Addition of nurse helps round out new clinic

12/4/2012

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

The Finney County Commission on Monday hired a new advanced practice registered nurse who soon will be working at the county's Employee Wellness Clinic.

Michelle Adcock, a registered nurse for the past five years at Norton Healthcare, Louisville, Ky., recently obtained her APRN license and will begin working at the clinic in mid-January, according to a press release distributed during Monday's Finney County Commission meeting by the county's Human Resources Department.

Adcock has a bachelor's degree in nursing and biology and a master's degree in nursing. She was in the U.S. Army Reserves for 12 years with two deployments.

Ashley Goss, Finney County Health Department director, said during a phone interview that the department has been trying to find an APRN for nearly a year.

"There's a shortage of them wanting to work in a rural setting. It's hard for southwest Kansas to compete with bigger cities. Michelle currently lives in a big city, but she was raised in a very small, rural community, so she knows what the rural life is like and she's appreciative of it," Goss said.

As Finney County's nurse practitioner, Adcock will round out and complete the wellness clinic project, which has been up and running for about six months, offering county employees and their covered dependents acute health care, as well as helping to educate those with ongoing conditions.

Education is key to prevention, Goss said. Partnering with the hospital helped open a lot of resources both in prevention and education. She said healthier employees also help bring the county's health insurance costs down.

Each year, participants will undergo a heath risk assessment, which is a kind of screening process that checks basic things like blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Depending on what the screening shows, each participant receives health education about staying healthy and making healthy choices.

With the nurse practitioner in place, the employee wellness clinic will be able to provide acute care in which covered employees and their dependents would be able to walk in and be treated for common, everyday illnesses or be referred to a local provider if necessary.

"The goal is to make sure everybody has a medical home, and by medical home that means if you're sick or you need something for your well-being, you have a provider you can call and schedule an appointment. The nurse practitioner will be used as an 'in between.' Not the serious stuff, but the everyday stuff," Goss said.

Participation in the wellness program has been good. Goss said that in the clinic's first six months, 53 percent of county employees participated, which is much higher than the 33 to 34 percent participation rate predicted before the program started.

The city of Garden City offers a similar wellness program to city employees at its 302 N. Fleming St. clinic. Michelle Stegman, the city's human resources director, said the program, which is open to city employees and their families, has seen a 97 percent participation rate since it started in January.

"A number of years ago, we started down this path by having a wellness fair, offering lab work and bringing out physicians and nurses from St. Catherine Hospital to do various checks," Stegman said.

Staffed by a nurse practitioner, the city's program offers care for minor illness and injuries, as well as an educational component designed to improve employees' understanding of their health. The idea is that improved employee preventative health helps reduce the cost of the city's overall health insurance fund.

Located at the Finney County Health Department, the county employee wellness clinic will provide flexible hours to county staff.

"We are excited for Michelle to get the employee wellness clinic up and running. Finney County has been looking at ways to reduce the overall cost of health care for both employees and the county as a whole," Goss said. "Earlier this summer, Finney County partnered with St. Catherine to provide prevention strategies and screenings in order to make a healthier work community."

In other business Monday:

* The commission approved a resolution establishing fees charged for copying and accessing public records. Uli Lappin, register of deeds, said the resolution does not include an increase in current fees, but it does include changes in language to address records sent and charged via email or DVDs. She said the medium used for records has changed from computer paper and computer diskettes. Generally, information that requires a DVD are records such as deeds or oil and gas documents.

* The commission also approved the rezoning of 2785 W. Tennis Road from agricultural to rural residential.

The next Finney County Commission meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 17 at the Finney County Administrative Center, 311 N. Ninth St.

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