UDM opens nurse-managed center for working poor

Healthy Times, Winter 2002

Access to quality health care just got a lot better for the uninsured in one eastside Detroit community, thanks to the University of Detroit Mercy College of Health Professions, which opens its new McAuley Nurse Managed Primary Care Center in January.

The center is located in what was once the emergency room of a hospital that closed several years ago. Its staff of UDM nurse practitioner faculty and students provide free primary health care to patients who have long been medically underserved.

“Most of our patients are working poor. They earn enough that they don’t qualify for assistance, but their jobs don’t provide health insurance,” says Professor of Nursing Joan Urbancic, the clinic’s project director. “Their overall health care is poorer than the city as a whole, and they’ve had greater difficulty obtaining primary care.”

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health Division of Nursing, awarded UDM a grant of more than $1 million over five years to support the center. In addition, Trinity Health, which owns the building, is providing the center with equipped examining rooms, administration spaces and utilities.

Because UDM nurse practitioner faculty and graduate and undergraduate students operate the clinic, they’re able to deliver quality, cost-efficient care to patients.

“Nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat 80-to-85 percent of primary health care conditions,” notes Urbancic. “They prescribe medication, order labs and x-rays, and handle a full gamut of care. Trinity has two physicians on site with whom we consult on complex patient care, when needed.”

According to Urbancic, the center will be very active in health promotion and disease prevention activities.

“We have extensive plans for patient education and community outreach. We’ll be sponsoring health fairs, and working closely with local churches and schools,” she says. They’ll be assisted in the near future by students and faculty from additional UDM programs, including physician assistant, dental, addiction studies and others.

“It’s going to be a significant interdisciplinary effort,” says Urbancic. In addition to providing valuable clinical experiences for students, the center will provide opportunities for health care research.

“We’ll be in a position to observe the outcomes of care,” says Urbancic. “And because we have a family focus, we’ll be able to provide family nursing care because, typically, health problems in one family member often affect all family members in some way.”