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Patient Care Team

Nurse Practitioners &
Physician Assistants

Our Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants work directly with our patients both in the clinic setting and assisting the physicians in surgery. They are all Master’s Level educated, Board Certified, and are required to retest every few years in order to maintain their certification.

Nurse Practitioners/Physician Assistants

Our Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants work directly with our patients both in the clinic setting and assisting the physicians in surgery. They are all Master’s Level educated, Board Certified, and are required to retest every few years in order to maintain their certification.

Chris Howard, RN, MSN, CFNP

Chris Howard, RN, MSN, CFNP begin collaborative practice with Dr. Pierce Nunley in 2001. His undergraduate work was completed at Northwestern State University where he earned his BSN in Nursing in 1994. His Master’s degree in Nursing and his Board Certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner were both attained in 2000. Chris sees patients in clinic and assists Dr. Nunley during spine surgical procedures. He is an avid runner, swimmer and tennis player. He is married to Heather Stafford Howard and they have two daughters.

Chris Howard, RN, MSN, CFNP

Chris Howard, RN, MSN, CFNP begin collaborative practice with Dr. Pierce Nunley in 2001. His undergraduate work was completed at Northwestern State University where he earned his BSN in Nursing in 1994. His Master’s degree in Nursing and his Board Certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner were both attained in 2000. Chris sees patients in clinic and assists Dr. Nunley during spine surgical procedures. He is an avid runner, swimmer and tennis player. He is married to Heather Stafford Howard and they have two daughters.

Mike Brandao, RN, MSN, CFNP

Mike Brandao, RN, MSN, CFNP joined Dr. Pierce Nunley’s practice in 2003. He completed both his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in 1993 and his Master’s Degree in Nursing in 2003 at Northwestern State University. He is board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner and evaluates patients in clinic as well as assisting Dr. Nunley in spine surgical procedures.
Mike is married to Jill Griffin Brandao and they have two sons, Cameron and Ben. He is an avid outdoorsman and is actively involved in his church’s Men’s and Mission teams.

Mike Brandao, RN, MSN, CFNP

Mike Brandao, RN, MSN, CFNP joined Dr. Pierce Nunley’s practice in 2003. He completed both his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in 1993 and his Master’s Degree in Nursing in 2003 at Northwestern State University. He is board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner and evaluates patients in clinic as well as assisting Dr. Nunley in spine surgical procedures.
Mike is married to Jill Griffin Brandao and they have two sons, Cameron and Ben. He is an avid outdoorsman and is actively involved in his church’s Men’s and Mission teams.

Stephen Kay, PA-C

Stephen Kay, PA-C began collaborative practice with Dr. Euby Kerr in December of 2005. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies in August 2001 at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Stephen received his initial Spine training in Baton Rouge from 2002-2005 and has worked as a Physician Assistant specializing in Spine since that time. He currently sees patients in clinic as well as assisting during surgical procedures.
Stephen has been a member of the Louisiana National Guard for the past 25 years. He is currently serving in the capacity of senior medical officer and has achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is an avid runner and has completed several marathons and half-marathons. He is also very involved in activities at his church. Stephen and all three of his children play the violin. Stephen is married to Sarah O’Laughlin Kay and has one son and two daughters, Landon, Kirsten, and Kylie.

Stephen Kay, PA-C

Stephen Kay, PA-C began collaborative practice with Dr. Euby Kerr in December of 2005. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies in August 2001 at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Stephen received his initial Spine training in Baton Rouge from 2002-2005 and has worked as a Physician Assistant specializing in Spine since that time. He currently sees patients in clinic as well as assisting during surgical procedures.
Stephen has been a member of the Louisiana National Guard for the past 25 years. He is currently serving in the capacity of senior medical officer and has achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is an avid runner and has completed several marathons and half-marathons. He is also very involved in activities at his church. Stephen and all three of his children play the violin. Stephen is married to Sarah O’Laughlin Kay and has one son and two daughters, Landon, Kirsten, and Kylie.

Kimberly Spotts, PA-C

Kimberly Spotts, PA-C began collaborative practice with Dr. Andrew Utter in June 2010.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina and her Masters of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies at Nova Southeastern University in Naples, Florida.
She joined the Spine Institute after working in Orthopedics in Fort Myers, Florida. Prior to earning her MMS at Nova Southeastern, Kim worked as a biologist for a private environmental agency firm.
Kim sees patients in the clinic and assists Dr. Utter during spine and neurosurgical procedures. Her hobbies include spending time with her family.

Kimberly Spotts, PA-C

Kimberly Spotts, PA-C began collaborative practice with Dr. Andrew Utter in June 2010.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina and her Masters of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies at Nova Southeastern University in Naples, Florida.
She joined the Spine Institute after working in Orthopedics in Fort Myers, Florida. Prior to earning her MMS at Nova Southeastern, Kim worked as a biologist for a private environmental agency firm.
Kim sees patients in the clinic and assists Dr. Utter during spine and neurosurgical procedures. Her hobbies include spending time with her family.

Amy Brainis, CFNP

Amy Brainis, CFNP, began collaborative practice with Dr. Andrew Utter in January of 2015. She earned both her Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees from Northwestern State University, in 2000 and 1994 respectively.
Before joining the clinic, Amy was a Nurse Practitioner at a Cardiology practice. She also was a Clinical Instructor for NSU and taught nursing students in all areas of the hospital setting: SICU, MICU, CCU, ER, Step-down, and Telemetry. She had previously worked as a staff nurse in critical care areas including cardiac, respiratory, surgical and heart transplantation
Amy’s hobbies include watching her children’s sporting activities, walking her dog Beaux, working in her yard and spending time with family and friends. She is married to David Brainis and has a son and two daughters: Garrett, Arden, and Avery.

Amy Brainis, CFNP

Amy Brainis, CFNP, began collaborative practice with Dr. Andrew Utter in January of 2015. She earned both her Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees from Northwestern State University, in 2000 and 1994 respectively.
Before joining the clinic, Amy was a Nurse Practitioner at a Cardiology practice. She also was a Clinical Instructor for NSU and taught nursing students in all areas of the hospital setting: SICU, MICU, CCU, ER, Step-down, and Telemetry. She had previously worked as a staff nurse in critical care areas including cardiac, respiratory, surgical and heart transplantation
Amy’s hobbies include watching her children’s sporting activities, walking her dog Beaux, working in her yard and spending time with family and friends. She is married to David Brainis and has a son and two daughters: Garrett, Arden, and Avery.

Paul McHalffey, PA-C

Paul McHalffey, PA-C, began collaborative practice with Dr. Euby Kerr in July of 2016 He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant in 2001 from Louisiana State University Medical Center. Before joining the Spine Institute, Paul worked as a Physician Assistant with a local Cardiovascular Surgery practice. Additionally he completed a degree in Respiratory Therapy and worked as a respiratory therapist prior to his physician assistant training.
Paul’s hobbies include fishing, hunting, and spending time with family and friends. He is married to Shanna Wilbourn McHalffey and has a son and a daughter, Joshua and Sydney.

Paul McHalffey, PA-C

Paul McHalffey, PA-C, began collaborative practice with Dr. Euby Kerr in July of 2016 He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant in 2001 from Louisiana State University Medical Center. Before joining the Spine Institute, Paul worked as a Physician Assistant with a local Cardiovascular Surgery practice. Additionally he completed a degree in Respiratory Therapy and worked as a respiratory therapist prior to his physician assistant training.
Paul’s hobbies include fishing, hunting, and spending time with family and friends. He is married to Shanna Wilbourn McHalffey and has a son and a daughter, Joshua and Sydney.

Eric Simolke, PA-C

Eric Simolke, PA-C, began collaborative practice with Dr. Rishi Wadhwa in February of 2019. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant from LSU Health Sciences Center in 1998. Eric also has a BS in Nuclear Medicine Technology from Louisiana Tech University. Prior to joining the Spine Institute, Eric worked as a Physician Assistant in cardiovascular, cardiothoracic, and plastic & reconstructive surgery settings.
Eric’s hobbies include movies, cycling, and spending time with family and friends. He is married to Jennifer Winn Simolke and has 2 daughters and 1 son, Greta, Stella and Henry Max.

Eric Simolke, PA-C

Eric Simolke, PA-C, began collaborative practice with Dr. Rishi Wadhwa in February of 2019. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant from LSU Health Sciences Center in 1998. Eric also has a BS in Nuclear Medicine Technology from Louisiana Tech University. Prior to joining the Spine Institute, Eric worked as a Physician Assistant in cardiovascular, cardiothoracic, and plastic & reconstructive surgery settings.
Eric’s hobbies include movies, cycling, and spending time with family and friends. He is married to Jennifer Winn Simolke and has 2 daughters and 1 son, Greta, Stella and Henry Max.

Administration

Our management team is dedicated to providing the daily support to our Spine Institute team members to ensure that each patient is attended to appropriately and professionally and provided a quality experience.

  • CEO/Administrator – Jenny Huggins

Administration

Our management team is dedicated to providing the daily support to our Spine Institute team members to ensure that each patient is attended to appropriately and professionally and provided a quality experience.

  • CEO/Administrator – Jenny Huggins

X-Ray/MRI/CT Technologists

Our imaging technologists have all completed a 4-year degree program and are required to continue to study and learn through CME coursework and/or to recertify in order to retain their board certification. Our state of the art equipment and advanced imaging solutions allow them to help to support critical clinical decision-making. Digital x-ray, MRI and CT are all available at our campus.

  • X-Ray – Digital radiography allows for advantages such as time efficiency and less radiation than conventional radiography
  • MRI – Our Philips Ingenia 1.5 T system is designed to provide premium image quality with digital clarity and speed. Its wide aperture system provides excellent comfort for our patients.
  • CT – Computerized tomography utilizes an x-ray to produce images of the inside of the body. Detailed pictures taken from different angles produce cross-sectional images of internal body structures.

X-Ray Technologists

X-Ray Technologists

MRI Technologists

MRI Technologists

Our imaging technologists have all completed a 4-year degree program and are required to continue to study and learn through CME coursework and/or to recertify in order to retain their board certification. Our state of the art equipment and advanced imaging solutions allow them to help to support critical clinical decision-making. Digital x-ray, MRI and CT are all available at our campus.

  • X-Ray – Digital radiography allows for advantages such as time efficiency and less radiation than conventional radiography
  • MRI – Our Philips Ingenia 1.5 T system is designed to provide premium image quality with digital clarity and speed. Its wide aperture system provides excellent comfort for our patients.
  • CT – Computerized tomography utilizes an x-ray to produce images of the inside of the body. Detailed pictures taken from different angles produce cross-sectional images of internal body structures.

Operators/Schedulers

Our Operator/Schedulers provide the first impression of the clinic to our patients. They are the voices that you hear as you call to schedule your appointments and that you rely upon to promptly relay your messages to the clinicians and/or other Spine Institute team members.

Operators/Schedulers

Our Operator/Schedulers provide the first impression of the clinic to our patients. They are the voices that you hear as you call to schedule your appointments and that you rely upon to promptly relay your messages to the clinicians and/or other Spine Institute team members.

Patient Care Coordinators

These staff members are the first faces that you see upon arriving at our clinic and the last ones that you see as you are leaving. Our Coordinators make sure that you are professionally greeted, promptly processed for your appointment, and that the treatment plan ordered for you is addressed and timely scheduled.

Patient Care Coordinators

These staff members are the first faces that you see upon arriving at our clinic and the last ones that you see as you are leaving. Our Coordinators make sure that you are professionally greeted, promptly processed for your appointment, and that the treatment plan ordered for you is addressed and timely scheduled.

Surgery Scheduling
& Insurance

Surgery Scheduling
& Insurance

Business Office
 

Business Office
 

This team of professionals works to ensure that the treatments ordered are authorized with your insurance company, billed timely and accurately, and that your patient portion responsibility is relayed to you promptly and proficiently.

IT Support

Behind the scenes, we have dedicated staff members providing support to the clinic so that your visit is seamlessly handled; from the scheduling of your first appointment to the billing out of your claim. Keeping computers, printers, telephones, and software up to date and working optimally so that every process is efficiently and effectively handled is part of their daily regimen.

IT Support

Behind the scenes, we have dedicated staff members providing support to the clinic so that your visit is seamlessly handled; from the scheduling of your first appointment to the billing out of your claim. Keeping computers, printers, telephones, and software up to date and working optimally so that every process is efficiently and effectively handled is part of their daily regimen.

Take The First Step

Schedule An Appointment!

Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are available to answer any questions.

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