Meet Our Team
Susan McDowell, MD, is a family physician who has practiced medicine in Western North Carolina since 2010. She spent most of these years in Madison County, and joined MAHEC and Project CARA in 2019. She currently divides her time between caring for families at MAHEC’s Newbridge Family Health Center and providing substance use education, training, and integrated treatment at MAHEC’s Biltmore campus. Susan sees patients one day a week at Project Cara where she focuses on postpartum care including hepatitis C treatment and smoking cessation. As a family physician, Susan loves working with all ages and helping patients achieve their health goals. As a mother of young children, she also loves taking care of women during the postpartum period.
Nathan Mullins, MD, board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and addictionologist with expertise in substance used disorders in pregnancy. Dr. Mullins provides comprehensive ob/gyn and substance use treatment services for Project CARA patients. He also serves as the medical director for a community-based opioid treatment program and understands how to different medications can stabilize and support women with opioid use disorders. In addition to patient care, Dr. Mullins is a faculty educator and directs MAHEC’s Addiction Fellowship where he trains physicians in the treatment of opioid and other substance use disorders. He is also a parent who understands the daily challenges that can make recovery more difficult and more rewarding.
Melinda Ramage, FNP-BC, CARN-AP, is Project CARA’s medical director and has worked in women’s health with a focus on substance use disorders and diabetes for the past 10 years. She is passionate about eliminating the stigma associated with substance use disorders and ensuring every woman has access to the quality care. Melinda provides ob/gyn services for women with substance use disorders during pregnancy and throughout the lifespan. As a certified addiction advanced practice provider, Melinda has educated and trained healthcare providers in North Carolina and nationally in evidence-based practices in addiction medicine.
Genevieve Verrastro, MD, is a family physician who is currently in the Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program at MAHEC. As a fellow, she spends time every week at Project CARA. For the past five years she worked in health centers for underserved patients in Buncombe and Henderson counties. She enjoys helping patients of all ages and likes to encourage patients to fight against the stigma of addiction diagnoses. She speaks Spanish and has worked with Latinx patient populations.
Integrated Care Providers
Hillary Anderson, LCSW, LCAS, is Project CARA’s co-lead substance use counselor and has specialized in perinatal substance use disorders since 2010. Before receiving her master’s degree in social work, she served in the Peace Corps for three years in Senegal. Hillary understands how trauma, mental health, and personal empowerment influence addiction. Hillary helps Project CARA patients better understand the disease of addiction, develop relapse prevention skills, and heal from trauma using a variety of approaches including cognitive behavioral strategies, acceptance and mindfulness skills, trauma resiliency techniques, and EMDR. When she is not seeing patients, she enjoys spending time with loved ones, baking, practicing yoga and meditation, hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.
Melisa Enclade, MSW, LCSW-A, LCAS, CCS-I, is Project CARA’s co-lead substance use counselor and has worked in crisis management, mental health, and substance use disorders since 2008. She began as a clinician at a local crisis facility in Florida before transitioning into psychiatric hospital clinical work in New Orleans in 2011. In 2013, Melisa began working with people with substance use disorders in the criminal justice system and in treatment courts. After graduating with a Masters in Social Work, she began within the psychiatry department at MAHEC before transitioning to Project CARA in 2021. She loves being able to provide a safe and compassionate space for those who have experienced painful challenges in life. She considers it an honor to walk alongside someone as they journey through life and work towards healing. In her free time, she loves to explore and visit new places, cooking, and spending time with her family.
Judi Layton, MSN, CNM is a Certified Nurse Midwife and has provided full scope Midwifery and OBGYN care to the women in the western counties of NC for the past 9 years. During this time, she has educated and assisted patients with substance use access mental health and addiction treatment in the rural counties. She is excited to join the MAHEC team and will be providing full scope care to women in Project Cara and in the OBGYN clinic. Judi received her MSN in Midwifery from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001. She is currently pursuing a Post Graduate Certificate in Psych Mental Health Nursing and plans to specialize in Perinatal Substance Use Disorders and Postpartum psychiatric issues. She is a proud mother of two teenage boys and loves spending time with her family.
Claire Austin, PharmD, CPP, has worked as a clinical pharmacist at MAHEC since 2018. As a member of Project CARA’s integrated care team, Claire provides education for patients taking medications for opioid use disorder and other conditions such as diabetes or Hepatitis C. She works hard to ensure all prescribed medications are safe, affordable, and accessible so her patients can achieve their health goals. Claire grew up in a small town in the middle of North Carolina and moved to the mountains in 2012 to pursue a degree in pharmacy. In her spare time she likes to cook, hike, and listen to live music.
Olivia Caron, PharmD, CPP is a clinical pharmacist at MAHEC that works with chronic disease management including substance use, hepatitis C, diabetes, and more! She strives to provide comprehensive compassionate care to all her patients and loves working with the LatinX community as she speaks Spanish and French. She was born and raised in Northern Virginia as the youngest of four kids born to Belgian parents. She studied chemical engineering and Spanish at Virginia Tech and then attended Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy where she graduated with her Certificate of Aging and Doctorate of Pharmacy. She is thrilled to be part of the project CARA team.
Tammy Cody, MSW, LCSW, has supported mothers and babies for more than 25 years. She is committed to making comprehensive care as seamless as possible for all Project CARA families. As the program’s lead navigator, Tammy coordinates MAHEC’s OB/GYN and behavioral health services. She works with patients and community partners to help prepare for delivery and create a hospital discharge plan. This can include referrals to community agencies, additional substance use treatment, coordination with detention, and social services. Before joining Project CARA full-time, Tammy spent 20 years in a neonatal intensive care unit providing complex care management and crisis intervention services for WNC families.
Anna Gerhardt, RN, MSW, is Project CARA’s lead nurse. She has worked in women’s health in a variety of capacities for over 10 years providing support for pregnant and laboring moms and postpartum families. Anna has a master’s degree in social work and understands the impact of trauma on addiction, parenting, and overall health. She is passionate about helping women achieve their goals for self-care, healthy relationships, and being an awesome parent. A parent herself, Anna knows it is a tough job with plenty of opportunities to make (and learn from) mistakes, but it is the best job she’s ever had.
Crystal Wright is Project CARA’s first dedicated peer support specialist. She works with patients to build personal wellness plans, connect them with community resources, complete social determinants of health screenings, and call consultations. Crystal also engages in crisis management and facilitates Project CARA’s contingency management program. As a mother to three, she herself has lived experience with perinatal substance use disorders and is thus an amazing asset for our patients.
Program Coordinators: Operations, Education, and Research
Emma Blake, BS, is Project CARA’s Program Coordinator. She graduated in 2020 from Davidson College with a double major in psychology and Hispanic studies. Motivated by her interest in clinical psychology, she started working at MAHEC in 2020 as a Davidson Impact Fellow before transitioning to her role as Program Coordinator and Research Associate at Project CARA in 2021. Her work at CARA focuses on internal operations, perinatal research, and contingency management. Emma is passionate about behavioral healthcare, and is particularly interested in the intersections between substance use and other mental health disorders.
Erin Major, BA, is Project CARA’s Program Coordinator. She graduated in 2019 from Davidson College with a degree in Public Health and Education Policy after conducting research on syringe access programs and other evidence-based harm reduction methods for people who use drugs. She came to MAHEC in 2019 as the Davidson Impact Fellow before transitioning to her role as Program Coordinator and Research Program Associate in 2020. Her role focuses on community relations and outreach, as well as educational efforts. She is passionate about radical harm reduction and breaking down the stigma and misinformation surrounding substance use disorders.