Nurse’s Guard Mission Brings Care to Rural Residents
Each year, BJC and its employees support dozens of causes, many of them near and dear to the heart for employees and their loved ones. Here is an example of that support.
As health care workers, BJC team members pride themselves on providing excellent care to the communities BJC serves — and many employees live these principles both inside and outside of their jobs at BJC.
Jim Miller, FNP-BC, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner at Family Care at Christian Hospital Monday-Friday. He’s also a major in the Missouri Air National Guard, serving as a nurse practitioner in the 131st bomb wing from Whiteman Air Force Base.
Miller served as the mission Officer in Charge (OIC) of Operation Healthy Delta Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) this year, which served the communities of Caruthersville and Charleston, Missouri.
The U.S. Department of Defense, in partnership with the Delta Regional Authority, completed the Operation Healthy Delta IRT mission in September. Their clinic provided medical, dental and optical services to residents who are uninsured, underinsured or in need of quality care at absolutely no cost to the patients. They pulled and filled teeth, handed out eyeglasses that were made on site during the mission, and gave general health exams and counseling.
“The IRT missions are designed to help communities get medical care and help the military get training,” Miller explains. “It’s a chance for the military to practice moving equipment and personnel assets into an area and set up a clinic, as we would if there were a natural or man-made disaster, while providing medical care to underserved populations.”
Miller began planning this mission in July 2016. With the support of his BJC Medical Group colleagues, he was able to plan and carry out the mission in September 2017.
“I was fortunate to have the understanding of my office staff and fellow providers at BJC Medical Group to help support me in my absences related to planning the mission,” Miller says.
He was involved from the first day of planning and coordination of the exercise, which was quite a feat because the mission consisted of different specialties from across the country and across different branches of service, including the Navy Reserves, active duty Air Force and Air National Guard.
“I know military members receive excellent training, and I witnessed firsthand how everyone works together to make all the different resources blend together to arrive and support a field mission,” Miller says.
The most rewarding part of these types of missions for the service men and women is to see the immediate positive impact the care brings to the communities served. “The ability to help fellow Missourians with our Missouri National Guard unit was an honor,” Miller says. “It was difficult to keep up with all of the positive stories of how we impacted people’s lives because there were so many.”
Among the positive patient stories, Miller was particularly touched by an older patient who broke down crying during her eye exam. “She hadn’t been able to get care for a number of years and had been suffering with poor vision the entire time,” Miller says. “She was crying tears of happiness to be able to see.
“I also enjoyed watching my fellow service men and women doing what they do best, using their skills and training to their greatest ability,” Miller says. “They worked with professionalism with many comments from members of the community reporting on their excellent care.
They also enjoyed giving back, and it helped me realize people still care about helping each other.”
The true mission of IRT is to provide much-needed care to communities that need it most, while fostering relationships within the military and providing the opportunity to train for a natural or man-made disaster.
“Civilians become healthier with stronger communities, and the military creates a cohesive group with friendships and alliances that will last for decades.”