The Knollwood Team

Dr. Deborah Mitchell on Floor with grey Pitbull

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, Dr. Heather Hopkins, 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 as a volunteer with 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.

Knollwood Externs - Where are they now?
Wictora Niewiadomski 

Wictoria is a student at the College of Veterinary Medicine, at Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Warsaw, Poland. She's from Lincolnshire and earned her B.S. from The University of Madison in Wisconsin. She's previously completed externships at Piskatee Bay Stable in McHenry, where she worked primarily with horses, and at Spay Me! Veterinary Clinic in Madison, WI., where she worked with small animal surgery patients before, during, and after their surgeries.

Wictoria tells us she learned a tremendous amount during her month-long externship with us, and she's now back at school, learning more about large animal medicine.  We hope to see her again during her next school break!

Wictoria Niewiadomski Knollwood Hospital For Pets Extern
Michelle Aleantar, RDH - Knollwood Hospital For Pets Hospital Administrator

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 just finished 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'reloving working with her again, and know that you will, too! At home, Michelle enjoys the companionship of a Doberman, a German Shepherd, and two rescued kitties.  


Laura Eck

Laura is a Chicago area native, and has enjoyed working with companion animals all of her life. She's worked in the pet care field since 2006 and in the customer service field since 1996. Her career in veterinary medicine began at Grove Animal Hospital, where she developed her skills both as a Receptionist and as a Veterinary Assistant. 


Laura's amazing communication and organizational skills are an important asset to us, and we know that you'll enjoy getting to know her. Laura is an expert at caring for cats from kitten to senior, and enjoys spending time with 17 and 1/2 year old kitty Piccolo and her husband at home. 

Hannah Holata Knollwood Hospital For Pets Veterinary Nurse

Hannah Holata

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

Hannah has served as a member of our Nursing Team since college graduation almost 6 years ago. She's a Certified Therapeutic Laser Therapist in Class IV Cold Laser Therapy, (AIMLA), and is 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, 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.

Sarah Hwang 
      Veterinary Nurse Assistant

Under the direction of our Nurses, Sarah assists with all in-patient visits from start to finish. She also attends to the comfort of all hospitalized patients by monitoring them after surgery and dental procedures, keeping them clean, comfortable, walked and fed to your specifications, and prepping them for their return home to you. 

Sarah is a local college student, and hopes to gain admission to a college of veterinary medicine as part of her 5 year plan. Prior to working with us, Sarah worked at a large area veterinary hospital and pet day care facility. She's excited about the opportunity to expand her Nursing skills and to be learning more about integrative medicine at Knollwood.


Josh Hwang

Hospital Assistant

Josh helps make sure that our staff, clients, and patients stay healthy. How? By carrying out the critical role of maintaining hospital cleanliness and sanitation at all times. HAs also work under the direction of our Nurses and Nurse Assistants, to help keep our hospitalized patients comfortable during their stay with us.


Josh is a local high school student, with strong interests in band and golf.

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!

Maureen Knollwood Hospital For Pets  Client Connection Specialist

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 48 weekday hours.