In addition to serving the community’s medical needs, the Family Wellness Center is providing a standardized training environment where nursing graduate students can gain valuable hands-on experience.
The need for accessible health care in Central Texas is staggering. According to the Texas Comptroller’s Office, 17.9% of the population in the Austin-San Marcos metropolitan area does not have health insurance. Moreover, the community suffers from a significant lack of clinics that can medically serve these people. To help address this community need, in April 2007, the School of Nursing established the Family Wellness Center. The Center is a primary care facility serving the dual purposes of providing medical care to the uninsured residents of Austin and Travis County and offering a standardized clinical training program for nursing graduate students.
In late 2008, the Family Wellness Center merged with the Community Women’s Wellness Center, which has been operated by the School of Nursing since 1991. The Community Women’s Wellness Center is now the Women’s Wellness Program, which provides breast and cervical cancer screening for low-income women. The 3,000 square-foot facility is equipped with five exam rooms, a reception area, a laboratory, and a research office. It is centrally located along city bus routes and has a large parking lot, making it convenient for the population it serves.
In its inaugural year (2007), the Family Wellness Center provided 557 visits or services, involving 365 patients. In 2008, 1,754 patient visits occurred. Since that time, the Center has grown dramatically with over 3,100 visits in 2009, and nearly 5,000 visits are projected for 2010. Most of the patients that visited the Center in 2008 were adults (90%), Hispanic (55%), female (70%), and had incomes below the federal poverty level (77.5%).
In addition to serving the community’s medical needs, the Family Wellness Center is providing a standardized training environment where nursing graduate students can gain valuable hands-on experience. Previously, these students were placed in various public and private clinical settings around the Austin area. The Center now allows the School of Nursing to standardize the curriculum for the clinical training component for many family nurse practitioner students and thus better supervise its implementation and utilization.