AAPRI Staff Spotlight: Meet Our Dedicated Team

At AAPRI, we bring a wealth of expertise in the field of asthma and allergy treatment to our patients. Our dedicated team of providers is committed to taking the time to listen and care for your needs. We’ve introduced individual providers in the past, but in this Staff Spotlight, we’re focusing on our entire team—many of them are bilingual in English and either Spanish or Portuguese. We look forward to seeing you soon in one of our 3 convenient office locations!

AAPRI Staff Spotlight

Dr Z

John Zwetchkenbaum, MD 

MD, Boston University; BS, Brown University

Dr. Zwetchkenbaum, aka, Dr. Z is the chief allergist and founder of AAPRI. When it comes to treating people with asthma and allergies, Dr’s Z’s philosophy is, “treat the cause to defeat the symptoms.” This involves taking a deeper look into your condition to understand the body’s internal environment at the cellular level. “Our approach, which combines both traditional and functional medicine means we don’t prescribe medication to simply suppress symptoms, we actually look to find the root cause so we can treat it head-on and help you find long-term relief.” 

As a functional allergist, Dr. Z understands that allergies are an expression of a breakdown in the body’s immune tolerance, which is caused largely by stress. “It’s either an emotional, dietary, or inflammatory stress that ultimately changes the body’s immune response,” he explains. This triggers the release of hypercortisol, which adversely affects the protective lining of the digestive tract and the microbiome of the gut. “It’s a whole domino effect, with allergies being an expression of the underlying dysfunction of all of these different things.” AAPRI’s holistic approach includes addressing the effects of diet, sleep, stress, hormones, and fitness on your health. 

Deborah Cohan

Deborah Cohan, FNP-BC 

Family Nurse Practitioner, University of Hartford; Boston College

In her role as a family nurse practitioner (FNP) at AAPRI, Deborah Cohan treats patients with the goal of better understanding your needs. “At the initial visit we do ask a lot of questions to determine what path to follow,” she says. “We may not have all of the answers right away, we may have to do some testing, but we will come up with a treatment plan together that gets to the bottom of what brought the patient to our office. It’s a collaboration.” 

Like Dr. Z, Deborah incorporates functional medicine into her work with patients whenever it is appropriate. “I’ve seen patients respond very well to it and more and more people are looking for a more natural, holistic way to treat their illness rather than just taking another pill,” she says. “Allergy is all about inflammation and when you reduce overall inflammation in the body, it makes people less reactive to allergens.” 

Amanda Matteson

Amanda Matteson, PA-C 

Certified Physician Assistant; Wheaton College; Chatham College

“I treat all of my patients as if you’re a family member,” says Amanda Matteson, a certified physician assistant at AAPRI and a practitioner at AAPRI’s Center for Functional Medicine. “I take the time to listen so I can understand what’s going on in your body.” In her role at the Center for Functional Medicine, Amanda’s focus is on healing a person through diet and other lifestyle changes. “We say throughout the functional practice that ‘food is medicine’ because what we’re eating and consuming on a daily basis affects our health,” she says. 

It’s important to remember is that functional medicine isn’t about simply prescribing medication to treat symptoms—it’s about getting at the root cause of the symptoms. “We tailor our functional medicine program to each individual patient,” says Amanda. “Our program includes extensive lab work and testing, as well as health coaching so that you’re fully supported along the way. It’s a gradual process and definitely requires a commitment from the patient to give it the necessary time it takes, but it really does work! 

Briana Lackman

Briana Lackman, PA-C 

Certified Physician Assistant; Penn State; Johnson & Wales University

Briana Lackman is a certified PA who enjoys finding holistic solutions to patient health issues. She relishes reviewing the latest research and treatment options and believes in always going “above and beyond” to provide a high standard of care. In her role at AAPRI, Briana sees patients with a focus on diagnosis to find the underlying cause of their symptoms. “Sometimes this field of medicine feels a lot like detective work and I really like that aspect of it,” she says. “It’s very rewarding to be able to help a patient who’s been suffering for years. It’s like finally cracking the code.” 

Briana notes, “we’re always exploring what we can do lifestyle-wise to address the underlying problem before we jump to giving the patient a medication, but sometimes it’s necessary to use medication to get things under control in the short-term. But our ultimate goal is to try to find the underlying cause, and get rid of it permanently.” 

Nadine Pope

Nadine Pope

Clinical Supervisor

“Taking time to establish a trusting relationship with the patient is an important part of successful allergy treatment,” says Nadine Pope, AAPRI’s Clinical Supervisor. In this role, Nadine is responsible for overseeing all of the testing that we do at AAPRI and she takes care of a lot of things that go on behind the scenes. “After a patient is seen by Dr. Z or one of our other providers, if they need testing, particularly if it’s one of the challenges for food or medication allergies, they come to see me,” she says. Nadine performs all of the various types of testing we do at AAPRI, as well as manage the administration of immunotherapy allergy shots and sublingual allergy drops. “I’ve seen patients get a lot of benefit from both types of immunotherapy,” says Nadine. “It takes a serious commitment, but I have seen many patients who have been completely cured of their allergies.” 

AAPRI is proud to be the only practice in Rhode Island that offers sublingual immunotherapy drops. Schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated team members to learn more.

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