The Webster County Health Board has added a new face since the April election with the appointance of Tiffany Kirk. Kirk has been a Family Nurse Practitioner for nearly a decade and is currently with OCH Wellpointe Family Medical Clinic.
“The role of the nurse practitioner was really designed to fill a gap in rural health. So I take that really seriously, I don’t look it as just an option, I went into this role knowing I wanted to fill need, not necessarily just to have a career,” Kirk said. “I feel like filling those gaps doesn’t only have to be in the office and being on the health board, providing my knowledge and experience can benefit the county.”
Kirk grew up in Mansfield, where rural healthcare was not accessible and citizens had to drive to Springfield when seeking medical care, not unlike rural Webster County just a few decades ago. Prior to joining OCH and the health board, Kirk also worked in Neurotrauma Science ICU for six years, as well as hospice nursing and teaching through Cox Hospitals. She said she realized her desire to serve in college, where she attended SEMO in Cape Girardeau through the Bright Flight Law Program. Quickly, she determined she would be happier pursuing nursing. That’s when she said she found her niche.
“When I was working in Nuerotrauma, none of the patients ever planned on being there that day. They were all from car wrecks, strokes, things like that. I just thought that there was a great need for prevention,” she added. “I thought I don’t want to be on the tail-end of it trying to clean up the mess, if I could be on the frontlines helping to prevent people from getting there in the first place. That’s what motivated me to go on to be a nurse practitioner.”
Kirk has lived in Marshfield for six years and was officially sworn-in in April, eager to serve on the health board. With nine years under her belt, service in healthcare is nothing new to her. According to Kirk, part of the role is understanding the needs of the community and her role treating patients, seeing the needs directly, can help address trends, needs or where potential improvements can be made.
“I think it’s really important to realize the health board makes decisions that impact different programs that its going to offer,” she said. “We are also working with different resources here locally. The health unit puts on a monthly partnership meeting where individuals from across the county, such as the diaper bank, family services or different clinics in the area can network together and help in one area of health and well being. We all work together to collaborate and improve at all times.”
The health board works behind the scenes to preserve and protect public health in Webster County. Their decisions impact immunizations, programs and services offered to the community. Meetings for the Health Unit Board of Directors are held on the last Monday of each month at 3:30 p.m. and are open to the public.
“I really am very thankful and it means a lot to be able to serve on the health board,” she added. “My goal when I became a health practitioner was to be what you think of as a rural provider… somebody that’s accessible at all times that you take your family members to and you feel confident and comfortable in talking to them. So to be able to step into this role, I feel like I’m providing that comfortability and that confidence in healthcare at the county level.”
For more information on the Webster County Health Unit Board of Directors, visit webstercountyhealth.com.