Schoolcraft College in Michigan, where she grew up. She has also lived in Las Vegas, before moving to Washington with her husband while he was in the Navy. She and her husband now live in Burlington with their cat, Charlie. She loves live music, trying new recipes, and spending time with friends.
Kelsey Freeman started working as a tech in March 2016, and finds eyes to be complex and fascinating. She currently serves as Dr. Siapco’s scribe. Her favorite part of technician work is refractions, where a tech can use the phoropter to get a patient seeing 20/20 again with the right lens prescription. She says it’s just like magic. Kelsey’s background is eclectic – she previously worked as a caregiver and a barista, and studied Theology and English at Walla Walla University. She went to high school in Mount Vernon, and currently lives in the Skagit Valley with her husband and a fluffy border-collie mix they love to take hiking on the weekends. She also likes reading (Jane Austen is one of her favorite authors), playing board games, and enjoying good food.
Jacqueline Nottis joined us as an ophthalmic technician in July 2016. Her first career was in developmental psychology – specifically child development – and she had her first research published on the subject at age 22! She applied her knowledge to teach preschool for several years, before getting the itch to learn something brand new. When she discovered technician training, she knew it was just what she wanted to start doing. With relatives who were long-term patients of Cascadia Eye, she was excited to become part of our team, and she especially loves helping patients feel comfortable and relaxed during their exam. Jacqueline was born and raised in Mount Vernon, coming from a large local family with strong roots in the valley. She has huge weekly family get-togethers, loves doing home improvement projects and furniture refinishing with her husband, and riding bikes on the beautiful Port of Skagit trails.
Braelyn Silva joined our team of technicians in January 2017, working with all of our doctors in multiple locations. She graduated from Skagit Valley College and also has training as a nurse assistant. She particularly enjoys performing the refractometry and evaluating patients’ eyes with the slit lamp; she is fascinated by the unique nature of each person’s eye and loves looking at them up close to discover new things. Braelyn lives in Conway with Daniel, her high-school sweetheart and now husband, who built their first home together. She is close with family and loves spending time hiking in the Pacific NW. She also enjoys thrift shopping, true crime, and watching football.
Katrina Murphy became an ophthalmic tech in March 2017. She originally received a BA in English (with honours) from Trinity Western University in British Columbia, but finds her job as a technician very rewarding — especially the feeling of playing a small role in improving someone’s vision and quality of life. For that reason, she especially loves post-operative appointments. She also enjoys hearing all sorts of stories about her patients and their eyes. She moved to Mount Vernon to be near family in the area…and also because she loves mountains!
Terese Fink joined us in April 2017. She came to us with experience: previously she was a tech at Confluence Health in Wenatchee in the ophthalmology department. Her favorite part of being a tech is performing the refractometry for patients. Originally from Wenatchee, Terese now lives in Arlington with her husband, who she just married in April 2017. She loves to play piano, sing, and hike in her spare time, as well as being involved in her church. Fun fact: Terese also has a BA in organizational communications.
Sara Shouse joined us in July 2017 as a welcome part of our Whidbey Island team. She loves being able to use refraction to discover and meet a patient’s visual needs and potentially change their life. She also loves working with her teammates in Coupeville. She is simultaneously working toward a BA in Anthropology from Western Washington University, and in her previous career she was actually an archaeologist working in San Diego! She still keeps up with all the current research in archaeology. She also likes to spend her free time baking, knitting, and reading as much as she possibly can. A transplant from California, she says she loves the cold, snow, and rain of the Pacific Northwest.
Barbara Aronson, CMA
Barbara Aronson joined our technicians in August 2017. She comes to us with a certification as a medical assistant, and is simultaneously working on a Bachelors Degree in Human Services. She worked as a Medical Assistant in the OB/GYN field for the previous seven years, and was excited about the challenge of learning something new. She and her daughter moved from Florida to the Pacific Northwest to be with her husband, who is stationed here. Her son is also trying to join the Navy! She is happy to have her whole family together after four years. Outside of work, she loves photography, reading, and any outdoor activities she can spend with her family, especially off-grid. She is a runner — doing multiple half marathons, 10ks, 5ks, and relays. Fun fact: she ran with Disney’s Princess Half Marathon in Florida with daughter and husband just before he deployed (she is also a Disney fanatic!).
Nina Goddeau, COA
Nina Goddeau joined Cascadia Eye in August 2017. Originally from upstate New York, she now lives on Whidbey Island and is part of our Coupeville team. She comes to us with 11+ years of experience in eyecare, and especially ophthalmic tech. She spent nearly ten years as a COA and scribe in an eyecare clinic in New York, and then two years as COA and front desk at Island Eye Care (fun fact: she worked with Dr. Johnson in New York, too!). On top of that, Nina has an Associates in Applied Sciences MLT, and an Associates in Social Science and Humanities from Clinton Community College, NY. In her free time she loves doing community work with the Penn Cove Water Festival and working with the Central Whidbey Lions Club, which makes her a perfect fit for Cascadia Eye. She loves walking the beaches and watching sunsets on Whidbey Island. She also enjoys canning, gardening, and playing with her granddaughter.
Heather Miears joined in October of 2017. She went to Western Washington University, where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, and continued on to receive a Masters in Chemistry. She joined us after deciding to use her passion for science to help others. As a research scientist, she finds she particularly enjoys using and learning new eye instruments. Heather is originally from North Pole, Alaska (not the real North Pole!) and currently lives in Bellingham with her significant other and their cats. She loves animals, cooking, watercoloring, and spending time with her family.
Clare German became a technician with us in October 2017 and is excited knowing she can play a part in helping people improve their vision. Previously she received a BS from UC San Diego, having lived in San Fancisco, CA. Currently she lives on Whidbey Island with her husband and their lab, Lana. She loves exploring her new home and says she has fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest. Her favorite activities are hiking with her dog, reading any book she can get her hands on, watching baseball, and playing board games.
Contact Cascadia Eye
For more information on our eye care professionals and the procedures they provide, or to schedule a consultation here at Cascadia Eye, please contact us today.