CONWAY — Family Nurse Practitioners Katie Villarevia and Jessica Lamontagne are now part of the primary care practice at Memorial Hospital’s Mount Washington Valley Rural Health.

Both are part of care teams that pair doctors with advance practice professionals. Villarevia is a member of a care team working closely with Dr. Craig Smith and Lamontagne works with Dr. Ray Rabideau.

The care team model facilitates close collaboration between doctors and other clinicians to provide coordinated care and greater access for patients.

Villarevia will be a familiar face for many patients, as before becoming a certified family nurse practitioner, she was a registered nurse at Memorial.  

She will be a key member of one of the care teams within the family medicine practice at the hospital. Villarevia said, “Dr. Craig Smith and I will be sharing a panel of patients. I’m looking forward to collaborating with him, providing excellent care and responding to patients’ needs.”

Patients may ask, “Why can’t I just see my doctor?” Villarevia would like patients to understand that they will still see their doctor in addition to others within the care team, all with a goal to open up access to appointments and improve quality of care.

“They will likely go back and forth between us, maybe seeing Dr. Smith first, then following up with me. We will review patient records together to be sure we are developing a collaborative treatment plan. We will have a shared electronic health record. Dr. Smith will make himself available to me when I need to consult with him.  If I’m seeing a patient and have a question or concern, he will be accessible.”

“I do think that with this new care model and having medical providers sharing a panel of patients and working closely together will increase access to care. We keep a number of same day care appointment slots open for things that are urgent.”

Technology is a big piece of the care team model, too.

Villarevia said: “This is my first opportunity to use the shared electronic health record system, EPIC. I can see that when utilized well it’s extremely functional.  There is access to providers using the patient portal, MyChart, which is the best way to get through to them. The entire care team monitors MyChart

messages and ensures they are forwarded to the appropriate care team member for a timely resolution.”

The care team model may be new to some patients, but it is a proven way to deliver better care and more coordinated care in a complex healthcare system. A patient’s care is still overseen by their provider, a doctor or advance practice professional. However, a team is assembled to jointly ensure all aspects of care are in place. An advance practice professional, also known as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, has undergone extensive training to be a primary provider with clinical skills to support healthcare needs just as a doctor does.

Lamontagne is the second new advance practice professional at the practice. Lamontagne grew up in Maine and always vacationed in the Mount Washington Valley. After serving in the Air Force, she had a goal to make North Conway her home.

She said: “I am excited to be working in primary care where I get to treat all ages. I love being a nurse practitioner and find it extremely gratifying when I help someone achieve wellness.” Together, they should serve to make appointments more readily available to patients.

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