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Care Team

Laurie Gromer, CNP

Certified Nurse Practitioner

With more than 15 years of oncology experience, Laurie’s goal is to get to know each patient at the beginning of his or her cancer journey and to learn what makes life meaningful for each patient. She follows patients through their diagnosis, educating and equipping patients with the knowledge and understanding to cope with and manage their diagnosis. Her passion is cancer survivorship, which acknowledges that a cancer diagnosis and treatment may forever change a person’s life, but does not mean that life cannot be full and meaningful.

She feels privileged to work with a wonderful team dedicated to improving the quality of life for patients with head and neck cancer, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists, and nutrition specialists, just to name a few.

Laurie attended graduate school at South Dakota State University in Brookings, and is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.  

Her free time is spent with her husband, kids, extended family and friends.


Suzanne Bakken, CNP

Certified Nurse Practitioner
Suzie specializes in head and neck cancer care and surgery in our Sioux Falls, S.D. location. She attended graduate school at University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and is certified by the Adult Nurse Practitioner: American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Jennifer Schmidt, RN

Jennifer Schmidt, RN

Oncology Nurse Navigator

Jennifer has been the head and neck cancer nurse navigator since 2010, and has more than seven years of experience in nursing and oncology care. She provides individualized assistance to patients, families, and caregivers and serves as an advocate to promote timely, efficient, patient-focused and compassionate care. She is passionate about empowering and educating head and neck patients throughout their cancer journey and believes patients should have the information they need at the right time in order to make the best possible decision about their care.

Jen prides herself on being a consistent point of contact for patients and families as they transition between care settings and helping them understand the information they receive from multiple providers. She believes each patient and family have unique needs and barriers to care. 

Jen has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from South Dakota State University in Brookings. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with family, cooking, reading and gardening.


Corinne Kompelien, RN, OCN

Corinne Kompelien, RN, OCN

Oncology Nurse Navigator

Corinne has worked in oncology nursing at Sanford since 2007. She feels called to advocate for oncology patients and their distinct needs. Corinne believes knowledge is one of the strongest tools a patient can have when facing a cancer diagnosis and she has a passion for providing that education to her patients and their families. The nurse navigator role allows Corinne the opportunity to bring together all aspects of patients' diagnosis and treatment into a manageable, understandable package. 

Corinne feels a special privilege in the opportunity to work with patients through the entire continuum of their cancer treatment.

Corinne has a bachelor's degree in nursing from South Dakota State University in Brookings. She obtained her certification in oncology nursing in 2013. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family and a variety of activities such as reading, cooking, gardening, and sewing.


Amy Baete, MBA

Amy Baete, MBA

Head and Neck Program Coordinator

Amy works closely with patients and their families to ensure an exceptional patient experience. She serves as the liaison between our patients and the multidisciplinary clinic team and answers questions about financial assistance, way finding, follow-up care, transportation and concierge services.

Amy received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Northern State University and has a Master of Business Administration in health care management from University of Sioux Falls. 

Amy joined Sanford Health in 2010 and became part of the head and neck cancer care team in 2015.

As a native South Dakotan, Amy enjoys spending time outside in her flower garden and is a self-proclaimed antique junkie. She and her husband, Adam, have one son.


Research Team:

Lora Black, RN

Lora Black, RN

Director of Oncology Clinical Trials
Lora obtained her registered nursing degree in 2002 and Master of Public Health from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., in May of 2015. The primary focus of her career has been in adult oncology, both in the research and inpatient setting. She is a certified clinical research professional from the Society of Clinical Research Associates and an oncology-certified nurse. In her current role, Lora is able to continue the quest for improving patient care through research. In her time away from work, Lora enjoys spending time with family and cooking.

Christie Ellison, BSN, OCN, CCRP

Christie Ellison, BSN, OCN, CCRP

Clinical Research Project Manager

Christie works with our patients and their families to help answer their questions about clinical research and acts as a liaison between our doctors and the research team.  With more than 20 years of nursing experience, Christie has been with Sanford Health’s clinical research program since 2008. She has spent the last 10 years of her career working with patients involved in various oncology clinical trials, but has recently been focused in head and neck cancer clinical trials.

Christie is an oncology-certified nurse and is also certified as a clinical research professional from the Society of Clinical Research Associates. She not only enjoys her work in research, but is always seeking opportunities to enhance her knowledge of the field.


Amanda Mensing, MS

Amanda Mensing, MS

Clinical Research Coordinator

Amanda works alongside patients and their families to help them understand the risks and benefits of our clinical research trials.  She spends her time answering questions about research studies and acting as a patient liaison for the physicians and staff. Amanda has been with Sanford Health for over 14 years. She has spent the last 2 years working for Sanford Clinical Research.

Amanda joined the Head & Neck Cancer Team in June 2015. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Management and a Master’s Degree in Project Management from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Amanda looks forward to assisting with the implementation of future cancer research trials.

In her spare time, Amanda loves spending time with her husband of 7 years and their twin boys. She loves music, comic book movies, and spends her football season cheering on the Minnesota Vikings.


Jan Wernisch, BSN, OCN, CCRP

Jan Wernisch, BSN, OCN, CCRP

Senior Clinical Coordinator

Jan is an oncology certified nurse and a certified clinical research professional. She works closely with physicians and clinical trial patients.  Jan helps identify potential research candidates and then helps those patients throughout their journey—from enrollment to the post treatment phase.  

Jan has been a nurse for more than 25 years and has spent 20 years working in adult oncology.

She joined Sanford Clinical Research in 2006 and spends her time working with clinical trial oncology patients.  Jan enjoys her work and believes that her professional experiences have provided her with an opportunity to continually advance her knowledge and skills.


Cindy Houge RN, CNOR, CST

Cindy Houge RN, CNOR, CST

Cindy obtained her nursing degree in 2006. Her past experience includes work as a Certified Surgical Technician in all surgical specialties. Currently, Cindy holds certifications as a Certified Surgical Technician (CST) and Certified Nurse of the Operating Room (CNOR). She is currently finishing her BSN at USD. 

Cindy has been with Sanford Health for 22 years and has spent the last 5 years working at Sanford Research. As a project nurse in the Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention Research (CHOPR), Cindy enjoyed working directly with diverse and underserved populations enrolled in health promotion and prevention studies. 

Currently, Cindy is working in Sanford Clinical Research Oncology. She works closely with patients, physicians and clinic staff providing patient education on clinical trials, following them through the treatment cycle into survivorship. She is honored to help patients through this journey and is devoted to ensuring patients are cared for with respect, dignity and cultural appreciation. 

A lifelong learner, Cindy enjoys her work in oncology research and is always seeking opportunities to increase her knowledge and provide excellence in patient care. 

Some of Cindy’s favorite things outside of work are enjoying music, ethnic foods and entertaining friends, as well as weightlifting, backpacking and needlepoint.