From America's last frontier — CentraCare welcomes husband and wife doctors Sean and Katrina Wherry

Published in Inside CentraCare Health Author: Katrina Wherry,MD

CentraCare Clinic - St. Joseph welcomes the husband and wife team of Drs. Sean and Katrina Wherry, who relocated from Alaska to Minnesota this past summer. The Wherrys share highlights of their relocation, as well as their vision for community health in St. Joseph.

Wherry familyQ: How did you decide to move from Alaska to Minnesota?

Dr. Sean Wherry: We are a busy family with three young children. While we loved the beauty of Alaska, we were eager to move back to the lower 48 states, particularly the Midwest, to be closer to our extended family. The opportunity to join CentraCare was a great fit for our entire family!

Q: Relocating from Alaska to Minnesota includes long-distance travel. How did you handle the move with children?

Sean: It was an adventure! I drove the entire trip with our dog, Banjo, and Katrina flew to Minnesota with our children. Banjo, who is a Minnesota-native himself, was too large to fly on a commercial airline (he’s an English Mastiff), so I had to drive him here in my truck! Our trip took us through the ALCAN Highway, also known as the Alaska Highway, which was at times rough, had unpredictable fuel and amenities available and included a lot of wildlife. We made the trip to Minnesota in about five days.

Dr. Katrina Wherry: We will remember Sean’s drive for years to come. He had to carefully plan out all of his stops and drive with extra fuel in the truck because some of the gas stations along the way were either closed or out of fuel due to the wildfires in the area. There were stretches of dirt road and unmaintained roadway. His sister accompanied him on the drive to keep him company. They saw grizzly bears, black bears and even a bear eating a moose!

Q: Did you say Banjo is a Minnesota native?

Sean: He is! I have family near Kimball, and they found Banjo for us when he was a puppy. He originated from a Kimball-based breeder.

Q: How has your family, especially your children, acclimated to life in Minnesota?

Katrina: It’s been great! One of their favorite new hobbies is swimming in the lakes in the summer. It was too cold to swim in Alaska’s lakes anytime, so they love to spend time in the water when it’s warm. We also enjoy having air conditioning; there’s no air conditioning in homes in Alaska. When you have 24 hours of sunlight, homes tend to heat up and stay warm, even when the outside temperatures drop.

Sean: Another amenity we have come to love are the great farmers' markets. In Alaska, the growing season was very short and produce was picked before ripened, which can make produce lose flavor. Here, we are able to purchase fresh, local produce and meats that taste amazing. We visited the Mill Stream Arts Festival in September and had so much fun — the kids can’t wait for next year’s event!

Katrina: And we definitely don’t miss hearing our neighbors mowing lawn at 11 p.m. as they did in Alaska when we had 24 hours of sun!

Banjo WherryQ: You are both graduates of Uniformed Services University and completed a seven year service commitment in Alaska. So you both have had background working in the military and treating military families. How has that experience shaped how you practice medicine?

Katrina: I think I can speak for both of us when I say that being Family Medicine physicians in the military has allowed us to continue to practice a full spectrum of medicine. In our 14 years of military service, we cared for our nation’s active duty population — but we also cared for their families and our nation’s retired veterans and their families. So as it turns out, the population right here in Central Minnesota is not unlike the population of folks we had the honor of caring for during our years in the military.

Q: What is your goal in providing health care in the St. Joseph community?

Katrina: I want patients to see themselves in me. I often commiserate with my patient on the struggles of parenthood. Providing family medicine means I can see every member of the family — from newborns to seniors. I particularly enjoy building a relationship with all family members and providing high quality care right here in the community.

Sean: In addition to seeing the whole family, I am interested in elevating health in the community. From offering minor surgical procedures to leading new health initiatives, I see a chance for us to make a positive impact on family health. My father and my grandfather worked together in a family-owned, family medicine clinic, which fostered my love of medicine and community health. I’ve seen how building trust between patients and their doctors can create positive outcomes in community health.

The Wherrys are thrilled to be a part of the community and are here to stay. They feel a responsibility to provide exceptional care for the whole family. Both Drs. Sean and Katrina Wherry currently are accepting new patients at CentraCare Clinic – St. Joseph. To request an appointment, call 320-363-7765.