When the Calloway family moved to the small, rural town of Archer, Florida, 11 years ago, mother, Dominique, was in search of a primary care provider for herself and her four children. Thinking there was no closer option than Gainesville, Calloway heard from a friend about a great clinic right in her community.
She decided to check it out. The Calloways have been patients at UF Health Archer Family Health Care, or AFHC, the College of Nursing’s nurse-led primary care practice, ever since.
Calloway feels that she and her family are more than just patients. After going to AFHC for about one year, a staff member approached her near the holidays and asked what her plans were. Calloway admitted she was worried about being able to afford gifts for the children.
“All of a sudden, they came to my house bearing gifts for me and the kids,” she said. “That Christmas, they made it so special because I did not know what I was going to do to fulfill the kids’ wishes for Christmas. It just so happens that they were my little personal angels. I love them for that.”
For 20 years, the AFHC team has believed providing health care is just the starting point of the practice’s involvement in the community. Adopting families for Christmas, sponsoring youth sports teams, participating in events and hosting health fairs are just a few examples of how the practice has helped shape the community over the years. College of Nursing students also receive one-of-a-kind education there through clinical and volunteer experiences.
“Our team is an integral part of health care in this community,” said Denise Schentrup, DNP, APRN, FAANP, associate dean for clinical affairs and the AFHC practice director. “We have been taking care of the community for many years, and it really shows in the way our staff and providers care for our patients. They remember the patients, they remember details about their family, and they really make them feel like they are at home when they come here.”
Although College of Nursing community health students and faculty were present in Archer schools and senior centers for decades prior, AFHC was established in 2001 after a resident spoke up about the need for primary care in the community. Instrumental in its establishment were College of Nursing administrators Kathleen Ann Long, PhD, RN,
FAAN, dean emeritus, and M. Dee Williams, PhD, RN, then-executive associate dean and associate dean for clinical affairs, who retired in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
During the practice’s first year, a full-time office manager and a full-time family nurse practitioner were hired, and 900 patients were seen in the “little house” — a 1,200-square foot rental property. Fast forward 20 years, and the practice has expanded to about 5,000 patient visits a year, with four nurse practitioners and five staff members in a
5,000-square-foot custom-designed modular building in “downtown” Archer.
Long, who was the dean of the college when the clinic was established, said Williams was the engine that made AFHC work, doing everything from punch lists when moving into the facility, lobbying for funding, presenting the nurse-led practice model at the national level, to engaging the local community.
“Archer Family Health Care was extraordinary in the way they used creative techniques, innovation and commitment to make it work,” Long said. “It is unique in that it has lasted. I know of many rural health, primary care and nurse-led clinics that work for a couple years, and then they falter. To have this 20th anniversary in Archer is very special. It speaks to the commitment to being there and doing what is needed.”
Patients of AFHC are primarily lower-income and uninsured, and, therefore, are charged using a sliding fee scale. More than 40% of the practice’s patients lack health
insurance coverage, but AFHC providers and staff are committed to a patient-centered approach to care and building better relationships between the patient and the care team.
In addition, AFHC was designated a Rural Health Clinic in 2012, which allows the practice to offer increased access to care and receive enhanced reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid services.
“Our reach goes beyond just Archer and the southwest part of Alachua County,” Schentrup said. “We see patients from Levy County, Marion County and Gilchrist County. In those areas, there’s really limited health care, so the patients are able to come here and receive care, as opposed to driving to Gainesville when their resources are very limited.”