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Nurse practitioner opens a different kind of health clinic on Haworth Avenue

A medical clinic opened late last month in Newberg aims to embody a family practice clinic model that emphasizes a real relationship between patient and medical provider.

Its name? People's Community Clinic of Newberg, a nod to a famed similarly-titled clinic in Austin, Texas, where the Newberg clinic's proprietors lived until moving to Oregon four years ago.GARY ALLEN - Sheila Smith and her daughter Jacqueline opened People's Community Clinic in a professional building on Haworth Avenue in January.

Sheila Smith, the nurse practitioner at the new clinic, was looking to move somewhere she could practice autonomously. In Texas, nurse practitioners are restricted to practicing only with the oversight of a physician. But Oregon, and more than a dozen other states, allow a nurse practitioner to practice on their own, making it an attractive place for her to relocate.

At the same time, Smith's daughter, Jacqueline, was looking to go to medical school.

"And we both wanted some rain," Smith recalled.

So they came to the Portland area and Smith began working as a family nurse practitioner at Virginia Garcia health center, which first brought her to Yamhill County.

"I fell in love with Newberg, just driving into Newberg I would relax," she recalled. "I've written poetry about driving over that hill into Newberg."

Now, she's ready to open her own practice — which is the culmination of many years of visioning.

"She's always talked about opening a clinic, that's always been her dream," said Jacqueline Smith, who will also work in the clinic in the front office and as a medical assistant. Now 27, she recalled her mother bringing the idea up going back to when she was a teenager. "Now it's a reality. It's tangible."

The Smiths are joined by Michael Silverman, the third proprietor of the clinic, who will be the administrator and manager.

Not only was the Austin People's Community Clinic the namesake inspiration, but Sheila Smith hopes to bring some of the ideas behind that clinic into her new practice as well.

"It's based on the concept of social justice, that there are social determinants of health," she said, "that health is not just about whether or not you take an aspirin every day. It really is where you live, what you eat, whether or not you have a provider, and education. A lot of education."

As a family nurse practitioner, Sheila Smith can take care of all sorts of medical issues. She performs non-urgent primary care, such as managing patient's long-term health plans for chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol. She also sees patients with more acute, non-chronic conditions: if their asthma is acting up she can provide a steroid shot, for instance. And family care practitioners can also take care of some more urgent problems, including applying and removing stitches, incision and drainage, and more.

As the name might indicate, Smith hopes to take her clinic in a direction different from the modern norm.

"All those things that I've always thought were what was cool about the old family practice clinic," Smith said. "It's a personal relationship with your provider. It's a hometown feel. It's a small business."

She said she wants to work with people to help them, whatever their situation; whether it's a patient who can't leave their house, or someone struggling with getting connected with a health care provider.

"I want to make it possible for them to get healthcare," Smith said.

Another unique aspect of the clinic is its schedule: its hours will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 4 to 8 p.m., and it'll be open from Thursdays through Mondays, taking Tuesdays and Wednesdays off.

"That's always been something that's bothered me about health care: why are we 9 to 5 Monday through Friday?" Smith said. "Now (patients) don't have to take time off from school, they don't have to take time off from work."

During the three-hour break each day, Smith said she hopes to start up a project that's taken off in clinics around the country: "Walk with a Doc." Patients will be invited to step outside and take a walk with the nurse practitioner, simply a casual stroll that promotes one of the most important health-improving activities a person can do.

Overall, the clinic aims to have its patients think about health care providers in a different light.

"Clinics and hospitals now are seen as places of illness, places you go where you feel sick," Jacqueline Smith said. "But they don't have to be just that: they can be institutions of wellness."

The People's Community Clinic of Newberg opened Jan. 21 at 1821 Haworth Avenue across from the Chehalem Aquatic Center. For more information, visit http://www.peoples communityclinicofnewberg.org/ or call 503-449-8988.

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