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Officials say it’s vital to empower people when it comes to making decisions about their health. And part of that is accessing basic primary health care needs.
Most people might not be aware that the Wilson County Health Department offers primary care for residents.
“We want people to have a medical home,” said BethAnn Guevara, family nurse practitioner for the health department’s primary care, child health and family planning services.
Guevara said primary care will manage a lot of basic chronic conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure. That can also include women’s health issues. The primary care clinic offers an array of services including gynecological exams, general health maintenance, Pap smears, immunizations, cholesterol and blood sugar screenings, as well as infant and child care and sports and yearly physicals.
“There’s a misconception on what health departments do,” Guevara said. “There’s a lot we can do that people don’t realize.”
Not every health department offers primary care services to the community, but it is becoming a trend.
“We are on the forefront,” she said. “I think that makes a difference in what we are able to do here.”
PRIMARY CARE CLINIC
In April 2017, the health department moved into a new on-site primary care clinic. After transitioning to an electronic-based health record system, the department no longer needed a medical records room. The space was then remodeled to be a clinic, officials said. The clinic has expanded hours recently as well.
There are three exam rooms and two registered nurses in the primary care clinic where Guevara works. The office also has a Clinic B, which provides primary care for adults and children. Rebecca Hunt-Hawley is the family nurse practitioner in that area, said Wilson County Health Director Teresa Ellen. The clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“Anything a primary care doctor could do, we can do,” Guevara said. “There may be some exceptions here or there.”
Health officials say they want the community to know the clinic is available as a resource.
“Especially for people who have never really had a primary care provider,” Guevara said. “That’s huge because if people don’t go to the doctor for 20 years, they have problems that could have been caught earlier.”
The primary care clinic accepts most private insurance providers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, as well as Medicaid and Medicare. For those without health insurance, the department’s clinic has a sliding scale based on household income. It also offers lab services.
The new school year is also around the corner. And with that, some children are required to have physicals and immunizations. The primary care clinic can take care of that, too.
WELLCARE FOR COUNTY EMPLOYEES
Another service the department has added over the past several months includes Wellcare, which is for Wilson County employees.
Any county employee can be seen in the primary health clinic for health issues. If employees get sick during the workday, they can get an appointment at the primary care clinic and be seen without taking any sick or vacation time, officials said.
“When employees can go and get their health needs addressed, they don’t try to work through it and stay sick,” Guevara said. She said employees can get better faster.
“And employees can stay healthy,” she said.
For more information or to make an appointment for primary care services, call the health department at 252-237-3141.