Alexinna Johns Joins Nantucket Cottage Hospital As New Year-Round Family Physician

Alexinna Johns was just nine-years-old when her family fled political unrest in Sierra Leone. At 12, she decided she wanted to be a doctor. It was the start of a journey that has ultimately led Johns to Nantucket, where she arrived last week as the island’s newest year-round primary care physician at Nantucket Cottage Hospital. 

Dr. Johns will be practicing the full spectrum of family medicine with obstetrics at the hospital’s outpatient clinic, with a focus on addiction medicine. She started seeing patients last week, and shortly after delivering her third baby at the hospital Tuesday afternoon, she spoke with the Current about her new role. 

“As a provider you get emails from recruiters all the time, and I got one for this job on Nantucket, and something rang about it,” Johns said, even though she had never been to the island before. “I said I’m interested and I came over for an interview.”

After Johns met last year with Drs. Diane Pearl and Mimi Koehm, two of Nantucket Cottage Hospital’s longest serving physicians, she was sold. 

Johns has been settling into her new role and getting the lay of the land at NCH over the past week while helping her 11-year-old son make the transition into the Nantucket Public Schools. They are temporarily living in housing the hospital has provided that will allow them to get settled before Johns begins a search for a year-round home on the island. 

Beyond family medicine and obstetrics, Johns said she has a passion for addiction medicine and is licensed to prescribe medications in that area. She knows it is a service that has been challenging to provide on the island.

“I have a heart that breaks for people who are struggling and I want to partner with them in the journey of recovery so they can be successful,” said Johns, who hopes to get board certified in addiction medicine. “And that’s how I approach medicine in general, to partner with my patients so they can be successful in life.”

After her family fled the political unrest in Sierra Leone, they arrived in New York before settling in southern California. Johns and her twin sister are the middle siblings of eight children her parents came with to the United States. 

“My parents did a good job of making it a seamless transition,” she said. “The hardest thing was that I remember going into classes and my accent was so strong, it was obvious I wasn’t from this country and it was difficult to feel accepted.”

Johns attended the University of California, Riverside, where she graduated with honors, followed by medical school at the Ross University School of Medicine. Following residencies and fellowships, she landed at Western State Hospital in Washington where she practiced family medicine and geriatrics prior to taking the job at NCH.

“I believe my background unintentionally prepared me for this role, growing up and understanding strife and struggle really gives you a wider perspective on the human experience,” said Dr. Johns. “My experience helps me understand the patient at a more personal level and allows me to better navigate their care.”

Her first impressions of Nantucket? 

“It’s cold,” she said with a laugh. “It’s really cold. Colder than I ever could have imagined.”

But she gave high marks to the welcome she has received from the hospital community, as well as her son’s teachers at the Nantucket Public Schools. The Birthplace staff she said “is fabulous. The nurses are amazing.”

Johns’ hiring by NCH comes less than a year after Dr. Joel Hass announced his resignation from the hospital’s medical staff.

Dr. Johns is accepting new patients, and those how would like to join her practice should call NCH at 508-825-1000.

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