Many of us have become more focused on our health this past year. The Covid pandemic of 2020 and its ongoing effects have opened our eyes to the important role healthcare plays in our lives. Be it for personal benefit or the care of a loved one, healthcare has become a major player in the day-to-day. As people try to return to some sense of normalcy, the folks at PPGH have been busy at work. They have been growing their pool of professionals and developing a network that is improving the level of healthcare services available to the greater Palo Pinto area. Goodday was invited to talk to the incredible people who have been guiding these initiatives. Director of Clinics Mary Howell, Family Nurse Practitioner Carla Hay-Perdue, and Executive Director Mike Turner were all kind enough to take questions about their programs and goals.
Carla Haye-Perdue has been instrumental in founding the Gordon Clinic, so I asked Carla about her experience and some of the planning that led to the opening. She told me that the Mingus/Gordon/Strawn area has long been designated as ‘medically underserved’ and that her team worked with local governments to navigate all the red tape. Carla got it up and running and her small clinic has proven itself as a successful healthcare provider in the area. A year and a half after its founding PPGH bought the start up; and it has since provided a foundational example of the model PPGH cultivates for its clinics. She shared a few more stories about her work with the community in different areas, from school senior CPR certifications to county wide vaccination efforts. Carla also described how they used to rely solely on paper records into the early 2000s and how that now, digital record keeping and the internet have really improved the way people, and healthcare providers, can keep track of all their needs.
Family Health Clinic of Santo
This seemed a good point to bring in Mike Turner, who has been overseeing all the ins and outs of policy and medical practice for the last couple of months. Mr. Turner was eager to share all the progress Palo Pinto General was making. He explained how implementing their plans has been paying off and is allowing the expansion of PPGH options for Primary Care. During this global pandemic they added Orthopedics, Pain Management, Urology, and Pediatrics to the ‘Down the Hall’ style of patient service PPGH strives for. Quite the accomplishment! Mike added that PPGH is in the process of leveraging new technology to improve patient access and care. He said they were implementing the use of digital records that can be accessed by your medical team, as needed and agreed to by each patient, anywhere in the network. All to say that, whether you go to Gordon Clinic, the Family Health Clinic of Santo, or the developed hub of the Community Care Center in Mineral Wells, your records and treatment plan will be accessible to your medical team, if you so choose.
The group I spoke with made clear they want to bring more healthcare options to the whole of Palo Pinto county. They shared plans for future locations and how they are now utilizing the recent application of internet video conferencing for ‘Virtual Healthcare Visits’. The reality moving forward is that patients are able to save time by using virtual visits where possible. Healthcare providers can ‘see’ more patients in a given time period. As Director of Clinics, Mary Howell related that patients from all over voice their concerns about missing work and struggles with syncing up schedules. She shared that these measures also help people maintain their medications. Saying that a lot of physicians just want to get eyes on a patient before renewing a prescription. Virtual visits now allow an expedited process for prescriptions without compromising patient safety.
When speaking to Mary, I inquired as to how the different clinics were handling patient education and also if there had been any friendly competition between the clinics. I’m sad to report that no down-home company softball teams have been born of this network… yet. Mrs. Howell did mention that some of the staff put up booths at local venues and events that offer a variety of information and demonstrations of some simpler medical and personal safety skills. In a similar fashion to Perdue, they have worked with local government and schools to teach things like CPR and proper life vest use. This wonderful group of medical professionals at PPGH also spoke of their past programs for flu and general vaccinations that helped bridge our discussion into the future. As medical policies and mandates change, PPGH keeps a close eye on their current standards while also observing incoming data and innovations. Some things are changing, and Goodday has y’all covered.
For Covid testing, the bus we have become familiar with will now be moving around for drive up testing. At the time of our interview with the folks at PPGH, Junior High and High School locations in Mineral Wells were confirmed. Mike Turner said final times and locations were soon to be decided and they planned to provide the bus in locations new and old. Goodday will provide links to the updated schedules as they become available.
link for bus schedules and locations
Now that 90 percent of the population is eligible for vaccination PPGH suggests that you waste no time in signing up if you have not yet been vaccinated. Below is a direct link to the PPGH registration form. One take away from my meeting with these leaders was the importance of planning for vaccination. With supplies of the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine not yet as consistent, the clinics are asking people to keep in mind follow up visits, scheduled 21 to 28 days after their first. A bit of planning goes a long in making it easy to get the second shot, and the PPGH professionals are willing to help with reminders.
Palo Pinto County COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Form
As my conversation with this fine group was winding down, I was encouraged and impressed by all that PPGH has implemented and has planned for the future. All three see that most people are now seeking ways to better care for themselves; and how they hoped the joint efforts of the clinics would facilitate that care. Carla shared that she was involved in classes that help people learn about their health needs. Mike talked a little more about how everything was coming together under one ‘virtual’ roof, so to speak. Mary related further just how valuable it was for Primary Care to be so fluid. I prepared to leave with pleasant goodbyes and evident smiles, even from behind our masks.
As I approached the exit to the Community Care Center, I was reminded of their ideals.
Down that hall is someone’s doctor. Down the hall is someone’s healing. Down the hall can be an answer or a start to one. All reminders of a time when people had reason to develop a relationship with their physician. Maybe new technology can help recreate this bond. I left with hope that this impressive web of dedicated providers will never stop trying to reach their patients. My time with Palo Pinto General showed me they are working to be worthy of their motto…
Our Family Always Taking Care of Yours
Past Writer | I consider myself to be pretty simple. I love a good conversation and talking about how we can all come together. Mineral Wells is my home and I love watching it grow.