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New Physician Assistant Fighting the War on The Mind


HANFORD – Despite living through traumatic events, such as fleeing a bloody civil war when he was a boy, Jacob A. Ayuen has kept his faith in God, and has been given the opportunity to help people fight a different type of battle – the war on the mind.

Ayuen is the new physician assistant at Community Care – Hanford Behavioral Health; treating depression, anxiety and other behavioral health problems.

“It’s important that we treat behavioral health issues and get people back to a normal state of mind, so they can be productive in society and support their families,” he says. “Our goal is to restore their lives.”

Ayuen saw his own life turned upside down at an early age. He was one of The Lost Boys of Sudan, a group of 20,000 Sudanese children who fled civil war in 1987 for a chance at a better life. Nearly 4,000 of them eventually found refuge in the United States, and he was one of them.

“I was separated from my parents at the age of 8 because of civil war in Sudan,” Ayuen says. “I remember walking barefoot, with no clothing, for more than a thousand miles to get to Ethiopia.”

After living in Ethiopia for four years, he and the others were forced to leave because civil war broke out in that country, too. They walked from Ethiopia, back through Sudan and to Kenya. It was in Kenya where he met his wife. Ayuen would leave Kenya after 10 years to pursue his dream of working in medicine in the United States. The day he got on the plane was Sept. 11, 2001.

“I was actually on a plane headed to Vermont the day of the September 11th attacks,” says Ayuen. “Our plane was diverted to Canada, where we stayed for two weeks.”

When he finally made it to the U.S., he became part of the Vermont Refugee program, which brought some of The Lost Boys of Sudan to the U.S. to find work. After he graduated from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont in 2006, he worked as a phlebotomist for the American Red Cross. He then worked as a lab technician in Boston. In 2008, Ayuen’s wife and two sets of twins joined him in the U.S. They moved to Omaha, Neb., where he continued to work for the American Red Cross. In 2011, he sought physician assistant training at Union College in Lincoln, Neb., which is a Seventh-day Adventist college. After graduating from the program, he earned his certification from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

Ayuen chose to pursue his career in the Central Valley because of the Adventist Health system. He says his mission to provide health care to the poor, aligns with our mission, vision and values.

“I thank God for giving me the opportunity to do this,” says Ayuen. “Hard work pays off. If you work hard, you can get ahead.”

Ayuen has a wife and six children, including two sets of twins ages 9 and 6, a 5-year-old and a newborn. He’s fluent in English, Sudanese [Dinka] and Swahili.

To reach Ayuen or any of the other 11 providers at Community Care – Hanford Behavioral Health, 1025 N. Douty St., call (559) 537-0246. Adventist Health / Community Care has three other behavioral health clinics: Selma Central, 2141 High St. with a phone number of 559-891-2611; Kerman, 100 S. Madera Ave. with a phone number of (559) 846-9370; and Coalinga, 155 S. Fifth St. with a phone number of (559) 935-4282.