Shasta Community Health Center's Dr. Amanda Goyne Mooneyham
By Gwen Lawler Tough
Community CaringAugust 2015
By Gwen Lawler-Tough
Photos: Kara Stewart
Dr. Amanda Goyne Mooneyham is sitting on a stool facing her patient at Shasta Community Health Center. She’s the patient’s primary care provider and knows her well, not just giving her positive nonverbal feedback throughout their conversation but a fist-bump congratulating the patient on her weight loss. Mooneyham has just begun the second of three years as a family practice resident at the health center after earning her M.D. and master’s in public health from the University of California at Davis.
“Medicine has been a real calling for me,” says Mooneyham. While majoring in biology at the University of Nevada at Reno, she worked for the Shasta County Coroner one summer. Despite the difficult nature of the work, Amanda “fell in love with forensic pathology and medicine.”
Mooneyham understands difficult tasks. She was 3 years old when she was diagnosed with a 90-decibel hearing loss in both ears, and she is considered profoundly deaf. She uses hearing aids, lip-reading and an electronic stethoscope with headphones. But it’s her keen intelligence that enables Mooneyham not just to get by but to excel in seemingly everything she undertakes. Growing up in Redding, her parents, Rick and Lori Goyne, encouraged her not to be limited by anything except her own goals. The family, including brother Paul, all skied for fun. During high school at the now-closed Bishop Quinn in Palo Cedro and college, Amanda raced competitively in major downhill events all over the world. She won the gold medal in the Super G race at the international Deaf Olympics in 2007.
After graduating from Nevada, Amanda married engineering graduate Joshua Mooneyham; they met through their common love of ballroom dancing. This couple knows more than dance moves. They have climbed Mt. Whitney and Mt. Shasta, travelled the world with their backpacks and love exploring Redding’s many dirt trails with their mountain bikes.
After medical school, Mooneyham chose a residency in family medicine because she loved all of her core rotations in medical school, including surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics. “Family medicine gives me a chance to practice all of these in a single day,” she says.
In 2013, she took a break from medical school to get her master’s in public health. She wanted to see the bigger picture. “A person’s health is largely influenced by their environment, including socioeconomic status, culture, access to clean water, vaccines and preventative medicine. I absolutely love public health because its model focuses on affecting whole populations.”
At Shasta Community Health Center, Mooneyham sees people who don’t have things many people take for granted. “Many of my patients aren’t able to follow through with their treatment plan because they lack transportation…or medical coverage for simple medical supplies,” she says.
The family residency program is a helpful partnership between the health center and Mercy Medical Center. For example, Mooneyham will see a patient for prenatal care and then help deliver the baby at Mercy under the supervision of the health center’s Dr. Jeffrey Bosworth. Mooneyham’s many clinical rotations will include pain management and palliative care, orthopedics and cardiology. In addition to Mercy and the health center, Mooneyham will work out of various local physicians’ offices. In their third year, family residents take on more responsibility as teachers and leaders. Some even continue as physicians at Shasta Community Health Center, which serves 40,000 patients. “Our mission is to serve the underserved,” says the health center’s Family Residency Program Director Dr. Debbie Lupeika. The need for doctors to serve this population continues to grow, she says.
Mooneyham “is diligent, intelligent, always prepared,” Lupeika says. “When preparing for a patient with a complex diagnosis, she reads up and knows all the treatments.” Mooneyham recently received the Mercy Medical Center and Shasta Community Health Center award for Intern of the Year.
How does Mooneyham know she is communicating effectively with her patients? “Much of what I can understand has a lot to do with context and visual body language. I try to close the communication loop by repeating back the important details … At the end of the day, I am pretty exhausted from it all and I can come home and sign with my husband.”
Lupeika says that Mooneyham is especially appreciated by a patient who is also deaf. “She communicates with Amanda without an interpreter — they sign to each other.” Enjoying the privacy between doctor and patient, which many take for granted, is huge for deaf patients. “I absolutely love the smile on their faces when I sign with them,” says Mooneyham.