Nurse Practitioners taking prominent role

By Wayne Allen

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If there’s one thing for certain in modern health care, it’s change. Part of that change has brought with it a more prominent role for nurse practitioners.

“The role of nurse practitioner has changed, because the government recognized there were a lot of patients that did not have access to primary care,” Dana Beck, a Nurse Practitioner with Southern Ohio Medical Center said. “The government realized if we (nurse practitioners) can get people primary care, preventative medicine and managing and preventing chronic illness we can decrease the amount of hospitalizations and keep the community healthier and there will not be such a huge cost for care.”

SOMC has formed a partnership with Smith’s Pharmacy to open a facility in South Webster. Smith’s opened a pharmacy and SOMC has placed Beck as a Nurse Practitioner in the pharmacy. Services offered by SOMC there include, primary care as well as general laboratory services. Beck is able to see patients 12 years old and up. They also offer same day sick appointments.

Realizing there were not enough family health care physicians, the role of nurse practitioners was called upon to provide the same level of care.

SOMC has moved into Greenup County, Kentucky, to a facility located next to Tammy Jo’s Dance Studio in Greenup. SOMC has a Nurse Practitioner at the facility.

The Greenup facility sees patients 12 years old and up and provide primary care services and same day sick appointments.

“So many more people are in need of healthcare that nurse practitioners are filling the void, that family practice doctors leave,” Sherry Whaley, Nurse Practitioner with SOMC in Greenup said.

Beck and Whaley agreed that educating patients is a point of pride for them.

“We take a lot of pride in educating our patients, empowering our patients and helping them to be as independent as possible. We don’t want to just diagnose and treat you, we want you to know why you have what you have and what you can do to control it,” Beck said.

Whaley said in Greenup she’s able to see patients from the day they are born to the day they die.

“I can be the front line for the patient in the community. They can see me and I can hopefully diagnose their problem and help them with what’s going on,” Whaley said.

When asked if she sees the role of nurse practitioners become more emphasized in the future, Beck said, “we’re going to be a vital part of getting people access to care. When you think about it, when you needed care you would call your family physician and could not get an appointment. You had to go to the urgent care or emergency room if you were ill. Now there’s more providers and access to care”

When asked if she thought the roll of nurse practitioner evolving in the future Whaley said, “I do as we continue to grow, There are more nurses going back to school to become nurse practitioners. When I went through school I was amazed at the number of students coming from the nursing program.

Beck said one of the biggest misconceptions of a nurse practitioner is patients believing that they will not get the same amount of care they would receive from a doctor.

“We (nurse practitioners) have the same amount of access to testing and technology a physician would. We can order the same tests and treat them with the same modality a physician can,” Beck said.

Beck said Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) is starting to put an emphasis on the care a nurse practitioner can provide a patient.

“I’m out in South Webster and I’m a lot busier than they thought I would be. People that work can’t really take time off to get to their provider, so we’re trying to extend hours and put clinics in convenient locations,” Beck said.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT

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