TEAM Archives - Northwest Weight & Wellness Center
Dr. Montgomery’s Retirement

Dr. Montgomery’s Retirement

In January 2020, Dr. Kevin Montgomery retired after 30 years in medicine!

Dr. Montgomery founded Northwest Weight Loss Surgery (now Northwest Weight & Wellness Center) with his surgeon partner, Dr. Brad Watkins, over 15 years ago. They initially started the bariatric surgery program at EvergreenHealth Medical Center before transitioning into their private practice. They were pioneers in the field offering gastric banding surgery in an ambulatory surgery center instead of a hospital setting. Over time, Dr. Montgomery brought Dr. Michaelson and Dr. Chock on board and they expanded the practice to include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, revisional surgeries, and medical weight loss.

Before his career in medicine began, Dr. Montgomery was a talented ballet dancer! He danced for several ballet companies, including Idaho, Boston and Hartford. He moved to New York City and worked as a massage therapist for ballet companies. An orthopedic surgeon, who shared several mutual clients with Dr. Montgomery, invited him to observe surgery so he could learn more about the muscles and tissues of dancers. It didn’t take long until Dr. Montgomery was assisting in the operating room weekly and developing the foundation of his future surgical career.

Now that he’ll have some spare time, Dr. Montgomery is excited to spend more time with his horses. He owns two reining horses which he rides and shows and he manages a riding stable with nearly 50 horses. His girlfriend, who also enjoys dancing, might even be able to get him back on the dance floor.

Dr. Montgomery has been instrumental in transforming thousands of lives and we are deeply grateful for his contributions. Please join us in wishing him the best in this next chapter of his life.

“It really does change people’s lives. So many medical problems get better with one surgery. You can treat all those conditions with one laparoscopic surgery. It’s phenomenal. That was always the big inspiration.” – Dr. Kevin Montgomery

Staff Spotlight: Joelle Roehl

Staff Spotlight: Joelle Roehl

NWWC Staff Spotlight

Name: Joelle Roehl

Role: Insurance Coordinator

Joined NWWC:  January 2019

Personal Life: Joelle was born in Edmonds and has lived in Washington her entire life. Her parents and four siblings live in Washington as well. At home, she lives with roommates and several furry family members: dogs Luna and Nala, cat Salem, and rat Onyx. While working full-time, she is completing her Associate’s degree.

Life Before NWWC:  Joelle has had a variety of office roles prior to joining our team. She worked for commercial landscaping companies doing estimations and bidding for projects and was a benefits administrator for an actuarial firm with a large hospital as her client.

A Day in Her Job: Joelle joined NWWC as an insurance verification specialist and has been promoted to the insurance coordinator role. She calls insurance companies or visits their online portals to gather details about benefits, exclusions, deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, and all of the confusing insurance information needed to navigate coverage for surgery. You might have spoken with her over the phone about these exciting things! She also completes all of the submissions to get people approved for surgery, including appeals. This involves record gathering, completing insurance forms, writing letters of medical necessity, and lots of faxing. While her average submission is 30 pages, she is working on a complicated one right now that is nearly 200 pages. “I advocate for patients to their insurance company. I have to help someone in the insurance company, who has no idea what bariatric surgery is, understand that it is medically necessary for our patients.”

What Else to Know about Joelle:

  • In the last few months, Joelle started her own health journey. “I made a push to get healthier and get in better shape to spend time in nature and not be out of breath. I’ve found a lot of confidence in exercising and focusing on what I’m putting in my body.” Her greatest athletic accomplishment so far? Reaching a full hour on the stair climber for a whopping 161 flights!
  • In May 2020, Joelle is embarking upon her first international excursion with a trip to Ireland and Scotland. “I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland for as long as I can remember. The goal is to meet an attractive Irish man, fall in love, and get married.” 😉 She’ll be visiting Dublin, Cork, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. Her only reserve is being apart from her furry family. Since rescuing her dogs, she has never spent more than 24 hours away from them.
  • By the time you’re reading this, Joelle will have some new ink on her calf. She is planning a tattoo of a tall tree with crystals entwined in the roots in honor of the Washington state trees that develop quartz and amethyst gems in their root systems. 
Staff Spotlight: Marian Hagi-Mayow

Staff Spotlight: Marian Hagi-Mayow

Name: Marian Hagi-Mayow, BSN, CMSRN

Role: Registered Nurse – Ambulatory Surgery Center

Joined NWWC:  September 2018

Personal Life: Marian was born & raised in Somalia. When the civil war started, her family had to separate and evacuate. “We lost everything.” Marian arrived in Italy as a teenager; she worked as a maid and was not able to go to school. Her older sister’s husband was an athlete so he and her sister were sponsored to come to the United States. In 1992, they brought Marian to the US but she didn’t have legal paperwork so she had to move to Canada. In Canada, she received her high school diploma, met her husband, had two children, and went to college to become a nurse. She moved to Washington in 2016 and has also lived in Austin, Texas.

Life Before NWWC:  Marian has been working in healthcare since 1998. Before becoming a nurse, she was a Certified Nursing Assistant. She worked at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Canada medical center. After becoming a nurse, Marian worked as a unit manager in bariatrics and orthopedics at St. David’s Healthcare in Austin and Stevens Hospital in Edmonds. The CMSRN after her name stands for Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse.

A Day in Her Job: Marian typically works the afternoon to evening shift. She helps patients recover from bariatric, plastic, and general surgeries performed in our surgery center. For the first hour after surgery, also called phase 1, Marian is by the patient’s side nonstop. Once they advance to phase 2, she supports them with walking, drinking fluids, pain management, and emotional support. She completes the discharge educations and protocols for patients who are having day surgeries. She also helps with surgery center projects and coordinating anesthesia consults. When the regular night nurse is not available, Marian covers overnight shifts.

“I take my job very seriously because it involves human beings. I care for my patients sometimes way more than I care for myself. When I see how much they trust me, I truly appreciate it. It humbles me a lot.” She enjoys working in bariatrics because “they are mostly people who are healthy and are on a journey psychologically. Helping them, encouraging them, pushing them… I love that part.”

What Else to Know about Marian:

  • She’s a hard-working lady! In addition to her job at NWWC, she works for Molina Healthcare doing chart audits and works as a per diem cardiac nurse for Providence on the weekends. “That’s how I put my kids through college. I didn’t want my kids to do what I had to do – borrowing and having too much debt.”
  • She sponsors six children in Africa. Two are from Somalia and four are from the refugee camp in Kenya where her mother and siblings lived after leaving Somalia. Each month, she sends hundreds of dollars to pay for their food, clothing, education, and healthcare. “I never forget where I come from and how hard it is.” This past summer, she and her two birth children traveled to Africa and met the four sponsored children in Kenya. She is pictured her with her children on a stop in Dubai during their trip to Africa.
  • She loves training new nurses and helping them build their competency and compassion in nursing. “For me, being an immigrant and having English as 3rd language, I faced so much discrimination. Now, I’m the work mom. Always right there standing by them. Supporting them. I tell them, ‘there’s nothing you can’t do.’”
Staff Spotlight: Whitney Wright

Staff Spotlight: Whitney Wright

Name: Whitney Wright

Role: Administrative Special Projects Coordinator

Joined NWWC: February 2016

Personal Life: Whitney is a Seattle native. She grew up as a middle child with three sisters. All of her sisters are local so she gets to spend a lot of time with them as well as her niece and five nephews. Whitney went back to school about a year ago to work towards her Master’s degree and is considering a future career in nursing, genetics counseling, neuropsychology, or as a physician assistant.

Life Before NWWC: Whitney worked in retail at Forever 21 throughout college and became a manager after graduating. As a visual merchandiser, she managed a team of 40 people. Due to her interest in medicine, she accepted a position at a pain management clinic where she became the front desk lead. The clinic provided medication management for pain as well as mental health services. She credits this job with honing her customer service skills and empathy from supporting patients with chronic pain.

A Day in Her Job: Whitney joined NWWC as a front desk specialist and later developed the lead front desk specialist role. She transitioned into her current position when she decided to go back to school. She spends a lot of time doing schedule and appointment management in our electronic medical record. She pulls reports for the clinical and administrative teams and develops workflows for the clinics. With her years of front desk experience, she helps the front desk team behind-the-scenes and provides historical knowledge.

What Else to Know about Whitney:

  • Music is a big part of her life. Her dad was a one-man-band musician and taught her to play guitar when she was 16. She plays guitar to destress, loves karaoke with friends on the weekend, and splurges on concerts as her main source of entertainment. Recently, she’s seen Dan + Shay, Panic! at the Disco, John Legend, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  • Whitney is an avid sports fan, especially football. She roots for the Seahawks and Huskies throughout the fall but you’ll never see her with a pumpkin spiced latte. While fall is her favorite season, she is not into pumpkin-flavored anything.
  • Whitney took her first trip across the ocean last month! She and her younger sister went to a yoga and mindfulness retreat in Bolzano, Italy, for a week of yoga, journaling, meditation, and exploring the beauty of northern Italy. Whitney is always up for a new adventure. “I’ll do anything once.”
Staff Spotlight: Lindsay Berndahl

Staff Spotlight: Lindsay Berndahl

NWWC Staff Spotlight

Name: Lindsay Berndahl

Role: Nocturnal Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Joined NWWC: October 2018

Personal Life: Lindsay is a Washington native. She is grateful to have all of her extended family in the state for lots of fun family memories. She has a very sweet dog-son, Dexter, who thinks he is human. J She spends her free time enjoying life with her friends, family, and boyfriend.

Life Before NWWC: Before joining NWWC, Lindsay worked as a patient care technician on the cardiology and intensive care unit floors at a busy urban hospital. She transitioned to health unit coordinator and monitor technician roles. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient, telemetry, neurology, intensive care unit, adult family homes, and private in-home care. She also cared for her grandma in the last years of her life. 

A Day in Her Job: As a nocturnal CNA, Lindsay works with patients overnight while they are recovering from surgery. She measures vital signs, assists patients with moving, helps with pain management, and provides emotional support. At night, Lindsay and a nurse manage care for all of the patients in the surgery center so it’s essential that they work well as a team. Each patient is extremely different. Lindsay prides herself on being able to read individuals and meet them on their level. During her night shifts, she tries to pick up any “puzzle pieces” that may linger from the day and assembles them to provide the next shift with all of the information they need to provide the best patient care. When she works day shifts, she helps with admitting patients to the surgery center, turnover of the operating rooms, and discharging patients to home.

What Else to Know about Lindsay:

  • The summer of 2005 served as a catalyst in Lindsay’s decision to pursue a job in healthcare. Until then, her main experience with hospitals was for her sister with diabetes. In a crazy turn of events, Lindsay became the patient after being a victim of a random drive by shooting. Three weeks later, her father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. This was the tipping point that drove her to her healthcare career. “As many of us can attest to, it seems like medicine sought me out and I love it to this day.”
  • It is fitting that we are spotlighting Lindsay during the month of her favorite holiday: Halloween! She has thrown many elaborate Halloween house parties over the years.
  • She loves friends, family, laughing, music, tattoos, and the outdoors! “I love to laugh and spend as much time as possible with those who I can make laugh in return.” She enjoys camping in the summer and spending time near the water. Her “pseudo-nieces” are the loves of her life. “Watching them develop their own strong, vibrant personalities has been so special.”
Staff Spotlight: April Raber

Staff Spotlight: April Raber

NWWC Staff Spotlight

Name: April Raber

Role: Patient Care Coordinator (PCC)

Joined NWWC: July 2013

Personal Life: April was born in Yakima and grew up on the Eastside suburbs of Seattle before settling in the Snohomish area. She has two children: her artistic adult daughter, Tessa, and her recent high school graduate son, Talon. Her 2 sisters and 4 brothers are spread throughout Oregon, Idaho, and Washington and she just welcomed her newest niece, Maizie, on July 28th.

Life Before NWWC: April has had many roles in the service industry including medical records management, childcare, restaurant hostess, and supporting an ophthalmologist. She became a certified medical assistant (CMA) in 2002 and was the lead CMA in a pediatric office in Mill Creek for 9 years. She joined our team as a CMA and transitioned into the PCC role in March 2018.

A Day in Her Job: As a PCC, April primarily supports Dr. Chock and Dr. Montgomery’s patients in navigating their preoperative journey. She attends information seminars to greet new patients, meets with patients during their surgical consults, schedules their appointments, ensures they are completing the insurance and program requirements, and works closely with the insurance team for submission. She acknowledges that the pre-op process can be overwhelming for patients. “I tell patients that anytime they get scared, I’m a phone call away. No question is silly.”

She compares her job to gardening. “You take a seed and tend to it, water it, and pluck weeds, such as anxious or negative thoughts patients might be having. Sometimes it’s painful and messy but it grows into something beautiful and adds to this garden. I love seeing my patients after surgery as they start blossoming.”

What Else to Know about April:

  • She overcame a major phobia of needles to become a CMA. When she looked at needles, her ears would ring and she’d have tunnel vision. She and her friend Kim joined a CMA program together and Kim supported her to overcome her fear. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.” When she was faced with doing her first blood draw, she almost passed out, but she did it! It took 8 weeks of practice before she stopped having bodily reactions. In overcoming her fear, April was inspired to improve her phlebotomy skills to put other people with needle phobias at ease. “I wanted to be so soft-handed that you wouldn’t feel the needle.”
  • In preparation to become an empty nester, she decided to pursue some hobbies. She had started learning to play guitar from her dad before he passed away. In June, she started professional lessons and is learning to play “Shallow” and “Broken Halos”. She has also thought about putting her medical skills to use in travel abroad missions. “I have not been brave enough to take the jump yet.”
  • She loves hiking and camping in the Cascades and would spend even more time in the wilderness if she found an experienced backpacking buddy. “I love exploring new areas and saying, ‘Look where we get to stay tonight!’” If you want to be April’s backpacking buddy, let her know! She’ll bring the guitar to serenade you around the campfire. 🙂