Throughout her career, Beverly Gann has focused on helping women and children.
A registered nurse since 1982, Gann became a women’s health nurse practitioner in 1996, and she sees patients at Ozarks Community Hospital’s primary care and specialty clinic.
“I feel like women make most of the health care decisions for their families, and if we can provide care for women, we’re really providing care for the entire family,” she says. “Every woman out there has the potential to be the mother of the next generation.”
Gann works in collaboration with Dr. Matthew Ting to treat patients ranging from preadolescent girls to elderly women. Her patient mix comprises those on Medicare and Medicaid, the under- or uninsured and patients in psychiatric group homes and nursing homes.
Gann stopped providing prenatal care about five years ago, but she still provides preconception counseling and often diagnoses pregnancy.
Part of her job, she says, is making sure potential mothers understand their risks.
“It’s not always as simple as it looks on TV, that everybody who wants to have a baby can have a baby without problems, and there’s no guarantee if you’re perfectly healthy that you won’t have problems,” she says. “For people on a lot of medications or with a lot of health conditions, it can be especially difficult and dangerous for mom or baby or both, and I don’t think it’s fair not to sit down and really explain that.”
Gann says her patient demographic requires her to be resourceful, especially if health coverage is lost. “I try to educate women that there are other facilities they can utilize (so) they don’t have to go without care,” she says. “You don’t want to be playing Russian roulette with childbearing.”
Education, particularly about sexually transmitted diseases, is important, and not just for younger patients, Gann says.
“Women who go back into the dating pool because of the loss of a spouse or divorce think, ‘I don’t have to worry about pregnancy anymore,’” she says. “That’s probably the least of your worries about what’s out there, so I have to constantly remind people (to) stay abreast of what they’re at risk for, and how to be safe.”
While Gann’s not afraid to ask tough questions and talk bluntly about risks, she says she can’t control whether her patients will heed her advice.
“It’s not up to me whether they hear it or use it, but is up to me to tell them,” she says. “I don’t get to judge – that’s not my place.” Click here for full coverage of the 2011 Salute to Health Care.