By Tine Hansen-Turton, MGA, JD
Woods Services President and Chief Executive Officer
I have been a nurse practitioner advocate since I was 23, and here is why. I had just gotten my first professional job as the Special Assistant to the CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), which served over 150,000 people.
I quickly learned that even though hospitals were near the city’s public housing developments, people living in public housing still did not have access to quality care and would use the emergency room for all their basic healthcare needs.
To address the challenge of lack of accessible, affordable, quality care, tenant council leaders and PHA partnered with local Schools of Nursing. With funding and regulatory support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Nursing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, we established the first urban nurse practitioner-led clinics in five housing developments across the city.
PHA gave up housing units and nursing schools with Division of Nursing support, built out the health clinics, and staffed them with nurse practitioners and faculty to serve the community and be educational sites for nurse practitioner students. It was a perfect partnership! But what sold me on the model was the outcomes we experienced from nurse practitioner-led care.
Within a year, children, youth, and adults in the five communities were healthier, women were getting proper prenatal care, and people were no longer using the emergency rooms for care unless it was a real emergency. The secret sauce to nurse practitioners was their ability to build immediate trust with patients and the community. They addressed the social determinants of health, as well as the medical issues people presented.
Once I realized the magic, I was sold, and the rest is history.
For the past 25 years, I have worked to promote nurse practitioner-led care, having founded two national organizations advancing nurse practitioners as primary care providers and advocating for the scope of practice policy changes for nurse practitioners nationally and globally.
In my late 20s, I became the founding CEO of the National Nursing Centers Consortium, a non-profit organization supporting the growth and development of over 500 nurse-managed and school health clinics, serving more than 5 million vulnerable people across the country in urban and rural locations. Additionally, in my mid-30s, I became the founding Executive Director for the Convenient Care Association (CCA), the national trade association for the retail clinic industry, serving 30 million people with essential healthcare services across the country in over 3,000 retail settings.
Dr. Loretta Ford and her partner, Dr. Henry Silver, had it right. When they established a nurse practitioner’s role, the vision for the role did not evolve because of a shortage of physicians. It was developed because they too saw a void in care and realized that nurses’ role in advanced primary care roles could improve the health of children and families, and the physician shortage created a unique opportunity to implement this new role.
While I still serve as Executive Director of the CCA, I have moved to the frontline in my day job, where for the past four years, I’ve served as CEO for Woods Services. Woods Services is a 501(c)(3) non-profit population health management and advocacy organization. Along with its five affiliate organizations, Woods provides innovative, comprehensive, and integrated health, education, housing, workforce, behavioral health, and care coordination services. The people we serve, 18,000 children and adults, have intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, severe behavioral challenges, mental health disorders, and brain injuries. They have complex medical and behavioral healthcare needs.
We have hundreds of nurses and nurse practitioners who are the backbone of care for children and adults with intellectual disabilities requiring complex care. I am honored to work with them and exciting to see how we will shape specialty and primary care together for this very vulnerable population.
I could go on about all of you. However, it is Nurse Practitioner Week and time for me to thank you. As a profession, you still amaze me. I continue to see first-hand how you engage with patients and build immediate trust. Nurse practitioners were born to be on the frontline, and whether at Woods or at MinuteClinic, you are the face of the future of health care.
I share Dr. Ford’s philosophy about nurse practitioners and have experienced it first hand, “What sets NPs apart from other health care providers is their unique emphasis on the health and well-being of the whole person. With a focus on health promotion, disease prevention, and health education and counseling, NPs guide patients in making smarter health and lifestyle choices, which in turn can lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs.” Good “Primary Health”: Teamwork, Public Health, Advocacy!”
Thank you for ALL YOU DO. And a special thank you for inspiring me to be a life-long nurse practitioner advocate!