Many of us would love to change a state policy or two, but most of us would not even know where to begin. But for local women’s health nurse practitioner Danielle Howa-Pendergrass, it was not only something she wanted to do, but it is something she went out and achieved. She was honored with the Excellence in Leadership award last Friday night at the Utah Nurse Practitioner annual dinner for her diligent work to make change happen.
Howa-Pendergrass was raised in Carbon County and returned to the area to open a women’s health clinic. She was confronted by Medicaid regulations that made it almost impossible for her to have her own practice.
For seventeen years there has been a policy on the books that only allowed two types of nurse practitioners to bill directly and be reimbursed for their services. Only pediatric and family practice NP’s were allowed under the Balance Budget Act of 1997. This often meant that other NP’s had to work under a physician’s guidance and billing. Howa-Pendergrass would not have been able to open her own practice under this policy because she is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.
She spoke to the Department of Health and then was in contact with Senator David Hinkins, who was instrumental in assisting her to get the changes. The policy change covers all types of NP’s throughout the state and creates greater access to healthcare, especially in rural areas. There are over 1,500 NP’s throughout the state.
Pendergrass opened Eastern Utah Women’s Health Clinic last November in Price to provide healthcare for women living in Carbon, Emery and Grand counties. The clinic seeks to improve women’s health in all aspects of life by offering a personal doctor-patient relationship. She wants to make sure all women have access to healthcare, regardless of whether they are insured or not. Her clinic accepts most insurances, including Medicaid.
She is able to diagnose, treat and write prescriptions just like any physician. Howa-Pendergrass collaborates with Castleview Hospital, Four Corners Behavioral Health Services and Southeastern Utah Health Department to provide the best care available for all women in the community.
Nurse practitioners in the state nominate outstanding clinicians for recognition throughout the year. Nominations are then reviewed and the Utah Nurse Practitioner Awards Committee makes selections. Award winners are recognized during Nurse Practitioner Week and presented at the UNP dinner celebration. Awards are presented to nurse practitioners who exhibit excellence in each of the following categories: education, clinical practice, pesearch, leadership, community service, and outstanding student.