Page Header

News & Events

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size

Cherokee Health Systems Announces Internal Promotions

February 27, 2023

Media Contact: Brittany McCraw


Cherokee Health Systems Announces Internal Promotions


February 27, 2023

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Cherokee Health Systems (CHS) is pleased to announce several promotions within the organization. Anna Thomas, FNP-BC, MSN, will soon assume the role of clinical director for communicable diseases, Dr. Annie Kolarik will assume the role of director of LGBTQ+ services and Katie Saneford, FNP-BC, MPH, will assume the role of director of refugee services. CHS is eager to see the impact these leaders will have on improving health equity across Tennessee and enhancing the way their team provides high-quality, patient-centered care to the community.

Thomas has been serving patients at CHS as a family nurse practitioner since 2015. She currently works out of CHS’ Fifth Avenue Health Center in Knoxville. Originally from Russia, Thomas moved to Knoxville, TN in 2004 and received a Master of Science in Nursing degree from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She works primarily with underserved populations providing primary care services, behavioral health services, HIV-PEP/PrEP treatments, gender affirmation, substance use treatments and more. In her new position, Thomas is looking forward to expanding access to infectious disease prevention and treatment in primary care by providing training and support to CHS providers as well as collaborating with local, state and federal partners.

“I’m honored to accept the role of clinical director for communicable diseases. This new position will allow me to continue the work that I’m passionate about and make improvements in the way we care for people in our community,” said Thomas.

Dr. Kolarik has practiced as a primary care physician at CHS since 2020. She is a born-and-raised East Tennessean who received her Doctor of Medicine degree from East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine and completed her residency in family medicine at The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine in Knoxville. She is passionate about training the next generation of primary care physicians and holds faculty appointments at UT, ETSU and Meharry Medical College. Dr. Kolarik practices full-spectrum primary care and cares for people of all ages and in all stages of life. She has been proud to grow the LGBTQ+ services at CHS and has a particular interest in the primary and gender-affirming care of transgender and gender-diverse individuals. She enjoys lecturing on this topic and empowering other physicians and healthcare providers to make gender-affirming care a part of their medical practice.

“I’m humbled by the trust my patients place in me as their physician. In this new role, I look forward to growing and expanding our services available to the LGBTQ+ community across Tennessee. During these challenging times, it is more important than ever to make it known that all are truly welcome at Cherokee Health Systems!” said Dr. Kolarik.

Saneford graduated from the MGH Institute of Health Professions School of Nursing in Boston, Massachusetts with a Master of Nursing degree in 2015 and has been working as a primary care provider with CHS ever since. Prior to that, she obtained a Master of Public Health degree with a focus on health education and behavior from the University of South Carolina. In her current position,

Saneford provides patients with all-inclusive education and treatments for reproductive health, gender- affirming care, behavioral health care along with chronic condition management. She’s worked diligently since 2015 to start and grow CHS’ care for individuals and families who moved to Knoxville through refugee, asylee and special visa programs. Through this area of care, Saneford ensures everyone has a complete medical exam during the first weeks or months of their arrival and is provided an opportunity to establish care with a primary care provider.

“I am grateful for having been able to work with our refugee individuals and families for the past 8 years and look forward to continuing to grow this program. My goal is to ensure that we provide a safe and welcoming environment for individuals and families who move to Tennessee from other countries, with the expectation that everyone receives a full spectrum of medical care and is aware of how to access medical resources whenever they need them,” said Saneford.


Pictured L-R: Anna Thomas, FNP-BC, MSN, Dr. Annie Kolarik and Katie Saneford, FNP-BC, MPH


About Cherokee Health Systems Since 1960, CHS has been committed to ensuring Tennesseans receive access to effective, high-quality care. CHS is a Federally Qualified Health Center that serves 70,000 people annually. We offer a wide array of comprehensive health services, including primary care, behavioral health, optometry, dental and pharmacy. All of our services are available to children, adults and seniors on an ability to pay basis. CHS is a TennCare (Medicaid) and Medicare provider. In addition, CHS accepts commercial insurance for payment.