Nurse Practitioners Make a Difference with Mobile Clinic

Aug 19, 2014, 2:00 PM

Nurse practitioners enjoyed prime time TV coverage when Sunday’s 60 Minutes program ran a segment about the Health Wagon, a mobile clinic serving six counties in an impoverished Appalachian coal-mining region in southwestern Virginia.

The segment, originally broadcast in April, highlighted the work of Teresa Gardner and Paula Hill-Meade, both doctors of nursing practice, who currently see approximately 20 patients a day in a converted RV, while also keeping up with up fundraising responsibilities related to the federal grants and corporate and private donations that keep the organization going.

Their patients “are people that are in desperate need,” Meade told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley. “They have no insurance and they usually wait, we say, until they are train wrecks. Their blood pressures come in at emergency levels. We have blood sugars come in at 500, 600, because they can’t afford their insulin. ...They have nowhere else to go.”

However, Gardner said, as demanding as the work is, “we get more out of it than we ever give.”

Watch the 60 Minutes segment on CBS News online.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.