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.
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.
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.
Melissa Orange, COT
Melissa Orange, COT has worked here 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.
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.
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 now works primarily as Dr. Siapco’s medical scribe in all three locations. She often assists both Dr. Pereira and Dr. Siapco in minor surgeries. Darcy enjoys reading, gardening and traveling. Her favorite activity is hiking with her dog, Ocho!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Susan Lukens, COA
Susan Lukens comes to Cascadia Eye with previous experience as an optometric assistant in Oregon, after taking classes for medical assisting at Southern Oregon University and working with Alzheimer’s patients. She became a certified ophthalmic assistant in 2014. Susan was born here in Mount Vernon, although she grew up in Alaska with her commercial fisherman dad. She came back to the Skagit Valley three years ago and lives in Mount Vernon once more! She has a daughter in high school and a Springer spaniel named Merle (she loves all kinds of animals.)
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.
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 especially loves refractions, where she 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.
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.
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.