BY LEANN DILBECK –
Mena has welcomed a new healthcare clinic to the community that offers a plethora of services and extended hours. First Care Family Health and Walk-In Clinic may be new to the community but its 13 healthcare professionals are familiar faces to many!
First Care Family Health and Walk-In Clinic is located at 1706 Hwy 71 North, in the former VA Clinic. First Care is a member of the HealthStar Physicians network based out of Hot Springs and is just one of 11 clinics located throughout west-central Arkansas.
Convenience is the name of the game in most industries these days and healthcare is no exception. One of First Care’s providers, Jim McWilliams, APRN, explained, “Common themes that you hear people voice discontent about is having to wait months for an appointment, or trying to squeeze in a visit on their lunch hour and having to wait an hour and a half in the waiting room. We have a busy society. People are on the move. They have jobs… and so we are really cognizant of those pressures in people’s lives. We aim to provide as much convenience in care as we possibly can, in a timely manner.”
First Care is under the direction of Kim Nance, APRN (Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner). Jim and Kim jointly hold over 63 years in nursing experience in a variety of settings.
Following a national trend that utilizes care provided by nurse practitioners, First Care’s Kim Nance explained, “Even though we don’t have a physician present, historically, it’s the same type of thing nurse practitioners do as a whole. We manage care for chronic illness and some acute situations; however, we learned through utilizing our scope of practice, when it is appropriate to have that referral base to physicians. This is becoming the national trend… in private care. Nurse practitioners fill a gap. We had a problem with gaps of care in the last 30 years. The inception of the nurse practitioner role was to fill that gap of care because we didn’t have enough people going into family practice anymore. They were outwardly migrating to specialty areas so we found in the rural areas, we just simply didn’t have enough physicians in family practice… and the ones we did have were aging out, plus, less people were enrolling in family practice, so this was a way for nurses to step up to the plate.”
At First Care, there are nurse practitioners available 24/7 for members of the clinic and Kim and Jim work with a network of 15 physicians who are incredibly supportive, Kim said.
First Care also has a full time pharmacist on staff, which Jim explained, is not to fill prescriptions, but rather to review patient records for possible interactions or side effects, etc. They are not a pharmacy. As Jim explained, there’s more than 80,000 medicines available now. “If you talk to a lot of prescribers, they’ll tell you that a lot of the symptoms that patients have are interaction between the medicines they are taking. Having an extra layer of a pharmacist’s review, you’re just doing greater due diligence to ensure that you’re not having adverse outcomes.”
At First Care’s clinic in Mena, they provide the following services: identification and management of acute and chronic illness; urgent care walk-in; health prevention and maintenance for adults and children; health and wellness exam for adults and children, including Medicare Initial Preventive Physical Exams (IPPE) and Medicare Annual Wellness Visits (MAWV); DOT and school physicals; hormone therapy for men and women; weight management; immunizations; spirometry; holter monitoring; on-site digital radiology; laboratory services; ECG testing; and allergy injection management.
There are additional services available at other HealthStar locations that help reduce cost to HealthStar members, which include: laboratory services, digital x-ray, care coordination, patient portal access, allergy testing, medication management, ultra sound, echocardiograms, behavioral health services, women’s services, pediatric services, fundus photography read by a licensed Ophthalmologist, wellness exams, transition of care for in-patient services to home, diabetic education, advanced directive discussions and VNG fall testing.
First Care is able to care for patients from 6 mos. and older. However, Kim said she always recommended specialized pediatric care for their first months of life.
First Care is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.