Local nurses advocate for patient's health
After 40-plus combined years experience as surgical nurses, Antra Boyd, Sherri Valdez and Ciera Dube say they've noticed a major gap in the U.S. health care system.
There's a growing disparity, they say, between the average amount of time doctors spend with a patient and the amount of understanding a patient has about the procedures, medication and treatments that a doctor suggests.
That disconnect is the reason Boyd, Valdez and Dube have banded together to create Connected Care Patient Advocates, a firm focused on advocating on behalf of patients and helping them safely and intelligently navigate through everything from joint-care issues to cancer diagnoses.
The Lake Oswego-based consultancy group aims to provide each patient with personalized, comprehensive and continued support while seeking wellness and healing.
"We know how to talk to doctors. We know what questions to ask and how to communicate across services," Boyd says. "A client could call us for any number of reasons. For example, maybe they think a medical mistake happened but they're afraid to speak up."
Boyd, Valdez and Dube aim to be the experienced nurse in a patient's corner who has the knowledge and expertise to ask tough questions, clarify what something means or speak up when they think something is wrong. They don't offer direct hands-on care, make diagnoses or prescribe medication; instead, their efforts forcus on advocacy, education, research and the development of wellness plans.
They can accompany patients to medical appointments or hospital visits, for example, or review medical records and explain test results; they can explain diagnoses and treatment plans, investigate alternative treatment options and develop plans for future health care needs.
Dube says she first started to see the need for these kinds of services by observing the type of care her parents, grandparents and other family members received.
"There's a lack between the services of the health care providers, what you actually understand and what actually ends up happening," Dube says. "Providers have the best of intentions and want to provide the best care, but the system we work in limits the amount of time they have."
Dube explains that Connected Care is not trying to fill the position of primary care providers, but rather work with them to provide the best possible outcomes.
"We really want to partner with the providers," Dube says. "We want to take what they intend for the client and sit down with them to help them understand what the provider aims to do."
Dube, Boyd and Valdez are all independent Registered Nurse Patient Advocates (iRNPA) certified by the University of Arizona's RN patient advocacy program, which includes an 11-week online course and a seven-day residential immersion course in Tucson. The program is still relatively new — only in its 12th year — but it's growing steadily to promote a new industry of patient-centric nurse advocates, much like what Dube, Boyd and Valdez are creating with Connected Care.
For now, the marketing of their new business has all been by word of mouth. While they're based in Lake Oswego, Connected Care is willing to take patients from all over the Portland metro area, and potentially beyond.
Boyd, Dube and Valdez are each currently working with a handful of patients and are proactively looking to take on new ones. They hope to expand their business in the next year or two, they say, by hiring more iRNPAs to join their staff.
"The goal is to grow, serve more clients and get more nurses on board with specialties and knowledge in areas different than the three of us so we can serve a wider range of clients and have more resources," Dube says.
For Valdez, Connected Care's mission is very much based on outcomes, so that means the nurses place special emphasis on following up with patients to make sure their treatment is leading to 100-percent recovery and, if not, pursuing other options in order to gain the best possible care — whether that route is allopathic or naturopathic.
"This is a grassroots effort to bring (people the best care possible)," Valdez says. "It's exciting to play such a part in making the health care system work for our patients and to see them get the care that they really need."
To learn more about the company, go to connectedcarepatientadvocates.com or call 503-708-8595.