The Knollwood Team

Deborah Mitchell, D.V.M., M.S.
Our Medical Director and Practice Manager


Dr. Deborah Mitchell is still as passionate about pets as she was as a 6 year-old in a crumpled and dirty Sunday dress, being scolded by her Mom. Her Mom recalls telling her that she shouldn't have been getting all dirty by playing with strange dogs and cats, and hearing: "But Mama! They're NOT strangers - they're my friends!". 


Today, Dr. Mitchell feels as privileged to care for your pets as she did when she first earned her veterinary degree from the University of Illinois in 1983. And, she still speaks the same Dog, Cat, and Bunny that she learned from her animal friends on those long-ago Sundays. Dr. Mitchell's overall medical focus is wellness maintenance. In other words, she works with you to show you the tools you need to keep your pet vibrantly healthy and happy. She understands that for pet-lovers like herself, our pets are our family and our dear friends.

In addition to serving as our hospital's Medical Director and Practice Manager, Dr. Mitchell sees patients at our hospital Monday through Friday every week. She will maintain this schedule through all of 2021, and is available by appointment only. 


Dr. Mitchell practices integrative medicine - not holistic medicine. This means that as appropriate, she combines the best that her traditional Western medical training has to offer with the best of the alternative therapies in which she is trained. This gives your pet more tools for healing - and for wellness maintenance. For consultation patients referred by other area veterinarians, the integrative therapies she offers can greatly enhance the work that your primary care veterinarian is doing to keep your pet healthy and happy! 


Dr. Mitchell  shares her life with her partner and with two four-legged friends: Cairn Terrier Bettina, and Terrier mix Walter, both "rescued" pets. Walter and Bettina come to work with her every day, and would love to meet you. In her spare time, Dr. Mitchell gardens, reads, kayaks, continues her studies in integrative veterinary medicine, and is active in the Greater Chicago Food Depository. As a recognized expert lecturer in veterinary acupuncture, veterinary chiropractic, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Reiki, Bach flower therapy, homotoxicology, and integrative small animal medicine and practice management, Dr. Mitchell lectures to veterinary audiences nationwide.

Mary Papacek Svoboda, D.V.M., M.S.

Our former respected colleague and Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Mary Papacek Svoboda - or, as many of her devoted clients still prefer to call her, "Dr. Mary", now works with us as our primary Relief Veterinarian and will do so though mid-2021, when she plans to retire. Through the first half of 2021, she'll be at Knollwood several days a month, plus whenever Dr. Mitchell is lecturing or attending a medical conference. 

Dr. Mary earned her degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Minnesota. Originally from Sparta, Wisconsin, she moved to the Chicago area after graduation. Dr. Svoboda is known for her medical, dental, and client communication skills.  

We are delighted to work with Dr. Mary Svoboda again, on this as-needed relief basis. On days that she works with us, she will be available for medical appointments and surgical appointments to perform the surgical and dental procedures in which she has special expertise.  "Dr. S is always so thorough and caring", says Nurse Hannah. "She spayed my dog, Bristol, and saw her for her first annual exam." Former Nurse Diane says "I really trust Dr. S with my cat, Gabby. She did a dental on her and did a wonderful job!" Furthermore, Dr. Mitchell utilizes Dr. Svoboda's medical and surgical skills for her own pets, Walter and Bettina.


In her spare time, Dr. Mary can be found out in the garden, relaxing with a good book, or in the kitchen preparing a gourmet meal. (She can cook ANYTHING on a grill, even blueberry cobbler!) She and her husband also enjoy kayaking and canoeing whenever the opportunity arises, as well as traveling to the Cub's winter camp in Arizona to watch them practice.


Michelle Alcantar, RDH
Hospital Administrator, Head Nurse, CPR-certified (ACVECC pending)

Michelle has been utilizing her Dental Hygienist, Veterinary Nurse, and management skills in Chicago-area veterinary hospitals for nearly 30 years. She worked for our hospital in the 1980's, then moved up the management ladder, culminating in assisting with opening a major specialty center in our area. In 2020, with her 2 children grown (the youngest is finishing high school), she felt ready to come back to a more relaxed and integrative style of practice. She contacted Knollwood, and we were delighted to welcome her back.

Michelle possesses top-notch communication, team-building, and leadership abilities, and is an exceptionally skilled dental and surgical Nurse. We look forward to learning from her and with her. At home, Michelle enjoys the companionship of a Doberman, a German Shepherd, and two rescued kitties.  


Kimberly Jones
Head Receptionist, Integrative Consultation Coordinator

Kim grew up in Bloomingdale, IL. and has many years of experience in serving the public, starting out as a gift shop manager on a cruise ship. She then developed a stellar customer service career in the travel industry as an agent for over 18 years, including during the unimaginable stress of 9/11. Kim's career in veterinary medicine began in August of 2012 at a Glendale animal hospital, where she remained until relocating to our area recently. Her amazing sense of humor has us all laughing even on our busiest, most hectic workdays.


Pets have always had a special place in Kim's heart. She shares her home with two senior rescued kitties, Charlie and Oliver - and she is thrilled to be a part of the Knollwood cat-loving family!  Kim is assisted at the front desk by Nurses Hannah and Steph.

Stephanie Callanan 

Veterinary Nurse, Certified Laser Therapist, CPR-Certified(ACVECC)

Steph came to us early in 2018 from a large area ER facility, where she provided emergency and immediate medical care assistance to injured and ill pets. She has expertise not only in these areas, but in dental care as well as surgery and primary medical patient care, where she assists our Doctors in exam rooms and in our surgical and dental suites.

Steph is a certified Therapeutic Laser Therapist in Class IV Cold Laser Therapy, through AIMLA. She is also CPR-Certified through the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. She and her husband are the proud owner of an adult Golden Retriever named Chief. 

Hannah Holota
     Veterinary Nurse, Certified Laser Therapist, CPR-Certified, (ACVECC)  

Hannah has served as a member of our Nursing Team since college graduation in 2016. She's a Certified Therapeutic Laser Therapist in Class IV Cold Laser Therapy, (AIMLA). She is also Certified in CPR. Hannah assists our Doctors with all exam room and treatment area procedures, and provides anesthetic support, post-surgical care and T.L.C. for our surgery patients. If your pet has ever taken a homotoxicologic med such as an isode or nosode, Hannah's the one who patiently and painstakingly prepared all 100 serial dilutions! 

In her spare time, Hannah enjoys yoga, golf, and spending time with  friends, family, and her dog, Bristol. Her future plans include training as a Certified Veterinary Technician.

Hospital Assistant

Chelsea heads up our Hospital Assistant team and is responsible for hospital sanitation and cleanliness, as well as for attending to the comfort of hospitalized patients. Under the direction of our Nurses, she feeds, walks, and keeps our patients clean and comfortable. In addition to supervising the training of other HAs, she has made the commitment to learn new Nurse Assistant skills, so that she can provide more support to our Veterinary Nursing staff.

Chelsea is a stellar local high school student with future career plans as a Nurse. She is also a proud "pet parent".


Hospital Assistant

Chelsea y José son completamente bilingües español/inglés y estarán encantados de facilitar la comunicación con todos nuestros clientes de Knollwood.

José joined our Hospital Assistant team because he loves being able to meet new animals and is experienced in pet-sitting and dog-walking. Currently a proud pet parent to one dog, he looks forward to adopting another dog and a cat. He's an Honors student at a local high school, is fluently bilingual (English/Spanish), and plans for a career in STEM technology. 


In his spare time, José works to maintain his AP standing in school while volunteering with organizations such as Phil's friends, where he provides support and gift packages for children and teens with cancer, and Feed My Starving Children, which distributes food to children in developing nations. He's also developed some culinary skills!

Client Connection Specialist 

Maureen's years of experience working in a large area vet hospital, before jointing our staff in 2019, remain as much of an asset to us as is her caring demeanor and calm, positive energy. Maureen headed up our Reception Team before family needs required a move back to her native Arizona. We were delighted that she chose to remain with us, working remotely as the need arises, to bring news and updates about Knollwood events and integrative healthcare to our clients via electronic media.

So...when you're freezing your tootsies off during a cold Chicago winter, you can think about sun-drenched Maureen in Arizona - and perhaps feel just a little warmer!

Need help from us?

Our paperless medical system doesn't just help us stay "green" - it helps you, too, by allowing us to access your pet's medical file quickly and to reply in the way that suits you best.  Tell us whether phone or email works best for you. If e-mail is your preferred mode of communication, don't hesitate to let our receptionists know your e-mail address - we will respond to your inquiry (and can send you appointment reminders via: (please add us to your e-list).

General information: Any team member can help with any pertinent information about your pet.

Medical questions: A member of our staff may put you on hold briefly so that you can speak to a member of our Nursing Team.

I need to talk to a Doctor: Our Doctors see patients all day, from start to close, 9am-7pm. In these C-19 times with so many pet parents working from home, our Doctors also currently field 30-50 phone calls, emails, and videos each working day. If no one other than a Doctor can answer your questions, a Nurse will collect your information, and a Doctor will return your call during her end-of day call time, within 72 weekday hours.

Business Hours

(Phone service ceases one half hour before closing time each day)


9:00am - 7:00pm


9:00am - 7:00pm


9:00am - 7:00pm


9:00am - 7:00pm


8:00am - 1:00pm





© 2021 by Knollwood Hospital for Pets. Proudly created by Danielle Perrott

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