by James Coburn – staff writer
A unique opportunity in the world of health care awaits you at the Oklahoma Center for Healthy Living, located on North Rockwell in Oklahoma City.
The clinic is modeled after a direct patient care model, said Tenessa Pinkerton, APRN, CNP, FNP-C.
As a nurse practitioner with SSM Health, Pinkerton focuses on family medicine and sees a variety of patients at the Oklahoma Center for Healthy Living clinic.
“So instead of your usual routine of billing insurances — things of that nature — it has a membership fee,” Pinkerton said. “So, these patients with a membership can see me 10 times that month. And it’s all part of that membership.” (story continues below)
Pinkerton also does individual health care planning besides primary care and urgent care at the center. Patients will oftentimes say they have already seen their physician and learned everything appeared well in their health exam. They ask Pinkerton for further explanation. So, she will sit down with patients to relate the meanings behind medical terms and diagnosis.
Membership is designed for seniors age 50 and older. Patients wanting to learn more about blood pressure medication learn from Pinkerton that medication is only a part of a healing process. She helps to navigate lifestyle changes involving exercise and healthy nutrition that helps the medication work better to achieve optimal health. Pinkerton sees the challenges people face and the rewards earned by a healthy lifestyle.
“It’s fantastic. A large majority of my heath care career was spent in emergency room services. You don’t always get to see the end result of following patients through and helping them actually attaining their health goals,” she continued. “It’s really been extremely rewarding.”
Pinkerton did her undergraduate studies at the University of Central Oklahoma and earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 2003. Pinkerton earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in 2017 at Oklahoma City University’s Kramer School of Nursing.
The Oklahoma Center for Healthy Living facility is owned by the City of Oklahoma City as part of MAPS 3. Healthy Living OKC (HLOKC) is the nonprofit organization managing the facility. SSM partners with HLOKC in support of the clinic located there.
She also has provided live health education a couple of times a month on Facebook during the pandemic. Previously the presentations were in person. That has been beneficial in reaching a larger platform of people.
“I went from speaking to 20 to 25 people to 600,” she explained.
The public is invited to a free open house at the clinic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, on Aug. 16-21; and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, Aug. 23-27 at the center, located at 11501 N. Rockwell Ave., Oklahoma City. There is no cost for admission for the open house.
Non-members will have an opportunity to learn about the clinic and/or tour the facility.
Pinkerton’s life has been touched by the people she has met. She was able to spend extra time with patients during the early stages of COVID-19 to help them learn about the impact of the virus.
“Just being another person and being there to be thanked for helping someone is always extremely rewarding,” she said.
She is often gifted with baked goods and cards of thanks from several individuals she meets at the clinic. Every day is a blessing of experiencing the joy of knowing her patients are improving their lives, she said.
“Some people may take it lightly, but I can honestly say that I have fun every single day that I come to work,” she said. “I love it. I come with a smile on when I leave the house. I encounter individuals that are doing works of art, improving their game in physical activities, learning a new game, learning a new sport. Pickle ball is really big here. That’s something new for them. Maybe learn a new skill or connect with a friend. I see that almost every single day here.”
Folks often tell her that it is so nice to have her clinic conveniently located at the facility. Members find it convenient that Select Physical Therapy is also located at the center, Pinkerton said. There are also personal trainers who are trained to work with patients living with chronic illnesses.
“I refer patients to them often and it’s always worked out and been great,” she said.
Pinkerton enjoys her primary care role of helping people achieve their wellness goals.
“I feel like a partner in my patients’ lives,” she added.
Leisure time with family and friends is rejuvenating for Pinkerton.
“I also have the added part of being here. So, I will often join a fitness class.”
Pinkerton firmly believes in practicing what she shares with patients.
“This particular clinic and this role is absolutely made for the skills of a nurse practitioner,” she said. “Being able to take that extended time with patients has been absolutely phenomenal. To be able to do that has really been a dream come true.” For more information about The Oklahoma Center for Healthy Living https://healthylivingokc.com/