The Polyclinic
April 29, 2016 | by The Polyclinic

The Polyclinic Stories: Katie Sonderland, CMA

Katie Sonderland, Polyclinic Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), knows firsthand how compassionate care can impact a patient.

Katie's mom Peggy battled chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema for many years. When Peggy developed more flu-like symptoms, she came to The Polyclinic for care.


Katie's mom Peggy was diagnosd with Guillain Barre syndrome. She passed away in 2002.

She began receiving care from Polyclinic Internal Medicine physician Dr. Gregory John who diagnosed her with Guillain Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare disease that damages the peripheral nervous system. "Once they diagnosed my mother with GBS, she began seeing Dr. John on a monthly basis because of complications due to her conditions," Katie said.

Drawing Inspiration from Exceptional Care

During these visits Katie noticed the exceptional care and compassion Dr. John and his medical assistant, Gloria Dillion, provided her mother. Peggy knew she could count on Gloria and Dr. John to be a support system. "I remember wheeling my mother through the Broadway clinic and Gloria would always be there to greet us and give her a hug," Katie said.

Dr. John even made special rounds to visit in the hospital. "It’s why my mother would request to be seen by him. He had an excellent bedside manner and made her feel valued."

Peggy passed away in 2002, but Katie never forgot Dr. John and Gloria and the compassionate care they provided her mom. Katie had always dreamed of going into the medical field growing up but it was after her mother's passing that she finally decided to pursue a profession as a medical assistant at Seattle Vocational Institute.

"My mother always had glowing things to say about Dr. John and Gloria. Their care inspired me...and I thought it would all come full circle if I joined the medical staff at The Polyclinic."

Katie's First Job After College: The Polyclinic

Katie graduated in 2014 with honors and began her job search. The first place she contacted? The Polyclinic.

"My mother always had glowing things to say about Dr. John and Gloria. Their care inspired me to become an MA (medical assistant), and I thought it would all come full circle if I joined the medical staff at The Polyclinic," she said.

Several months after starting as an MA float at The Polyclinic, Katie learned Dr. John and Gloria were still practicing but at Madison Center.

Katie Sonderland (third from right) now works in The Polyclinic's Partnership in Health Department after finding inspiration from the compassionate care her mother received at The Polyclinic.

She decided to stop by Internal Medicine Suite A to pay a special visit. "Gloria was sitting at her desk when I introduced myself as Peggy Sonderland's daughter. She immediately remembered me and got up to give me a hug," Katie said. "She's still the same wonderful person I remember."

Dr. John was not in the office that day but a few weeks later Katie's supervisor had assigned her to Dr. John's office. Katie finally was able to thank him for all that he had done for her family. "Dr. John complimented me on how much I look like my mother," Katie said. "I was overcome with emotion!"

Now a full time MA for the Partnership in Health (PIH) Department, Katie says she finds great joy in providing patients the same great care her mother received. "It's wonderful to be able to help patients feel valued, cared for and respected," she said. "Compassion sums up Gloria and Dr. John's care for my mother and I try my best to provide that for our patients."