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Your Adult Congenital Heart Disease Team

Jeremy Nicolarsen, M.D., FACC, FAAP, FACP – DirectorJeremy R. Nicolarsen, MD is a doctor in Spokane, WA who specializes in adult and pediatric children's congenital heart disease.

After growing up in Wyoming and attending college at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, Dr. Nicolarsen completed medical school and and training in internal medicine and pediatrics at The University of Chicago; and trained in pediatric cardiology, cardiovascular disease (adult cardiology) and adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) at Children's Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado Hospital. His clinical and research interests are in ACHD, pulmonary hypertension, exercise physiology and echocardiography. Jeremy married his college sweetheart and has two daughters. Outside of work he enjoys college basketball, music and being outdoors. He especially loves to snowboard and golf.

Hrair A. Garabedian, M.D., FAAP, FACC – Co-Directors_701.jpg

Dr. Garabedian has been practicing pediatric cardiology in Spokane for more than 40 years. He attended college and medical school at the American University of Beirut; completed pediatrics training at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana; and his pediatric cardiology fellowship training at the University of Iowa. Dr. Garabedian is board certified in Pediatrics, Pediatric Cardiology, Neonatal and Perinatal Medicine, and Adult Congenital Heart Disease. He is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington and has been actively involved in overseas medical volunteer work since early 1990. With the cooperation of nonprofit organizations and pediatric cardiac surgeons, Dr. Garabedian helped establish a cardiac care center in Yerevan, Armenia, of the former Soviet Republic. Married with three boys and eight grandchildren, Hrair's interests include skiing, carpentry and spending time with his grandchildren.

Pamela Burg, M.D., FAAP, FACC, FASEs_702.jpg

Dr. Burg joined the Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease in 2001. She studied medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; completed her internship at Bowan Gray's School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and her pediatrics and pediatric cardiology training at UCLA. Dr. Burg is board certified in Pediatrics, Pediatric Cardiology, Echocardiography and Adult Congenital Heart Disease, and has a special interest in transthoracic, transesophageal, and fetal echocardiography. Pamela has worked to establish the only fetal echo program in the region, and together with her colleagues, works closely with perinatal, obstetrical and family practice groups to help with pregnancies complicated by congenital heart disease.

Carl Garabedian, MD, FAAP, FACCs_698.jpg

Dr. Garabedian is a native of Spokane and joined the practice in 2001. He attended Ferris High School, University of Puget Sound, and received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1995. He completed his pediatrics training at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and went on to complete his pediatric cardiology fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Garabedian is board certified in Pediatrics, Pediatric Cardiology and Adult Congenital Heart Disease. He specializes in diagnostic and interventional catheterization to treat both children and adults with congenital heart disease and pulmonary hypertension; has experience with implanting the Melody® transcatheter pulmonary valve; and has expertise in device closure of atrial septal defects, certain ventricular septal defects, and patent ductus arteriosus. Carl enjoys living in the northwest by spending his free time with his family in our local mountains and lakes.

Katrina H. Schneider, MCHS, PA-CKatrina H. Schneider, PAC is a physician assistant in Spokane, WA specializing in congenital heart pediatric cardiology.

Katrina is a University of Washington MEDEX graduate who provided primary care to our local underserved population prior to returning to work in congenital cardiology. She attended Western Washington University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, and worked in corporate fitness prior to returning to study echocardiography. After obtaining a degree in Diagnostic Ultrasound, Katrina worked for 12 years as an adult and congenital echocardiographer at Mary Bridge and Tacoma General Hospital and Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease before returning to school to complete a Master’s degree in Clinical Health Sciences as a Physician Assistant. Katrina has two girls with her very supportive husband, who is a local high school teacher. An avid runner and a member of a local running/racing group, Katrina is passionate about health and fitness and enjoys educating people on these topics and more.

Janice Christensen, MD, FACCJanice D. Christensen, MD, FACC is a doctor in Spokane, WA specializing in cardiology, nuclear cardiology, echocardiography and in the prevention of heart disease.

Dr. Christensen has practiced adult cardiology in Spokane for more than 15 years. She is the Medical Director of Noninvasive Cardiovascular Imaging for Providence Hospitals in Spokane and is a member of Providence Spokane Cardiology. She was born in Lafayette, Indiana and subsequently moved to Arizona. She graduated from the University of Arizona College of Medicine where she completed her training in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease (adult cardiology). Dr. Christensen is certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease and Adult Congenital Heart Disease. Her special interests include valve disease, familial and congenital heart disease as well as thoracic aortic aneurysm, heart disease in pregnancy, and the genetics of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Christensen has collaborated with the Providence Maternal and Fetal Medicine group in the care of women with structural heart disease and high-risk pregnancies for more than 10 years. She is married to Michael, an architect, and they have two grown children.

Chris Anderson, M.D., FAAPs_700.jpg

Dr. Anderson was born in Omaha, Nebraska and moved to Texas during his late childhood. He attended Texas A&M University followed by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, where he received his M.D. in 1993. After completing a surgical internship in Houston, he spent a year on sabbatical performing research in pre-clinical gene therapy studies and working in the emergency room. Chris completed his pediatrics training at Baylor College of Medicine-affiliated hospitals before completing his pediatric cardiology training at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA. He further sub-specialized in pediatric electrophysiology at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago before joining the Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease in 2002. Chris' clinical interests include arrhythmia management, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, congenital Long QT syndrome, sudden death prevention and non-fluoroscopic imaging for catheter ablation. Dr. Anderson is board certified in Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatric Electrophysiology. He holds faculty appointments with University of Washington’s WWAMI Program and co-chairs the Cardiovascular Medicine course currently in development at WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. His extracurricular interests include spending time with his wife, Seiko, and sons, Alex and Luke, guitar, skiing, travel, movies and dining out.

Jennifer Plymale, M.D., FAAPJennifer Plymale, MD is a Spokane, WA pediatric children's heart disease specialist doctor, specializing in congenital heart defects.

Dr. Plymale joined the Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease in 2013. She grew up in Montana and attended Gonzaga University followed by medical school at The University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Plymale completed her pediatric internship and residency at the University of California - Davi, in Sacramento, California, and stayed on for a year as Chief Resident in Pediatrics. She then moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and trained in pediatric cardiology at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and completed an additional year of training in noninvasive imaging including transthoracic, transesophageal, and fetal echocardiography and cardiac MRI. Jennifer is board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Cardiology and enjoys working with Perinatal Medicine to provide seamless care to both mothers and fetuses with congenital heart disease. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two children as well as hiking, skiing, music and travel.

Sarah Stack, M.D., FAAPSarah Stack, MD is a doctor in Spokane, WA who specializes in children's pediatric cardiology.

Dr. Stack grew up in Minnesota and Colorado. She attended the University of Notre Dame, where she completed her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering. Following a brief career as a consultant, Sareah attended medical school at Saint Louis University. She then moved back to Colorado and completed her residency in pediatrics and fellowship in pediatric cardiology at the University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado. Dr. Stack’s clinical interests include care of patients with complex congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, and preventive cardiology. She enjoys exploring the outdoors and traveling with her husband and small children.

Neil K. Worrall, M.D. – Congenital Cardiothoracic SurgeonDr. Neil Worrall is an Adult and Pediatric Cardiovascular Thoracic Heart Surgeon who practices in Spokane, Eastern Washington; and Coeur d'Alene, North Idaho.

Dr. Worrall attended medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and completed his general surgery residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis. While there, he completed a three-year cardiothoracic surgery research fellowship and authored numerous research articles on cardiac surgery. He then completed his cardiothoracic surgery residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and obtained his training in congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery at Children’s Hospital-Boston, where he served as Chief Resident in Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Worrall joined the staff of Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in 2000. He performs all major pediatric cardiovascular procedures and his areas of particular interest are arterial switch procedures, hybrid strategies for hypoplastic left heart syndrome, repair of tetralogy of Fallot and atrioventricular canals, closure of atrial and ventricular septal defects, valve repair and replacement, and surgery for adult congenital heart disease. Dr. Worrall is certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and holds sub-specialty certification in Congenital Cardiac Surgery. Neil is also the surgical director of Healing Hearts Northwest - a regional humanitarian organization that has completed five cardiac surgery mission trips to Rwanda to perform congenital cardiac surgery on children and young adults since 2010. His other interests include travel, skiing, cycling, history, serving on the boards of local non-profit organizations, and spending time with his wife, Dawn, and their two children.

Leland Siwek, M.D. – Congenital Cardiothoracic SurgeonLeland Siwek, MD is a cardiovascular thoracic heart and lung surgeon treating patients in Spokane, WA and Coeur d'Alene, ID.

Dr. Siwek attended college and medical school at Harvard University. His general surgery residency was at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, after which he completed a two-year cardiac surgical research fellowship in congenital heart disease at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Siwek then went on to a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital which included a position as Senior Registrar at the Wessex Regional Cardiothoracic Center in Southampton, England. He received additional sub-specialty training in congenital heart surgery at the Boston Children's Hospital while serving as Chief Resident. Dr. Siwek joined the staff of Sacred Heart Medical Center in 1988. He was particularly involved in moving Spokane into the forefront of early complete repair of complex congenital heart defects in young infants and newborns. Several complex newborn operations, such as the arterial switch operation, were first introduced in the Northwest by Dr. Siwek. His interests continue to include early complete repair of complex congenital heart defects, as well as minimally invasive repair of "simple" defects. His adult practice has focused on surgery for adult congenital heart disease, complex valve repair and replacement, and minimally invasive robotic surgery.

Douglas Barber, M.D., FACOG - Maternal Fetal MedicineDouglas Barber, MD - Spokane Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist

Dr. Barber joined Providence Medical Group’s Center for Maternal Fetal Medicine in 2011. He grew up in central Montana, where he attended Carroll College and matriculated into the WWAMI program at University of Washington. Dr. Barber went on to complete both his obstetrical residency and fellowship in Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of California Davis. He is currently board certified in both obstetrics and gynecology and Maternal Fetal Medicine. Dr. Barber has seen the Maternal Fetal Medicine program thrive and continue to grow during his time in Spokane. He carries special interest in preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, genetic amniocentesis and congenital heart disease. He has specifically enjoyed the growth of the perinatal program and the integration of other medical specialists to lead to ever improving pregnancy outcomes. Outside of work, Dr. Barber enjoys spending time with his wife Anna, skiing the local mountains and exploring the local lakes.

Kai Ihnken, M.D. FACS - Cardiothoracic Surgery, Northwest Heart & LungKai A. Ihnken, MD is a doctor in Spokane, WA specializing in cardiovascular thoracic heart and lung surgery.

Dr. Ihnken received his medical degree from the Justis Liebig University in Giessen, Germany and performed his residency at multiple locations, including Stanford University School of Medicine, Albert-Ludwigs University and J.W. Goethe University. He worked as an assistant professor at the University of California, as well as Stanford University School of Medicine, where he specialized in Cardiothoracic Surgery. Feeling the need to try something different, he moved to the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute in Fairfax, VA and also served as medical director and Chief or Cardiothoracic Surgery at Centra Healthcare before returning to Los Angeles to serve as a Thoracic Transplant/Mechanical Circulatory Assist Fellow at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Since January 2016, Dr. Ihnken has been the surgical director of the Mechanical Heart and Heart Transplant Program at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital. He received training in the HeartWare LVAD, Syncardia TAH, Abiomed Impella, Imacor hTEE, Corevalve and minimally-invasive CABG/MVR/AVR/atrial fibrillation surgeries, as well as thoracic aortic stent-graft placement, robotic cardiac surgery and off-pump coronary revascularization.

Gabor C. Mezei, M.D., Ph.D. FACOG- Maternal Fetal MedicineGabor Csongor Mezei, MD, PhD is a Spokane, WA birthing center doctor specializing in Maternal Fetal Medicine.

Dr. Mezei joined the Providence Center for Maternal Fetal Medicine at Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children Hospital in 2013. He attended medical school at the Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, where he also completed Obstetrics and Gynecology residency training and a Ph.D. training before moving to the United States. He completed an Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at Saint Peter’s University Hospital/Drexel University College of Medicine and his Maternal Fetal Medicine fellowship training at the Penn State University. Dr. Mezei is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Maternal-Fetal Medicine. His clinical interests include care of pregnant patients with complex medical conditions, including cardiac disorders and those with pregnancy complications. Dr. Mezei also provides prenatal diagnostic testing and genetic screening, as well as basic and advanced ultrasounds for pregnant women. Married with two children, Gabor enjoys spending time with his family as well as travel, outdoors, soccer, motorsports and music.

Matthew Forrester, M.D. - Cardiothoracic surgeonMatthew D. Forrester, MD is a cardiologist cardiovascular thoracic heart surgeon in Spokane, WA.

Dr. Forrester received his medical training at Emory University School of Medicine and completed his general surgery internship and cardiothoracic surgery residency at Stanford University.

His professional interests include minimally invasive cardiac surgery, complex valvular disease and aortopathy, with special interest in aortic root surgery, valve-sparing aortic root replacement, connective tissue disorders and congenital aortopathies.

Mindy Watson, LICSW - Social Worker

Mindy Watson is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Spokane, WA specializing in adults and children with congenital heart disease.

Mindy’s therapeutic style is strength-based, with a strong focus on empowering and supporting people through difficult times. She has more than 13 years of experience in social services, working with people of all ages and populations. After earning her Bachelor’s degree, as well as her Master’s degree in social work at Eastern Washington University, Mindy completed her internship as a full-time social worker providing youth advocacy and case management to inner city youth and young adults (ages 13-21 years old), helping them navigate through multiple systems in Snohomish and King County. She served on multiple committees, providing education and training to address length of stay, permanency planning and disproportionality of children of color in the foster care system. Mindy also has hospital-based experience, providing discharge planning of patients with complex social/medical needs as well as providing psychosocial, mental health/suicide consults and crisis management. She is available to work with our inpatient and outpatient cardiology fetal, pediatric and adult patients. Mindy enjoys spending time with her family attending sporting events and activities, eating Mexican food, working out and traveling to sunny locations. She loves being outdoors close to rivers, lakes and the ocean.

Tom Klein, M.D. - ACHD ElectrophysiologistThomas M. Klein, MD is a doctor in Spokane, WA specializing in heart care, cardiology and electrophysiology.

Dr. Klein is originally from New York City and attended medical school at SUNY - Stony Brook School of Medicine. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at The Mount Sinai Hospital, followed by Cardiology and Cardiac Electrophysiology fellowships at University of Maryland, where he served as the chief cardiology fellow. He practiced for two years in Philadelphia prior to relocating with his family to Spokane in September, 2016, where he joined Providence Spokane Cardiology. Dr. Klein is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology and Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology. He practices general cardiology with a subspecialty focus on cardiac electrophysiology and performs pacemaker, ICD, and CRT implantation and extraction; and ablation for supraventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, and ventricular tachycardia. He has published numerous original research articles and textbook chapters.

Tracey Sheppard, RN- ACHD Nurse CoordinatorTracey Sheppard, RN is a nurse in Spokane specializing in cardiology and congenital heart disease.

Tracey is a long-time resident of the Pacific Northwest. She completed her AA degree and AAS degree in nursing at Spokane Community College. She then went on to pursue her love of caring for patients of all ages in multiple fields of nursing. She started her nursing career as an ICU nurse in Spokane Valley, working with medically fragile and critically ill patients. Later, she became Director of Nursing for a 120 bed facility, where she helped to open and run a successful ventilator/respiratory unit. Since 2013, Tracey has been working in pediatric and adult cardiology, and has found her true passion - caring for patients with Congenital Heart Disease. In her spare time, Tracey loves spending time with her husband (who is also a nurse) and their four children. She and her husband enjoy running together, and she recently completed her first full marathon in Maui, HI. She loves to travel, and is quite the sun seeker, always looking for her next adventure.

Wendy Knowlton, D.O. - Supportive CareWendy Knowlton, DO is a doctor in Spokane, WA specializing in Palliative Care, supportive medicine.

Dr. Knowlton is a board certified Hospice and Palliative Medicine physician, who serves adults and children with serious illness. She is Medical Director and Lead Physician of Providence Supportive Care Services, which includes advance care planning, perinatal, pediatric and adult palliative care, as well as education for medical students and residents regarding compassionate communication. Dr. Knowlton has 12 years of experience dedicated to the field of palliative care. She completed a Pain and Palliative Care fellowship at NIH in 2005 and served as a Hospice Medical director for seven years in Nashville, TN. During that time she saw adults and children in their homes, as well as inpatient for complex palliative needs. She joined the Providence Supportive Care team in 2012 and became lead physician in 2015. In addition to her administrative duties, she enjoys seeing patients with a fabulous interdisciplinary, supportive care team at Holy Family Hospital and Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital. In her free time Dr. Knowlton enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, exploring the inland Northwest, taking care of bees and eating honey.