Skagit Valley Primary Care Providers
Call Us: (360) 336-5658
916 South 3rd Street
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

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Theresa Free

Family Nurse Practitioner

Education: Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Idaho, Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Lewis Clark State College, Masters of Nursing from University of Phoenix, Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate from Seattle Pacific University, and currently attending Southern Adventist University for my Doctorate of Nursing with an emphasis on lifestyle medicine. I am certified in hospice and palliative care and am also pursuing a certification in lifestyle medicine.

Philosophy of care: After working as a nurse for 15 years in a variety of settings I decided to return to school to take my career to the next level and become a nurse practitioner. After completing my degree, I worked in palliative care and hospice and watched as most of my patients died from what I believed to be preventable diseases.  I felt helpless to make a difference so late in people’s lives. I became inspired to pursue family practice in order to help people, earlier in their lives, prevent and reverse the chronic diseases that are needlessly killing so many Americans. During this time, I also went through a personal health transformation. I took a good look at my own health and realized that if I was going to help others that I would first have to change my own lifestyle. I was overweight and had hypertension and was on my way to having the same conditions that my dying patients had. Over a period of 18 months I lost 95 pounds and reversed my hypertension. I continue to maintain my healthy weight and lifestyle and am now excited to help others lose weight and to prevent and reverse chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

Alina Ostapchuk

Family Nurse Practitioner

Education: Doctor of Nursing Practice, Family Nurse Practitioner from University of Washington; Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Washington. Board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Philosophy of care: I was born prematurely in a small town in Ukraine. My mother became very ill and did not have access to proper healthcare.  Soon it was too late, she died three days after I was born. Because of this background my interest and passion for medicine began in early childhood. I immigrated to America as a child and my passion continued to grow through the years; in high school I took elective healthcare classes, then became a nursing assistant and then a nurse.

From the beginning I felt honored to work with patients one on one and to share the joys of their lives but also the difficult moments.  I decided to become a nurse practitioner because I feel that this role blends what I love most about nursing – the advocacy for people, patient teaching, patient-centeredness, and what I love about medicine-making the diagnosis, finding the root-cause of a problem, and providing evidence based treatment. I love being a family nurse practitioner because I get to care for people of all ages and develop relationships with their family.

I am passionate about preventing disease. I am very excited to think that deliberate and timely intervention during early years can prevent poor health in the future. What is special about my practice is that my goal is to understand what is important to the patient and be their mentor to help them reach the optimal health they want.  I want to be there for the patient and help in any way I can.

I have three children and a very supportive husband. On my downtime some of the things I enjoy are spending time outdoors, attending church, baking, and cooking with my toddlers, gardening, snowboarding, and camping.

Rebecca Bartsch

Licensed Midwife

Education: Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems Science and Policy from California State University Monterey Bay; Master of Science in Midwifery from Bastyr University.

Philosophy of care: I decided to become a midwife half-way through naturopathic medical school at Bastyr University, following the birth of my son in 2010. I saw a midwife during my pregnancy and gave birth at home, an experience that altered my life in so many ways. When it was time for me to return to school, I found that my interest in medicine had dwindled and I felt a longing to learn more about midwifery and what it means to support women through the transformative rite of passage that is pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. I decided to take some time off from school in order to reflect and enjoy time with my son, but I found that my new passion for midwifery only grew. In 2012, I returned to Bastyr University and began the midwifery program, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I graduated in 2015 and shortly after was blessed with a sweet little girl, also born at home. The midwives at Skagit Family Health Clinic were an integral part of my midwifery training and I’m honored to join them as a Licensed Midwife. 

I love being a midwife because I get a unique chance to walk with people during one of the most significant and joyful times in their lives. I love watching women become mothers, men become fathers, brothers and sisters welcoming their newest little friend into the world, and seeing families made. It’s a truly beautiful thing to behold. Love at it’s best. I am deeply grateful to all the families who have welcomed me into their lives and trusted me to care for them. It is such an honor. 

My family is very supportive of my love of midwifery, though my son often tells me to take a shower when I get home because I “smell like birth”! Together, we like to travel, hike, eat pizza, bake cookies, and make each other laugh. If I get a moment alone, which I never do, my favorite hobby is napping. 

Melissa Hilson

Certified Nurse Midwife

Education: Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Oregon Health & Science University; Master of Science in Nurse Midwifery from Frontier Nursing University; board certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board

Philosophy of care: I attended my first birth when I was 20 months old as my younger sister was welcomed into our lives, at home, surrounded by family. I don’t consciously remember that experience, but grew up loving hearing the story of her birth and my role in it, and truly believe it has shaped my path in life. In my later teen years I had an idea that I wanted to go to nursing school, and then become a midwife. When I was 18 my older sister gave birth to her second baby at home. She was born into my hands, and opened her eyes and looked at me before her entire body was even birthed. At that moment I was sure!

I went to midwifery school with the goal of opening a home birth practice. During my education, I learned about the birth center model of care and fell deeply in love with it. I love that it gives women who don’t feel comfortable with the idea of a home birth, yet don’t want to birth in the hospital, another alternative that is woman and family centered. I am passionate about education, teaching people about their bodies and how they work, and giving them the information they need to feel empowered to make informed decisions about their care.

Melissa delivers babies at the Mount Vernon Birth Center and attends home births.

Jess Photo

Jessica Wilcox

Family Nurse Practitioner

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Geology, Pacific Lutheran University; Masters of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pacific Lutheran University

Philosophy of care: Medicine has always been large part of my life. As the eldest daughter of a (still) very busy family physician and an ICU nurse, I grew up constantly hearing interesting medical cases. I would shadow my dad at his practice in junior high and high school, and loved seeing the positive impact family medicine has on people’s lives. It wasn’t until college, while working in a small village in Bolivia, that it finally ‘clicked’ that medicine was my true calling.

My FNP career began in Arizona and my experiences include working in primary care, internal medicine, geriatric medicine, inpatient hospital care and integrative medicine.

I joined the Skagit Family Health Clinic team in August 2014. Being born and raised in Western Washington, I am very happy to be back home among the ocean and mountains again, and have developed a deep love for the Skagit Valley since moving here.

I love taking care of all my patients 0 to 100 through both conventional and integrative methods, but especially enjoy my pediatric patients, along with managing hypertension, diabetes, depression, wound care, travel consultations and doing skin procedures such as lesion removals and biopsies.

In my down time, I love working on yard projects, international travel, swimming, hiking/snowshoeing the Cascades, road trips, sailing, Sounders games and forcing my husband to eat unusual new recipes I try in the kitchen.


Seth Cowan

Family Nurse Practitioner

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Zoology, University of Washington; MSN, Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Seattle University; Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine, Bastyr University.

Philosophy of care: While studying zoology at UW I recognized that a career in health care would allow me to combine my interest in science with enjoyment of working closely with people.  I became interested in complementary and alternative medicine after my undergraduate studies and enrolled in the Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine program at Bastyr University.  There, I met my wife and future practice partner Michelle Antonich.  We opened our practice in Mt. Vernon in 2001 and though I appreciated the role that natural medicine provided to our patients, I felt somewhat limited in my ability to meet the spectrum of patient health needs. Therefore, I returned to school and earned my masters as a Primary Care Nurse Practitioner.

The combination of being a family nurse practitioner with naturopathic training has allowed me to integrate the two approaches to better meet the unique health care needs of my patients.  I enjoy seeing patients of all ages and especially enjoy caring for, and establishing a long term relationship with the entire family.  I believe in working with patients to determine the underlying cause of illness and deciding what makes each person well.  I am a strong believer in preventative medicine and encourage patients to actively participate in their own health care.

When not working, I like working on home and yard projects, biking, running, hiking, camping, and fly fishing.  But I most enjoy spending time and having adventures with my wife and 3 wonderful children.


Michelle Antonich

Naturopathic Doctor
Licensed Midwife

Education: Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Washington; Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Certificate in Midwifery from Bastyr University.

Philosophy of care: In my final year of pre-med at the University of Washington in 1996 I was accepted into medical school for family practice when I heard about Bastyr University and their combo programs of Naturopathic Medicine and midwifery. Upon learning about the programs I changed tracts to specialize in integrative medicine primary care and midwifery at Bastyr.

I believe that people who are empowered to make decisions about their health care that are based on information and not fear can make the best choices for themselves and their families. I love teaching people about their bodies, their conditions, and their options—and I appreciate being able to use both alternative and conventional medicines. My practice specialties are women’s health (adolescent through post-menopause) and pediatrics.

At this time in my life, working part-time allows me to focus on my family that includes 3 busy school-aged children, my husband and practice partner, Seth Cowan, and chocolate labrador retriever (and running partner) Porter.

Dr. Antonich delivers babies at the Mount Vernon Birth Center and attends home births.


Lisa Litton

Certified Nurse Midwife
ARNP- Womens Health

Education: Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Iowa, Master of Science in Midwifery from the University of Utah, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Belmont University.

Philosophy of care: I had what turns out to have been a major epiphany when I was nineteen and searching for a reason to go back to college: I wanted to deliver babies! But not, I hastened to add, as a doctor. My mom, who had just finished a Master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at the University of Iowa, told me what a midwife was which led me to do extensive research in the college library about maternity care in the U.S. and specifically, how the midwifery approach could improve not only the outcomes but the entire experience of giving birth. I was a “believer” and thereby drawn into the profession as if it had been always been my dream to do this work.

This epiphany was the catalyst for a very long and somewhat circuitous journey (both physically and emotionally) searching for the right place to work in which I didn’t have to compromise my values and beliefs and could be valued for my gifts. I suspected from the beginning that attending births anywhere but the hospital (home, birth center, alternative book store) would suit me best since I find large institutions too cumbersome and unwieldy to do a good job of serving women who are going through so personal and intimate a transition as giving birth. Yet, I began my career in 1985 fighting for hospital privileges at a rural hospital in Moscow, ID where there had never before been a midwife on staff.

Fast forward to the present. I found Michelle, Seth and Mount Vernon Birth Center in the Fall of 2010 at the ripe old age of 54 and joined the team at Skagit Family Health Clinic in April of 2011. After years of attending births in hospitals, birth centers and an occasional home birth in the states of Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Arizona I finally feel I have found the ideal practice in which I can flourish . . . and then retire. I like the intimacy of a smaller practice in which I can form close bonds with the women and families I meet. I love having the luxury of caring for women who really want natural childbirth and for whom the experience of giving birth is as important as the outcome (a healthy mom and baby, of course). I am looking forward to incorporating more group care into our model and especially like to provide birth control counseling and services.

I have two children who are in their 20’s. A son who was born at a birth center in Spokane , WA and a daughter who was born at my sister’s house in Wenatchee, WA. Both were wonderful and transformative experiences and much better planned than my own wedding. My husband has not only been an amazing father to our children he has also become the ideal midwife’s partner who can cook, clean, do laundry, go shopping (basically keep the household running) as well as offer emotional support when I feel exhausted or discouraged and even offer advice on how to decide if someone is really in active labor or not (unasked for, of course).

In my spare time I like to knit, bead, spin, read, explore the outdoors and harvest food from our annual vegetable garden.  Just ask me for a knitting lesson and I will not be able to resist showing you all that you need to know to knit a scarf or a pair of socks.

Lisa delivers babies at the Mount Vernon Birth Center and attends home births.