Huddleston, a quaint country town nestled near Smith Mountain Lake, boasts a medical center whose team of talented nurse practitioners are making Virginia history. The center, built into the country landscape, is Huddleston Health and Wellness, and is completely run and maintained by nurse practitioners.
A substitute for House Bill 793 was recently passed stating nurse practitioners with more than five years of experience do not require an attending physician to practice medicine. This substitution was a huge step towards lowering the walls against nurse practitioners, allowing them to offer an affordable, holistic healthcare option to many rural residents.
“With this practice we really have the ability to demonstrate what nurse practitioners can accomplish,” said Phyllis Everett, Huddleston Health and Wellness founder and adult nurse practitioner.
According to Everett, an office run by nurse practioners offers the rural area a more cost-effective form of healthcare. Nurses are educated to evaluate a patient’s overall health, taking into consideration their mind, body, and spirit. This total-body approach and ongoing care has shown to minimize hospitalizations or rehospitalizations.
“What makes us less expensive is that our outcomes are better,” Everett said. “When you have better outcomes, your patients are not as sick, and they do not need to go to urgent care or a hospital as often. That is where the cost savings come into play.”
There are four nurse practitioners working at Huddleston Health and Wellness; Everett, Rosie Taylor-Lewis, Renee C. Nauful, and Katherine M. Shelor. Everett has more than 12 years of experience in hematology, oncology, hereditary cancer genetics, and primary care. Dr. Taylor-Lewis (who has a Doctor of Nursing degree) has 25 years of experience in adult and gerontological primary care, acute care, and student health. She also has more than 38 years of experience teaching nurses at all levels. Nauful has more than 20 years of experience specializing in physical and mental health for patients of all ages, and Shelor has over six years of experience as an RN in pediatrics.
This large variety of care, as well as their ability to accept a broad range of insurances, allows the medical center to offer care to rural residents who may not have had a primary care physician previously. Beginning in July, they will also begin pairing with the community’s parents to accept pediatric patients for their first appointments all the way through adulthood. This longstanding attention to health allows the nurses to develop relationships with patients to gauge current health, place patients on a path to optimal health, and achieve future health goals.
“I think people feel like they are listened to when they see a nurse practitioner,” Everett said. “They really crave that time from their provider. They want to go deeper with their health.”
In addition to their dedication to providing patients with the time they crave, the Huddleston Health and Wellness Center is paving the way towards advanced knowledge about patients’ health using pharmacogenetics and Boston Heart, an advanced cardiovascular risk assessment tool—two advanced medical techniques rarely practiced in the area.
Pharmacogenetics is the study of how genetic predispositions affect a patient’s ability to metabolize commonly-used drugs. Everett began studying this practice after her sister had similar testing about five years ago, noting genetic issues that could interfere with drug metabolism. Realizing how these results could affect herself and other family members revealed how important the testing is, and Everett knew pharmacogenetics would be an integral part of her practice in Huddleston.
“I see how helpful pharmacogenetics is in clinical practice,” Everett said. “Before starting a patient on a certain medicine, I want to first know what to give them; the right drug, and the right dose. Knowing how their body uses the medicine will reduce the instances of side effects and get them to the goal of treatment faster.”
Pharmacogenetics is rarely offered in primary care settings, and Everett looks forward to the increased knowledge the testing will offer to her patients and their families.
The Boston Heart Diagnostics will also improve knowledge by analyzing four categories of cardiovascular health: lipids, inflammation, metabolics, and genetics. According to the Boston Heart Diagnostics official website, these specialized tests provide a better understanding of your heart health, best medication options, and overall risk factors. Identifying and minimizing these risks before they become an issue, as well as placing patients on the best path to a healthy lifestyle, are ways Everett plans to improve the community’s overall health.
“What I love about Huddleston Health and Wellness, besides the warm and welcoming folks of the area, is that we are using evidence-based, revolutionary diagnostic criteria,” Lewis said. “These criteria are used to provide traditional and alternative treatment options, allowing us to partner with patients to give them a better understanding of their health choices and what their role is in their health. I take all the time I need to determine what is going on with the patient through a thorough history and diagnostic assessment.”
Along with medical care, Everett is excited to be planning future seminars for members of the local community. These trainings will be held by the nurse practitioners and their colleagues in the region and will focus on common problems such as cardiovascular health, women’s health care tips, pediatric topics, and more.
“A large part of patient care must focus on prevention of illness and chronic disease to be effective,” Everett said. “I want our patients to learn how to manage those risks to their health that they can control, and that management often starts with a patient’s knowledge and understanding of what their current state is and what the path to health entails.”
Huddleston Health and Wellness is accepting new patients; they accept a variety of insurance plans and also treat patients who do not have insurance. The practice is open each Monday and Friday, and some other mornings during the week as staffing allows. The goal is to be open during full regular hours as the practice grows.
Learn more at huddlestonhealth.com.
AT A GLANCE
Located: 10102 Leesville Rd., Lynch Station
Employees: 6 (4 nurses, 1 office manager, and 1 part-time clinical pharmacists)
Signs of Growth: Recently started accepting pediatric patients; planning future seminars for the community