It was a very fast courtship for Aspen Valley Hospital and our new otolaryngologist, Dr. Melissa Somers. You could say the stars aligned. Dr. Somers began seeing patients on July 18, providing full services as the Hospital’s ear, nose and throat physician. She treats everything from sore throats, tonsillitis, sinus infections and ear infections. Dr. Somers also treats more complicated diagnoses that involve masses in the head and neck.
“I listen to my patient’s concerns to help diagnose what could be causing their symptoms,” she says. “Then we work together to come up with a solution, whether it’s a conservative approach, medication options or surgery.”
Conditions of the ear, nose and throat are varied and can impact patients during all phases of life. “I am blessed to be able to work with both adult and pediatric patients,” Dr. Somers says.
After 12 years of practicing in a tight-knit resort community in northern Michigan, Dr. Somers moved to Aspen in July—fulfilling a dream shared by her entire family, especially her daughters who have grown up ski racing at small resorts in the Midwest and have a passion for the sport. “We visited Aspen/Snowmass the past few years for NASTAR Alpine Racing National Championships and fell in love with the area,” she says.
Filling the ENT gap
“Ear, nose and throat specialty care is an important part of the overall services provided by Aspen Valley Hospital. It has proven to be in high demand for both year-round and part-time residents of the Roaring Fork Valley,” says CEO Dave Ressler. “We are excited to welcome Dr. Somers and her expertise to our medical staff and community. We look forward to continuing to provide the highest quality ear, nose and throat care for our patients.”
Dr. Somers received a fellowship in 2015 from the American Association of Otolaryngic Allergy. Her fellowship furthered her education to treat a condition that many Aspen area residents experience: inhalant allergies. These types of allergies produce symptoms of runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, post nasal drainage and itchy eyes. She focuses on diagnosing the cause and triggers of these symptoms with each patient. Additionally, she provides strategies to prevent exposure to those triggers, if possible, or provides pharmaceutical and other treatment options.
Dr. Somers views medicine as both an art and a science. She enjoys all aspects of otolaryngology, but has a particular interest in working with patients who seek help for allergies, sinuses, laryngology, and head and neck cancers. She especially enjoys helping the littlest members of her practice—her pediatric patients.
For Dr. Somers every patient is different and treatments are customized. This includes whether treatment can be performed in her office or in the operating room. It’s important for her and her patients to make decisions together. “My goal is to help every patient be their best self,” she says.
A lifelong passion for medicine
Dr. Somers made the decision to pursue a career in medicine as a young girl. “In second grade, I was inspired by my primary care physician to enter the field of medicine,” she recounts.
Her desire to help others followed from those interactions with her childhood doctor, and once in medical school she became fascinated with the anatomy of the head and neck. During rotations as an intern and resident, she enjoyed the opportunity to correct medical conditions surgically with her hands as well as finding treatment options with medications and therapy.
She has been practicing ear, nose and throat medicine since completing her residency in otolaryngology at Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan in 2011. In addition to private practice, Dr. Somers spent two years as chief of surgery at McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital, where she also served on the medical executive committee and the quality control committee. She was also appointed to the Board of Audiology for the State of Michigan.
“Dr. Somers has demonstrated leadership as a physician, and she brings the skills that our patients deserve from their otolaryngologist,” Ressler says. “Please join us in welcoming her and her family to our community.”
To make an appointment, ask your doctor to send the referral to AVH’s Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) Clinic or call 970.544.1460.