Saint Joseph Hospital General Surgery Residency

Faculty

Physician faculty members of the general surgery residency program at Saint Joseph Hospital are recognized for their excellence in both clinical and academic medicine. There is a high level of collegiality among the residents and faculty.


Jason Johnson, DO

Jason Johnson, DO, FACS, FASMBS

Program Director, General Surgery Residency Program
Medical Director - Trauma and General Surgery 

Dr. Johnson was born in North Carolina, but raised in Broomfield, Colorado. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He then earned his medical degree from the University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri. He went on to complete a general surgery residency at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System in Spartanburg, South Carolina followed by a laparoscopic and bariatric surgery fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Dr. Johnson’s original plan was to go into the Air Force and become a pilot. However, in high school, his mother, who was the director of medical staff at a local medical center at the time, gave Jason the opportunity to shadow a surgeon for a day. Ever since that day, he knew he wanted to go into the medical field.

“I believe in a holistic, patient-centered approach.” Dr. Johnson loves being able to help his patients get back to their daily routine in a relatively short amount of time.

While Dr. Johnson is trained in all areas of general surgery, his areas of clinical interest include:

  • Bariatric and weight loss surgery
  • Minimally invasive and robotic surgery
  • Surgical education

When he is not at work, Dr. Johnson enjoys spending time with his wife and their three children doing outdoor activities such as skiing and fly fishing, as well as going to baseball games to cheer on the Colorado Rockies.


140x175PetersonW

Wendy Peterson, MD, FACS

Assistant  Program Director, General Surgery Residency Program  

Dr. Peterson was raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois, followed by her medical degree from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in Omaha. After earning her medical degree, Dr. Peterson completed a general surgery residency at the University of California San Francisco-Fresno.

With her father being a plastic surgeon, Dr. Peterson was exposed to surgery from an early age. Becoming a surgeon herself was something she always had interest in and the pursuit was a natural progression for her. In fact, she got the chance to operate alongside her father during her medical school training. 

Surgery can be a scary time for both the patient and the family. As such, Dr. Peterson’s philosophy is simple, “I treat every patient as if they were my own family member.”

While Dr. Peterson is trained in all areas of general surgery, her areas of clinical interest include:

  • Endocrine surgery (thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands)
  • Hernia and abdominal wall reconstruction
  • Alimentary tract (small bowel and colon)
  • Minimally invasive and robotic surgery

When she is not at work, Dr. Peterson enjoys spending time with her husband and two children as well as outdoor activities such as running, snowboarding and mountain biking.


Muratore SydneySydne Muratore, MD

Faculty, General Surgery Residency Program
Medical Student Clerkship Director

Sydne Muratore was born and raised in Hulett, Wyoming. She grew up on a cattle ranch, which she acknowledges instilled an early work ethic and a dedication to "something greater than oneself." She circuitously developed an interest in surgery due, in part, to the collective traits she acquired from her formative years. "Working with my hands, fixing things on the ranch, thinking about the bigger picture all came from my father. Curiosity, creativity, and the fluidity of the arts came from my mother." She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Leadership from Dickinson State University in North Dakota. She then earned her medical degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver. Subsequently, Dr. Muratore moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota to complete her general surgery residency at the University of Minnesota where she also engaged in two years of clinical research. Her research there spanned perioperative infection and sepsis identification and reduction, total pancreatectomy islet autotransplantation for chronic pancreatitis, medical student surgical education, and clinical outcomes in trauma/critical care. 

Moving back to Colorado was a natural choice for Dr. Muratore. She and her husband met while in medical training here in Colorado, and it has always felt like home to them. She says SCL Health drew her "because of the juxtaposition of being able to help both medically complex patients as well as the opportunity to care for the underserved." Growing up in a rural area, she brought with her an early interest in access to care issues. Throughout her training, she has developed a passion for caring for patients from all walks of life. She has been on numerous surgical brigades to Latin America as a result. These collective experiences have taught her great respect for the art and science of surgery and it's impact on her patients' lives. "Each day, I realize what a privilege we have as physicians that patients choose to let us take care of them and put their trust in us in their most vulnerable moments. I believe in empowering my patients through education about their condition and choices, and helping guide them through the surgery process."

While Dr. Muratore is trained in all areas of general surgery, her areas of clinical interest include:

  • Acute care surgery
  • Hernia and abdominal wall reconstruction
  • Alimentary tract (small bowel and colon)
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Breast care
  • Surgical education
  • Perioperative quality improvement

When she is not at work, Dr. Muratore likes to enjoy everything the beautiful Colorado outdoors has to offer, namely: hiking, skiing, and landscape photography. She also tries to find time to explore the world with her husband and young daughter.


Jijllian Ciocchetti, MD, FACSJillian Ciocchetti, MD, FACS

Faculty, General Surgery Residency Program  
Medical Director Downtown Surgery Specialists

Dr. Ciocchetti was born in Portland, Oregon and was raised in Arvada, Colorado. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Religious Studies from the University of Denver. She then earned her medical degree from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Wanting to come home to Colorado, she completed her general surgery residency at Saint Joseph Hospital.

Dr. Ciocchetti has always wanted to use her knowledge, work ethic and skills to improve the quality of life for others. “It is my honor and privilege to assist my patients and their families. Most days, I am meeting someone on the worst day of their life. The ability to fix life-threatening problems and then assist my patients in getting back to their daily routine is what I love about being a surgeon.  It lines up exactly with my values: to make the world a little bit better by the end of the day than it was when I got out of bed that morning.”

While Dr. Ciocchetti is trained in all areas of general surgery, her areas of clinical interest include:

  • Acute care surgery
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Breast cancer
  • Complex abdominal wall reconstruction
  • Resident well-being
  • Surgical resident education and mentorship

When she is not at work, Dr. Ciocchetti enjoys traveling with her husband and two daughters.  She owns and operates a medical spa in north Denver, and also bakes a mean cherry pie.

Dr. Ciocchetti is honored to return to SCL Health in 2017 after spending seven years in private practice in North Denver. She is excited to be a partner in Downtown Surgery Specialists and to help bring quality emergent and elective surgical care to our downtown campus.


Speer EmilyEmily Speer, MD

Faculty, General Surgery Residency Program  

Dr. Emily Speer is a fellowship-trained Foregut and Minimally Invasive Surgeon with a particular interest in antireflux procedures.  Dr. Speer attended medical school at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and completed her residency in General Surgery at the University of Colorado.  During this training, she developed a passion for minimally invasive, and particularly foregut, surgery.  This led her to a fellowship in Advanced GI and Minimally Invasive Surgery with Lee Swanstrom, MD and colleagues in Portland, Oregon.  During this fellowship, Dr. Speer became proficient in the most up-to-date surgical and endoscopic techniques for foregut problems such as gastroesophageal reflux, esophageal disorders, diaphragmatic hernias, and obesity.  Her special interests include laparoscopic tailored fundoplications, myotomies, and reoperative paraesophageal hernia repairs, as well as newer technologies such as POEM (Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy) for achalasia and LINX for GERD.  She is also trained in BARRX for Barrett’s esophagus, flexible endoscopic cricopharyngeal myotomy to treat Zenkers diverticulum, esophageal dilation and stenting, laparoscopic and endoscopic feeding tubes, pyloroplasty and gastrectomy for treatment of gastroparesis, and bariatric weight loss surgery.  Dr. Speer is a general surgery residency teaching faculty member as well as medical student director at St. Joseph Hospital and is active in research.  She is the author of multiple publications on reflux surgery, is an invited speaker at national meetings, and sits on national committees for furthering excellence in foregut surgery. Patient satisfaction and safety are at the core of Dr. Speer's decision-making, and she strives to provide the very best and most compassionate care to each patient by individually tailoring treatment plans to fit each person’s need.  Dr. Speer aims to provide patients with the education they need to make informed treatment decisions in order to provide them with superior surgical care in the least invasive way possible. While Dr. Speer is trained in all areas of general surgery, as a fellowship-trained Foregut and Minimally Invasive Surgeon, her areas of clinical interest include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) surgery
  • Esophageal disorders such as achalasia
  • Hiatal hernia surgery
  • Gastroparesis surgery
  • Weight loss surgery
  • Advanced endoscopy
  • Gallbladder surgery
  • Robotic surgery 

Price ColinColin Price, MD

Faculty, General Surgery Residency Program

Colin Price was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Although he comes from a family of physicians, he initially leaned toward the arts, pursuing and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Portuguese from the University of Arizona (magna cum laude). With his Spanish skills and family’s background in medicine, he became involved in Flying Samaritans in college, an organization that provides free primary care across the border, and this is what helped him realize medicine was his true passion. He attended the University of Arizona College of Medicine where he continued to volunteer with Flying Samaritans and even met his now wife who was  a volunteer interpreter.  He matched into the St Joseph general surgery residency program, graduating in 2019. During residency, he was a leader amongst his peers and was a respected teacher amongst medical students, earning him initiation into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honorary. He has developed interests in colorectal surgery, abdominal wall reconstruction, trauma and acute care and robotic surgery. He especially enjoys using his fluency in Spanish and Portuguese with his patients.  Taking the time to help patients fully understand their disease processes is extremely important to him. He is very excited to continue his career at SCL Health St Joseph Hospital.

Dr. Price’s clinical interests include:

  • Acute care surgery
  • Abdominal wall reconstruction
  • Gastrointestinal and colorectal surgery

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two dogs, tending to his gardens and backyard chickens and ducks, mountain biking, traveling and spending time with friends.


John Raheb, DOJohn Raheb, DO, FACS, FASMBS

Adjunct Faculty, Downtown Surgery Specialists
Medical Director, Bariatric Surgery

Dr. Raheb was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College in Allentown Pennsylvania, and a master’s degree from Rutgers in New Jersey. After earning his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and completing an internship, Dr. Raheb served as a Flight Surgeon for the Navy and Marine Corps. Following his general surgery residency at Wilford Hall – University Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, TX, he served as a general surgeon and leader. He completed a fellowship in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Portsmouth, Virginia. Inspired by the family’s general practitioner, he always knew that he would be a physician and soon realized that surgery interested him most. “Although I still enjoy general surgery, the rewards of bariatric surgery are unique. The patients are a very special and motivated group. I greatly enjoy the long-term relationship while sharing in their challenges and victories.” While Dr. Raheb is trained in all areas of general surgery, his areas of clinical interest include: A sailing family at heart, we have embraced the wonderful natural beauty of Colorado. It is amazing to be skiing at 10,000 feet on a mountain and sailing at 9,000 feet on a lake!


RyanGriffith300x450Ryan Griffith, MD

Faculty, General Surgery Residency Program

Dr. Ryan Griffith is a board-certified general surgeon. He is from Rapid City, South Dakota. He earned his undergraduate and medical school degrees at the University of South Dakota. His general surgery training began with an internship at the University of California San Francisco. He completed his general surgery residency at Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver. During his training, he received numerous awards for his academic and clinical performance, as well as medical research. Dr. Griffith believes the patient-surgeon relationship is a unique, sacred bond, He strives to earn each patient's trust through compassionate and skilled care. He believes it is his privilege to help people in need with the art and science of surgery. While Dr. Griffith is trained in all areas of general surgery, his areas of clinical interests include:

  • Residency education
  • Minimally invasive and robotic surgery
  • Acute care surgery
  • Upper and lower endoscopy
  • Hernia and abdominal wall reconstruction
  • Gastrointestinal and colorectal surgery
  • Endocrine surgery (thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal gland)

Dr. Griffith is also married to a surgeon and they have a daughter together. They enjoy traveling, hiking, skiing, live music, and the fine arts. 


140x175KimberlyVanderveenKimberly Vanderveen, MD, MAS, FACS

GME Surgery Faculty

Dr. Vanderveen is a Colorado native and graduate of Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, CO. She received her bachelor’s degree with honors from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA; medical degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL; and surgical residency training at UC-Davis in Sacramento, CA. During her residency, she also obtained a Master’s Degree (MAS) in Clinical Research and was actively involved in cancer research and education. Dr. Vanderveen subsequently completed a fellowship in Endocrine Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. She holds Board Certification in General Surgery.

Dr. Vanderveen is an expert in both medical and surgical aspects of endocrine diseases, specializing in surgery for diseases of the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands. She is adept at minimally invasive techniques and advanced imaging, including new “scarless” transoral techniques. Dr. Vanderveen is active in national organizations, including the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Thyroid Association, and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. She is a coveted local and national speaker, and also provides consultations for medical practice development and biomedical device research and design.

Dr. Vanderveen initially practiced in Albuquerque, NM, where she helped the Presbyterian Medical Group build one of the country’s first community thyroid and endocrine cancer programs. She returned to Denver in 2011 to be closer to her family. (You may recognize her brother-in-law, Chris Vanderveen, from his Emmy Award-winning reporting on 9News.) Dr. Vanderveen served as the Chairman of Rose’s Surgical Quality Committee, Vice-Chairman of Surgery, and Medical Director of the Rose Thyroid and Parathyroid Center – one of the country’s first community multidisciplinary endocrine centers of excellence. Dr. Vanderveen’s true joy is spending time with her three children and her husband (also a physician and Denver native). She is also known for her love of cowboy boots, which she often wears during surgery.


140x175NoelleBertelsonNoelle Bertelson, MD, FACS, FASCRS

GME Surgery Faculty

Dr. Bertelson is board certified in general surgery and has over 10 years of experience as an attending surgeon. She joined Saint Joseph Hospital in 2021 with a desire to focus on patient centered care, surgical education, and public health quality. Dr. Bertelson has practiced in the Denver metro area since 2016 and prior to that practiced in Omaha, NE, and Phoenix, AZ. She has trained residents, fellows, and medical students from Creighton University, the University of Nebraska, Phoenix Integrated Surgical Residency, and Saint Joseph Hospital. Previously, Dr. Bertelson served Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and veterans as a general surgeon with the Indian Health Service and Veterans Administration in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dr. Bertelson grew up in North Pole, Alaska, and received a Bachelor’s of Arts with high honors in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Montana in Missoula. After attending medical school at the University of Washington, one of the top ranked medical schools in the U.S., Dr. Bertelson completed her general surgery residency at Rush University Medical Center/Cook County Hospital in Chicago.


140x175DeborahDavidMerrittDeborah Davis-Merritt MD

GME Surgery Faculty
Research and Quality Study Advisor

Dr. Davis was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She went on to attend Baylor University for her undergraduate education. She completed both medical school and general surgery residency at the University of Colorado here in Denver. During a 6 year residency, she spent 8 months in South Africa and Peru. After completing her training, she has been with the St Joe's family throughout her storied career. She was a CPMG general surgeon at Saint Joe's Hospital from 1990-2004. She then served as the Associate Program Director from 2004-2015, later becoming the Interim Program Director in 2015-2016. She's now moved on from her active clinical duties to provide invaluable experience and guidance as the Research and Quality Study Advisor starting in 2018. She brings a tremendous background of knowledge in research and quality improvement, helping residents develop QI projects, matching them with faculty mentors, and nurturing them to fruition. In addition to this, Dr. Davis has international surgical experience in South Africa, Tanzania, and Haiti.

When she's not facilitating the myriad resident research and quality projects, she enjoys spending time on horseback, bike, or Nordic skis with family and friends.

Adjunct Faculty

Residents also work closely with the variety of surgical specialists employed at CPMG. Though many of these faculty are fellowship trained minimally invasive or thoracic surgeons, they typically build general surgery practices with a focus on their areas of expertise. Through their exposure to this HMO system, residents are also privy to another practice model that can help residents’ decision making regarding future career opportunities.

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