Meet The Staff
Dr. William Avara, Dr. Jason Payne, Dr. John Hall and our dedicated and caring team are proud to provide patients with compassionate, thorough, and personalized care. Our staff is trained to make sure that patients are as well-informed and comfortable as possible while receiving treatment.
Because the team members at our weight loss surgery center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi are so friendly and well-qualified, we are able not only to perform operations, but seek to help our patients achieve long-lasting results as well.
Anna Kahlmus, FNP-C
Program Director, Family Nurse Practitioner
Anna is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner certified through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She received her Master’s in Nursing in 2016 from the University of South Alabama. Anna has over 10 years of nursing experience, with a most-recent background in family practice and hematology/oncology. She is a native to Ocean Springs and is passionate in promoting weight management to her local community. Anna is a member of the Mississippi Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).
Maggie Duke, MSN, FNP-C
Family Nurse Practitioner
Maggie graduated with her Master’s in Nursing in 2016. She is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner certified through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She has over 10 years of clinical experience and is a member of the Mississippi Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, American Association of Nurse Practitioners and Mississippi Nurses Association. Maggie has received certificates in Hyperbaric Medicine, Wound Care as well as multiple specialized Cosmetic procedures. Maggie assists Dr. Avara, Dr. Payne and Dr. Hall in providing pre-operative & post-operative care to patients within the SMSWLC program.
Katrina Packer, RMA
Registered Medical Assistant
Katrina has been working in the healthcare industry since 2000, and has been employed with SMS since 2007. She has served in the capacity of a medical assistant taking care of multi-faceted patients. She now serves as the assistant to Dr. John Hall in both general surgery and bariatrics.She is well-versed in the knowledge of general surgery and bariatrics and is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
Abby Sniffen, RDN, LD
Abby Sniffen is a licensed outpatient dietitian at South Mississippi Surgical Weight Loss Center and has served as a clinical dietitian at Ocean Springs Hospital. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics with a minor in Community Nutrition from Iowa State University. She is passionate about weight management and worked with the VA’s MOVE program in Washington State before joining the South Mississippi Surgical Weight Loss team. Abby is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and holds a Certificate in Adult Weight Management.
Beginning her medical career in Texas, Jessika gained Certification as a Nursing Assistant in 2004, while working with Geriatric and Alzheimer’s patients. In 2009, she graduated from the Baptist School of Health Professions becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse. As an LVN, Jessika worked within the Pediatrics and Pediatric Intensive Care departments. In 2014, Jessika graduated from The University of Mobile as an Associates Degree Registered Nurse after relocating to the Gulf Coast with her family. As a RN, Jessika has worked in Med/Surg, Pediatrics, Women’s Services, and Neonatal Intensive Care departments. Jessika joined South Mississippi Surgeons in 2020 serving as Dr. Avara’s Clinic Nurse.
Laurel started her medical career in Salida, Colorado, working as a Certified Nursing Assistant with Alzheimer patients. She graduated from Colorado Mountain College as an LPN and relocated to Las Vegas with her family and worked with pediatrics. In 2019, she relocated to Ocean Springs working with a Home Health Agency using a variety of nursing skills. She now serves as Dr. Payne’s nurse in general surgery and bariatric.
Bariatric Clinical Reviewer
Vicki started her healthcare career in 1998, and joined SMSWLC in 2016. She attended MS Gulf Coast College and holds an Associate Degree in Applied Science/Radiologic Technology. She has experience in patient registration, medical imaging and medical record auditing. Vicki performs chart reviews, follows cases and enters patient data into the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program. Vicki is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
Bariatric Intake Coordinator
Jamie is originally from Gonzales, LA and moved to South MS in 2005. She began working in the health field industry in 2014 and has a variety of experience including insurance verification, billing, and receptionist. Jamie joined South MS Surgeons in 2018. Jamie holds a Bachelors’ degree in Business Administration. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
Kathy is from Covington LA and moved to South MS in 2017 when she joined South MS Surgeons. Kathy has extensive healthcare experience having been in the industry since 2002. She has experience in insurance verification, scheduling, receptionist and working as a patient advocate in Bariatrics. Kathy is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
Certified Medical Assistant
Jan completed her Certified Medical Assistant degree in 2016 from Virginia College and has been active in healthcare ever since. She participated in an extern program while attending college for Singing River Family Practice in Pascagoula MS. After completing college she moved with her family to Atlanta Georgia where she worked in a Urgent Care facility for 3 years which cared for patients of all ages with assorted illnesses requiring varying treatments. She relocated to Pascagoula and joined South MS Surgeons in 2019 and serves as the Bariatric Programs Certified Medical Assistant. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).