Nurse practitioner is a trailblazer with rheumatology practice

October 02, 2018 05:33 PM

Rheumatology is a medical specialty focusing on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Most commonly, people with rheumatoid arthritis are treated by these specialists. However, finding care can be difficult as the number of patients is increasing as the number of doctors providing this care is shrinking. That's what makes a local nurse practitioner a unique trailblazer.

While more than 248,000 nurse practitioners are licensed in this country, Dorothy La Combe explains she's the only one in New York and just the second in the country running her own rheumatology practice. To say that she's had to jump through hoops to open her doors is an understatement.


"I don't think I've counted. I don't think I'm done," she explained.

While nurse practitioners can provide the same level of care as a physician, the rules and regulations they operate under are different. For starters, she needs a collaborating physician.

"I have to have multiple collaborative providers who are colleagues of mine who I have very easy access to and have already been using. I've been grateful for their support," she acknowledged.

She's in the process of getting admitting privileges at Ellis Hospital and most insurers are on board.

La Combe used to work in a traditional medical setting, but says the time was right to set up her own shop.

"The amount of patients is excessively increasing," she explained. "We have more patients than we'll ever know what to do with. So the lack of care is high and people have to wait about four months to get into a new patient appointment," noted La Combe.

La Combe also touts the nurse before nurse practitioner approach to treatment, that nurse practitioners have a more holistic attitude toward treatment and are able to take more time with patients to partner with their concerns.

Patient Dan McCrea, who's also a nurse, says that's a key reason he's trusting his care to La Combe.

"I feel that nurse practitioners take the time to actually sit down and listen and care," noted McCrea.

La Combe's practice in Clifton Park opened just over a week ago.


Benita Zahn

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