It turns out that local nurse Mary Brown was the person who brought
the town's need to the attention of SIU School of Medicine. At the
time, she was working for both Vonderlieth Living Center in Mount
Pulaski and SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. Brown worked for
Vonderlieth for 12 years as an administrator and two years as
director. She also worked for Dr. James Borgerson in Mount Pulaski
for 18 years.
The Mount Pulaski Rotary Club also helped facilitate
the arrival of the clinic, which is in the very same office that had
been vacated by Dr. Schmidt.
The clinic is currently open on Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m.
to 5 p.m. and offers adult primary care (age 16 and up) through
nurse practitioner Cara Gravlin. As the needs of the community grow,
the clinic plans to be open more days of the week and to add child
A nurse practitioner, as defined by SIU School of Medicine,
"provides a broad range of health care services … taking a patient's
history, performing a physical exam, ordering appropriate laboratory
tests and procedures, diagnosing, treating and managing acute and
chronic diseases, providing prescriptions and coordinating
referrals, counseling and providing patient education."
Again it was Mary Brown who was vital to the process, as she was
the one who convinced Cara Gravlin to take the nurse practitioner
job at the Mount Pulaski Clinic. "I asked Cara if she wanted to come
to Mount Pulaski -- I knew she'd be a good fit in a small town,"
Gravlin, who lives in Springfield and also works at the
Springfield clinic, stepped up to take the position. She is a
certified nurse practitioner with the Department of Internal
Medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and SIU
Physicians and Surgeons. She received her bachelor's degree from St.
John's Hospital College of Nursing in Springfield and her master's
degree in nursing at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
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Gravlin attaches a justifiable importance to her work as a nurse
practitioner and views it as "an answer to the nation's health care
crisis." More and more we are seeing the local town doctor becoming
a thing of the past. "There are fewer doctors in primary care
filling the void left in rural communities, and they are barely
supported in larger communities," says Gravlin.
Gravlin follows a number of chronic problems in adults, including
heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes,
arthritis, colds, flu, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
depression and anxiety. The clinic also employs a collaborating
physician, Dr. David Resch, who visits monthly and also is available
by phone and page.
The clinic is one of the first facilities in a small town,
according to Gravlin. It is part of the SIU School's Rural Health
Initiative, which has developed about 80 partnerships and programs
in central and southern Illinois communities.
Since opening in April, the clinic has developed a patient base
of 75 people. The goal is to treat 20-30 patients a day and then to
expand the number of days the clinic is open.
The clinic currently offers services to patients who are age 16
or older. There are no restrictions on residence, and in fact many
of the patients come from the surrounding smaller towns and rural
areas. The clinic accepts health insurance plans, including Blue
Cross and Medicare.
The clinic receptionist, Jo Hilliard, worked previously in
Lincoln in long-term care. For more information or to set up an
appointment, call 217-792-3442 Monday and Thursday, 8 a.m-5 p.m.
[By GEOFF LADD]