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Advance Practice Providers Help Provide Access to Care


Munson Healthcare hospitals recruit PAs, NPs, CRNAs, CNMs to meet needs

Ensuring northern Michigan residents have access to health care remains an important part of Munson Healthcare’s agenda.

In addition to recruiting 62 physicians during the past fiscal year, the health system also recruited 31 advance practice professionals – physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists.

At Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital, Chief Operating Officer Kirsten Korth-White said advance practice professionals are a strong component to the hospital’s strategy to provide health care access to her community.

“We are committed to meeting the needs of Grayling and the communities around us,” she said. “Advance practice providers serve a critical role and partner with our physicians in addressing primary care needs.”

Physician Assistant Jeff Fox, PA-C, is one of those providers who offers primary care to residents in the region. He initially arrived in Grayling 18 years ago from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., intending to spend a few years and leave.

“I ended up loving it up here,” he said. “I enjoy that my job allows me to provide care for all ages when they are sick or injured and being able to be that somebody that they can rely on that will be there almost every day for them.”

As a physician assistant, Fox, and other advance practice providers are under the supervision of a physician and he turns to physicians in his office when he faces something he is unfamiliar with or needs assistance with.

At Munson Healthcare Cadillac Hospital, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Ryan Diegel, CRNA, joined the hospital this summer after training and then working for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He has been a CRNA for eight years and enjoys the technical skills it involves.

“We are very fortunate in Cadillac to have a mix of anesthesiologists and CRNAs who work very collaboratively,” he said. “As a CRNA we do everything from nerve blocks for orthopedic surgeries to OB care, C-sections, to care for all types of patient needs using various anesthetic techniques.”

In addition to working at Mayo, he worked in a rural area of Wisconsin, and as a Michigan native is happy to be back in the state. “We like being in a country region with access to camping and lakes and smack dab in the midst of our family now. It’s been a nice transition.”

Cadillac Hospital Vice President of Operations Mike Zdrodowski said he appreciates Diegel and the other advance practice professionals in his community. “They are an important part of the hospital having the available resources needed to serve the community at a time when physicians are not always available to us,” he said. “These are well trained and skilled professionals who play a significant role in completing our mission.”

Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital CEO Lyn Jenks testified before a state Senate subcommittee late last year on the importance of CRNAs for rural hospitals such as the one in Charlevoix. She also values the work of the advance practice professionals in her community.

“We are grateful for their efforts on behalf of our patients and for the ways they help rural hospitals like ours continue to thrive,” she said.

Family nurse practitioner Jean McDonough, FNP-BC, is among those professionals and returned to Charlevoix in July 2015 to the hospital where she held her very first nursing job. As a family nurse practitioner she serves as a primary care provider under the oversight of a physician. Her clinical experience includes pediatrics, family practice, women’s health and urgent care. She has a passion for children and adolescents, having been involved for 12 years with Camp Quality of Michigan, a non-profit organization that supports children with cancer and their families.

“Charlevoix is a great community and I’m grateful to be back and be a part of ensuring our patients have continued access to care that is close to home,” she said.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed legislation that expands the scope of medical practice for advance practice registered nurses that include nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists. The law allows them to prescribe medications under the delegation of a physician and order physical therapy, speech therapy, and restraints autonomously.