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A Special Kind of Care

Patients Are the Focus at Liberty Center Family Medicine

Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Photographer / Tony Straw

Who are you going to call when you need routine medical care, and you live in North Liberty? Access to health care in a rural area like this can be limited, until recently when Sara Singleton and Tiffany Richards opened Liberty Center Family Medicine.Liberty Center Family Medicine

For more than five years they discussed opening a practice.

With Singleton having been raised in North Liberty, and Richards in the Koontz Lake and Walkerton areas, they knew there are few options for health care without requiring a bit of a drive. Singleton and Richards, both nurse practitioners, wanted to bring their medical training to their community, making it accessible and affordable.

It is a direct primary care operation, which uses a membership base instead of the conventional insurance-reliant practice of most health-care offices.

“This means that we as nurse practitioners are paid directly by our patients, rather than through insurance companies,” Singleton says. “With the middle man eliminated we can spend as much time as our patients need to address all their health-care concerns in a comfortable, personable manner.”

Richards says there are benefits to this arrangement.

“We can offer longer patient visits, allowing the patient not to feel hurried during an appointment,” she explains. “We are also able to offer same-day or next-day visits, as we will be limiting the size of the practice. This allows us to better care for our members.”

This type of health-care delivery is designed to improve patient access to quality care. There are no quotas to meet in terms of a specific number of patients to see per day, which allows extra time between practitioner and patient.

“We set the schedule, we get to learn our members, and can allow for the extra time that may be needed for a more sensitive visit, or even just education regarding a diagnosis,” Richards says. “We also can limit our practice size. Provider panels can be over 1,000 patients, leading to provider burnout and patient dissatisfaction. By limiting the practice size, we can accommodate those Liberty Center Family Medicinesame-day visits that are sometimes needed unexpectedly.”

Direct primary care provides the same services as traditional medical practices. Liberty Center Family Medicine can obtain patient records from other providers, order testing and specialty care, and refill prescriptions. An EKG machine is also available at Liberty Center Family Medicine. The practice also does annual physicals, chronic-disease management, and acute-care needs for members, as well as blood draws for lab testing as part of the membership fee.

This level of personalized care means members get access directly to Singleton and Richards when needed. Each member is given a telephone number to reach Richards or Singleton without having to deal with an answering service.

Singleton and Richards opened their practice on July 11. The office is in the same building as the dental office of Dr. Kerry Knape. Other businesses such as a barber shop and a podiatrist operate alongside one another in the same building.

Singleton and Richards have combined experience in all age groups.

Singleton has worked in the medical field for more than 12 years, a majority of which was spent in pediatrics. She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nursing from Ball State University.

Richards has 20 years of experience in both family medicine and obstetrics. She received an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree in nursing from Bethel College, with her master’s degree earned in 2011 through Ball State University.Liberty Center Family Medicine

“Being a nurse practitioner allows us to truly work with our patients,” Richards says. “We can order tests, labs and medications, but also be your cheerleader on the sidelines rooting you on to being the healthiest you can be. It’s truly the best of both worlds.”

Liberty Center Family Medicine is located at 100 South Main Street in North Liberty. Call 574-656-3919 or visit libertycenterfamilymed.com for more information.

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