Medical Team

K. Ellissa Tiller, M.D. FAAHPM, CPE

Senior Vice President and Hospice Medical Director

Shannon Keel, M.D., MPH, FAAFP

Vice President of Community Health & PACE Medical Director

David West, M.D.

Associate Vice President

Ashley Whitney, MSN, AGNP-C

Senior Director of Ferris Care Center & Nurse Practitioner

Erin Arthur, M.D.

HopeWest Physician

Denise Burnett, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Caroline Dorman, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Carol Fowler, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Marian Heesaker, RN, MS, MA, FNP-C

Nurse Practitioner

Karin Lee Hughes, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Heidi Marlin, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Vicky Mathwig, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Sherman Straw, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Sara Warzecka, M,D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

K. Ellissa Tiller, M.D. FAAHPM, CPE

Senior Vice President and Hospice Medical Director

Dr. Tiller joined HopeWest in December 2016 and serves as its Chief Medical Officer. Prior to HopeWest, she established the Sentara RMH Palliative Care Program in Harrisonburg, Virginia, 2010 and served as its Medical Director for over 6 years.

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Dr. Tiller was also the Medical Director for Sentara RMH Hospice. Dr. Tiller is Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and was made a Fellow of the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2016.

She finished an Internal Medicine Residency program at the University of Virginia Roanoke-Salem program in 2000, and has extensive experience as a primary care physician and hospitalist. She completed medical school at the University of Queensland in Australia and worked as a general practitioner in rural Australia.

Her awards include the Donnelly Award for best all-round Internist in 2000 and the RMH Golden Stethoscope Award for excellence in patient care, customer service, communication and teamwork in 2010, and the HopeWest Heart of Hope Award in 2018, for exemplifying the mission and values of HopeWest. She is recognized as a Certified Physician Executive (CPE).

Shannon Keel, M.D., MPH, FAAFP 

Vice President of Community Health & PACE Medical Director

Dr. Keel is a western Colorado native who received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and then served in the Peace Corps in West Africa. She graduated from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 2000 and was recognized as a Piscano Scholar and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. She is board-certified in Family Medicine and has a life-long passion for caring for the underserved. She worked on the Navajo Reservation and at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Philadelphia before returning to the Western Slope.

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Dr. Keel has been on faculty at Family Medicine Residency Programs in Philadelphia and here at St. Mary’s, and has won numerous teaching awards.

During her career, she has become increasingly interested in the broader picture of healthcare, particularly innovative systems addressing social determinants of health. She completed the Advanced Physician Leadership Program sponsored by the Colorado Medical Society and earned her Master’s in Public Health as part of the Leadership in Public Health Practices program through the University of Colorado.

David West, M.D.

Associate Vice President

Dr. David West is a board-certified Family Physician who was Vice President of Medical Affairs at HopeWest from December 2010 until June 2016. He is now the Associate VPMA at HopeWest on a part-time basis. 

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Dr. West has served the medical community in Grand Junction for 38 years, by helping start and later directing the St. Mary’s Hospital Family Medicine Residency, starting a two doctor practice with Dr. Madsen in 1980 which grew over the years into Primary Care Partners, and starting, serving, and Directing the Hospitalist Program at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Caring for patients and families is a privilege and a joy for Dr. West. He and his wife Norma enjoy the outdoor adventures of hiking, camping, skiing, golf and long walks and the indoor activities of seeing art museums and theater, and they love to read and learn.

Ashley Whitney, MSN, AGNP-C

Sr. Director of Ferris Care Center & Nurse Practitioner 

Ashley Whitney, MSN, AGNP-C, has worked in Hospice and Palliative Care and other health areas for more than a decade. She spent seven years at The Denver Hospice in various roles as an Attending Provider at the hospice inpatient care center, for a team that served patients in their homes and facilities, and as an NP on the palliative care team. 

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She joined HopeWest in 2018 as the Nurse Practitioner and Assistant Clinical Director at the HopeWest Hospice Care Center. In 2019 she was promoted to the Senior Director of the Ferris Hospice Care Center where she continues to focus on providing excellent and compassionate care to the patients and families she serves while providing leadership and driving force for the mission of HopeWest.

Whitney pursued her undergraduate studies at Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology and minoring in Biomedical Sciences. She later graduated from the University of Colorado with both a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing, achieving her status as an Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner.

Erin Arthur, M.D.

HopeWest Physician

Dr. Arthur is a family medicine physician in rural Plateau Valley and works with HopeWest to serve hospice patients in that area. She went to medical school at the University of Colorado, graduating in 2008, and trained in Family Medicine Residency in Anchorage, Alaska, from 2008-2011.

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She is board certified in Family Medicine and has practiced in Colorado since 2012. Outside of work she enjoys her family as well as hiking, camping, mountain biking, and playing the guitar.

Denise Burnett, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Dr. Burnett is Board Certified in Family Medicine and comes to HopeWest with more than 23 years of experience as a family medicine specialist. Dr. Burnett is originally from Newfoundland, Canada where she attended Memorial University of Newfoundland and obtained her Bachelor of Science and then her medical degree.

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She then completed a residency at Memorial University’s rural family medicine program.

In 1996, she relocated to Georgia, where she practiced family medicine for 23 years. During her career she also spent 12 years in private practice and then five years working as a full-time faculty member for the Floyd Family Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Burnett’s experience also includes working in post-acute, long-term care, and five years in hospice.

Dr. Burnett is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is also certified as a Hospice Medical Director. Because of the excellence, she displayed in her work, she was distinguished as a fellow by the American Academy of Family Physicians in 2015.

Beyond her work in the United States, Dr. Burnett has served in and led seven medical missions to Haiti and Nicaragua.

Caroline Dorman, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Dr. Dorman started working with HopeWest in 2017. She has special interests in hospice, palliative medicine, rural and frontier medicine. She graduated as a doctor from the Oregon Health Science University School of Medicine in 1996 and completed Family Medicine Residency at St. Mary’s here in Grand Junction in 1999.

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She is board certified in Family Medicine. She worked in rural Craig, Colorado for 10 years as a full-range family physician, she delivered babies and even made house calls on horseback. From 2008 through 2016 she was an attending teaching physician at St. Mary’s Family Medicine Residency in Grand Junction. She is now focusing her career on hospice and palliative medicine.

Outside of work she enjoys tandem biking with her husband, spending time with her five children and the family dogs, hiking, and reading.

Carol Fowler, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Dr. Carol Fowler received her undergraduate degree in anthropology from Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut, and her medical degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, Colorado. She completed her family practice residency at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado where she has resided with her family since 1985.

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Dr. Fowler is board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and in Family Medicine and began working for HopeWest in 2009 after having a family member in hospice services. Currently, she is also employed at St. Mary’s Hospital as the palliative care physician for their in-patient multidisciplinary Palliative Care Service. Her professional interests are hospice and palliative medicine and medical care of persons with intellectual disabilities.

Prior to receiving her medical degree, Dr. Fowler was an archeologist for 9 years. She has been knitting since she was eight years old and enjoys spinning yarn, weaving, and playing the piano.

Marian Heesaker, RN, MS, MA, FNP-C

Nurse Practitioner

Marian Heesaker, RN, MS, MA, FNP-C is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner. She started with HopeWest in November 2018. Before coming to HopeWest, she worked as a provider for Parkview Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency program in Pueblo, Colorado, and with Locums Tenems at the El Paso County Employees Primary Care Clinic.

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Heesaker attended the University of Cincinnati where she received a master’s degree in nursing and the University of Northern Colorado for her master’s degree in public health with an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention. Before becoming a nurse practitioner, Heesaker worked as a registered nurse in the emergency room, intensive care, nursing education, and management within the healthcare system for 35 years. She is a recipient of the Nightingale award for the State of Colorado.

She and her husband are the parents of 3 adult children. They recently relocated to the Grand Valley from the front range. Her hobbies include hiking, biking, skiing, and Labradors.

Karin Lee Hughes, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Dr. Lee Hughes joined HopeWest in 2014, moving here from Salt Lake City where she was a hospice and family practice doctor for over 10 years. She completed Family Medicine Residency in Salt Lake City in 2002 and graduated from Medical College of VA/VA Commonwealth University in 1999.

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Working in hospice, she enjoys getting to spend more one-on-one time with patients as well as also working with their families. She is a past recipient of the HopeWest Heart of Hope award. Her interests include complementary medicine, yoga, meditation, and mind-body health.

Outside of work she enjoys outdoor activities and music. She is married to a family practice physician and they have 2 daughters.

Heidi Marlin, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Dr. Marlin has worked with HopeWest in the Delta and Montrose areas since 2011. She is certified as a Hospice Medical Director and board-certified in Family Medicine. Prior to her career in hospice and palliative medicine, she practiced full-spectrum family medicine from 2008-2012.

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She completed her Family Medicine Residency at Northern Colorado Family Medicine in Greeley, Colorado, and obtained her medical degree from Oregon Health and Sciences University School of Medicine in 2005.

She is married to a family practice physician and they have 2 girls. Outside of work she enjoys running, skiing and spending time outdoors with her family.

Vicky Mathwig, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

HopeWest is pleased to introduce Dr. Vicky Mathwig, MD, as a hospice and palliative medicine physician. Dr. Mathwig comes to HopeWest with a wealth of experience as an exceptional physician, board-certified in Family Medicine. While working for the past eight years as a primary care physician, Dr. Mathwig has witnessed the powerful impact of the HopeWest team in the lives of her patients and their families.

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Dr. Mathwig graduated from Creighton Medical School in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2007. She completed her residency training at St. Mary’s Family Medicine in 2010, the same year she became board-certified in Family Medicine.

Sherman Straw, M.D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Dr. Straw is Board Certified in Family Medicine and comes to HopeWest with more than 30 years of experience both as a family medicine specialist and instructor. Straw graduated from Northern Arizona University and then, the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 1984.

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After completing his residency in Family Medicine, he established a private practice in Palisade, CO. Straw joins HopeWest from St. Mary’s Family Practice Residency, where he served as a physician and teacher for decades. Many family physicians now working in Mesa County were instructed by him during that tenure.

His reputation for compassion and excellence in patient care is well known by the HopeWest medical staff. Straw has received many awards and significant national recognition including being named a Fellow of the American Board of Family Medicine which was awarded to him in 2008 in recognition of his educational excellence, teaching and community service.

Sara Warzecka, M,D.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Sara Warzecka, MD is a hospice and palliative medicine physician with training as an end-of-life doula with the Conscious Dying Institute. HopeWest welcomed Dr. Warzecka in January 2020. Before coming to HopeWest, she worked in hospice and family medicine where she helped train future family medicine doctors to ensure the appreciation of palliative and patient-centered care.

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Warzecka attended medical school at University of Colorado where she found interest in hospice and palliative care. She completed her residency at SCL Health St. Joseph in Denver and then moved to Asheville, North Carolina for a hospice and palliative medicine fellowship at the Mountain Area Health Education Center.

Dr. Warzecka is excited to work as a rural home hospice and in-patient doctor at HopeWest and looks forward to continuing her work as a healthcare professional dedicated to health equity, person-centered care, and compassion in all stages of life. Her hobbies include running, hiking, reading, and spending time with her husband and three dogs.