The newest member of the Utah Navajo Health System medical staff is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, whose journey to San Juan County has taken him through New Jersey, Provo, Utah and Henderson, Nevada.
Joseph Walker PAC, grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from high school there in 2002. He then spent a year at Brigham Young University, in Provo, before serving a mission for the LDS Church.
Initially, Walker wanted to pursue a career in the field of computer technology, but said his struggle with Physics led him to reconsider. After serving his mission in New Jersey for two years, he returned to BYU, where he discovered a love for Biology (he actually read the entire Biology text book and enjoyed it). But what could he do with Biology, he wondered? He thought about a career in medicine, but he was concerned about the years of schooling and residency required to become a doctor. A friend suggested he explore a career as a Physicians Assistant. He did, and he was hooked.
After earning his Bachelors Degree from BYU in 2010, Walker entered Touro University, in Henderson, Nevada in 2012. He completed his studies in 2014 and began his career as a PAC at Southwest Medical, in Henderson, where he practiced until he accepted a position with UNHS.
Walker is the oldest of three children. His brother lives in Spanish Fork, Utah. His sister and his parents still live in Albuquerque. Walker’s wife, Sarah, is a Blanding native and graduate of San Juan High School. She is the youngest daughter of Brian and Silvia Stubbs. The Walkers are the parents of three children, two sons ages 8 and 1, and a 6-year-old daughter.
Walker started working with UNHS on September 5 and he said he is excited to be working for such a great organization. He will be practicing mainly in the Montezuma Creek Community Health Center, but may spend some days in Monument Valley at some point. When not working, he and his family enjoy the outdoors. He likes camping, hiking and fishing. He also enjoys reading and playing the guitar.
UNHS is happy to welcome Joseph Walker PAC to the family. Joseph looks forward to knowing all the UNHS staff and serving his patients. We wish him the best. When you see him around say hello.
Malia Collins is a long way from her home in Kentucky but she is enjoying her new position as Dental Hygienist at the UNHS Monument Valley Community Health Center.
Collins graduated from high school in Piner, Kentucky in 2009 and entered the University of Louisville. She graduated college in 2013 as a Dental Hygienist and worked in two dental offices in Kentucky over the next four years. During that time she also came west to visit her parents, Richard and Michelle Collins, who moved to Monticello in 2014. Her father is the Pastor for the First Baptist Church, in Monticello.
During her visits, she came to like San Juan County and considered moving here. Last summer she contacted UNHS about a position, and the possibility of working on the Navajo Reservation. Eventually, she was offered a position at the Monument Valley Community Health Center, working with Dr. Crystal Sekaquaptewa DDS, Dr. Chris Jolley DDS, and the rest of the Dental staff at Monument Valley.
“I love Monument Valley and all the people I work with there,” Collins said. “I think Cyrstal is great. She is sweet and very helpful. I love UNHS with all the activities and retreats that help put everyone on the same page. With UNHS we can address our concerns and that’s nice. A lot of places just say, ‘do what I say or else,’ but not at UNHS. It’s very team oriented.”
Collins has two sisters, one living in Louisville and one in North Carolina. She also has a dog. When not working she enjoys playing with her dog, camping, hiking and she’s started trail running. She also likes to visit new places and she’s started learning to play the guitar.
Malia Collins is a great addition to UNHS and we’re glad to have her as part of the family. When you see her, say hello.
Allyn Nielson is the newest Pharmacy Tech at Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. and she’s enjoying her new position at the Blue Mountain Pharmacy, in Blanding.
A 1990 graduate of San Juan High School, Allyn grew up in Blanding and is the daughter of Jerry and Lynnette Adams. She started working as a Pharmacy Tech while employed at San Juan Pharmacy, in Blanding, working under the pharmacy’s owner, Dana Nielson. She became a licensed Pharmacy Tech in 2005 and worked at San Juan Pharmacy until 2008.
The last three years at San Juan Pharmacy she also worked at the San Juan Health Service Blanding Clinic as a receptionist. She worked at the Blanding Clinic from 2005 until August of this year. The final three years there, she worked as a Pharmacy Tech.
After leaving the Blanding clinic, she was contacted by officials of UNHS and offered a Pharmacy Tech position. She works mainly at the Blue Mountain Pharmacy, inside Blue Mountain Hospital, but she will also work some days at the Montezuma Creek Community Health Center.
Allyn and her husband Ryan (San Juan High School Vice-Principal Ryan Nielson) have four children. Their two oldest boys are 25 and 21. Their daughter is 19 and their youngest son is 16. They also have a one-year-old grandson.
Allyn said she loves working at UNHS and is glad she was given an opportunity to work here. We’re happy to have her as part of the UNHS family. If you see her around say hello and welcome her.
Tondra Benn decided long ago that whatever career path she followed, it had be involved with helping people and giving back to the community, which makes UNHS a perfect fit for her.
A native of Montezuma Creek, Tondra graduated from Whitehorse High School in 2013. She attended Utah State University Eastern-Blanding Campus, where she earned a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate in 2015. She also received an Associates of Science Degree last spring. Tondra is currently enrolled in USU Eastern-Blanding Campus, working to become a Medical Assistant and earn a Bachelors Degree in Health Education & Promotion. She began working for UNHS Patient Transport two months ago and recently moved into a Patient Screener position at the Montezuma Creek Community Health Center.
“I like being a screener a lot. It allows me to have direct contact with the patients and help them. I can contribute to the community, be part of a team and communicate with a supervisor,” Tondra explained. “This is more in my area of study and gives me an opportunity to get experience. There are people here who really need help,” she added. “The medical field is the one for me.”
Tondra and her husband have a son, age 5, who is in Kindergarten at Montezuma Creek Elementary School. She is happy to be working at UNHS because it allows her to be close to her family. She has five brothers and three sisters. She is the middle child out of nine children. When not working she and her family spend a lot of time together and they play a lot of softball. They often get invited to play in tournaments on teams from other areas. She plays the infield, especially second base, and she is set to compete in the Native World Series this month in Salt Lake City, with a team called Playmakers, from Idaho. She and her family also like watching horse racing and seeing her brother, who is a jockey, ride in many of these races.
Tondra is a great addition to the UNHS family and we are glad to have her with us. If you haven’t had the chance, take time to say hello the next time you see her.