Siskiyou adds new PA and dentist to serve the Valley

Anita Savio
IVN contributing writer

Physician assistant Samantha Marzorati, a Nebraska native, has been practicing at the Siskiyou Community Health Center since February of this year. Back in Nebraska she specialized in hips and knees and before that she worked in pathology and medical laboratory science. That was all before she went back to school to become a PA.
“In Nebraska I was working in a lab and there was this nurse practitioner and she was just brilliant and her patients loved her. And I thought ‘I want to be like you when I grow up.’”
Since Marzorati did not have a nursing background she went the PA route, which is equivalent.
After graduation she decided she wanted to leave Nebraska. So she started applying for positions in other states.
“But then I got hooked up with Siskiyou here. Everyone was great. They flew me out here and it was just gorgeous. I’m really happy to be here. I tell my patients you can’t pay me enough to go back to Nebraska.”
Marzorati is living in Grants Pass with her two dogs and her cat.
“I look out my house and there’s a mountain there. It’s awesome.”
Marzorati points out that as a PA she is trained in all the specialties: If she wanted to work in dermatology or pediatrics she could. However she is trained mostly in family practice. What she likes is being able to talk to her patients.
“Part of the reason I went from orthopedics, where I was in the operating room 75% of my time, is that I realized I liked it better when my patients talk back to me.”
Mazorati also likes the wide variety of patient needs, including the occurrence of really rare diagnoses.
One thing she wasn’t prepared for was the poverty in the area.
“It’s kind of hard to talk to someone about a colonoscopy or a mammogram when they’re living on the street. I want to talk to them about their diet but they can only eat so much because they can only get hold of so much. So how do I treat them with the limited resources they have.”
The relationship she’s built with her patients is most rewarding.
“I had one patient tell me that he loved me. I go out in public here in the Illinois Valley on the weekend and patients will go up and talk to me. It’s awesome.”
Also among the new providers at the Siskiyou Community Health Center is dentist Samantha Gaffney. Gaffney, originally from Portland, started out as a dental assistant, but then decided she wanted something more.
“Since I was eight years old I really enjoyed going to the dentist. I had a really great hygienist. But I wanted something with more variety than just cleaning teeth, so I decided to go for being a dentist.”
Gaffney loves doing different procedures every day.
“For instance I love doing root canals. And I love fixing people’s smiles. I love fixing front teeth. When people say they can actually smile again, that’s my favorite.”
What Gaffney finds most challenging is that you can fix a tooth so many different ways.
“Part of that is determining when teeth aren’t worth saving. You can try and save a tooth and then six months later it breaks and you have to pull it anyways.”
Gaffney’s favorite case was a man who had broken his front tooth as a kid and was now in his 50s. She gave him a crown and he was so excited. Every time he came in he would say how happy he was.
Gaffney found housing in the Illinois Valley, and likes it because she’s an outdoor person. She loves to go exploring with her dog.