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Healthcare Quarterly
Drs. Teresa and Brad Andersen: Island physicians with a heart for community

The paths of Brad and Teresa Andersen have first crossed when the two were medical students at Gonzaga University. Both family physicians now, they have since experienced diverse careers in the medical field, including working overseas. For the past few years, the couple has been working side by side and last year, with two other physicians they co-founded Sound Family Health, a Bainbridge Island clinic focused on promoting healthy lifestyles, preventing illness and treating patients as a whole person.

The practice, which includes Dr. Mark Hoffman and Dr. Charles Power, also offers services in Port Orchard at Harrison Medical Center’s clinic — the four physicians rotate to provide office hours there on a part-time schedule. They also alternate being on call for their patients, which in the Andersen household means either Brad or Teresa is on call half the time. Brad is also Chief of family medicine at Harrison and was nominated recently for Chief of Staff.

The husband and wife, who also worked together at North Kitsap Medical Center, say they wanted to join in founding Sound Family Health so they can have more input in providing care to their patients. “We all felt similarly, we wanted to mold a practice with the focus on prevention and overall health as well as providing good care in an environment that supports staff,” Teresa says.

The practice will be a year old in May, and in this economic climate, the Andersens acknowledge going into business for themselves was a risk. But they had a strong foundation — many of their patients followed them, so the patient base comes both from Bainbridge and beyond.

Brad became interested in a medical career as a high school athlete, having spent time with physicians due to sports injuries. He explored some other choices before taking the entrance exams for medical school. After medical school, he tried out surgery but didn’t like the lack of patient interaction, and found more fulfillment in family practice.

Teresa says her mother told her she wanted to become a doctor since she was a little girl, though she doesn’t recall those dreams. She started her medical career in the U.S. Navy, completing her residency at the Naval Hospital in Bremerton then serving two years in Guam. The end of that deployment brought her back to Bremerton to the hospital, and following the conclusion of her eight-year service, the family decided to make Kitsap County their permanent home.

Brad says they were attracted to the rural setting and small-town atmosphere, yet being only “a ferry ride away from Seattle.” Parents to two children, ages 8 and 12, they are active both in their schools and in the community. Teresa said they are “typical parents, burning the candle at both ends.”

A few years ago, when financial difficulties threatened to close the swimming pool owned by the North Kitsap School District, the Andersens, who live in Kingston, became involved with a committee to save the pool. The group looked for ways to make the pool self-sufficient so it continued to be available to the community.

“Swimming is one of the fun activities you can do all life long. We thought it was an important aspect to maintain,” Teresa says. Brad was also involved on the schools levy committee and helped coach the kids’ team, and both parents volunteer in schools when they can.

The couple says it has been an honor to serve as family physicians in their community, and especially to educate their patients. Both of their mothers were teachers, and Brad had once considered a career in education. Now, education is a big part of their work, and Teresa says it helps empower patients to make their own lives better.

Their main challenge has been the business side of health care, especially with the growing amount of regulations and costs. “What we do in the exam room is completely different from what we do outside,” Brad says, adding that with the health care overhaul in progress, there is even more uncertainty. “Will the system collapse? My concern is that it not be fiscally irresponsible. As long as it’s fiscally responsible, it will work out in the end,” he says.

The plans for Sound Family Health is to move to Poulsbo in a year and a half so there is more space for the four physicians — their current space only accommodates two physicians working concurrently. Once they’re ready for the move, they’ll decide whether it’s feasible to keep the island site open, which is something they hope they can do. “We like the Bainbridge community,” Teresa says. “It’s been very welcome.”

 
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