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A women’s center emerges as a new health care option for Islanders

Kimberly Scheer will open a new women’s health center in town next week. The center will offer drop-in care for teens as well. - Susan Riemer/staff photo
Kimberly Scheer will open a new women’s health center in town next week. The center will offer drop-in care for teens as well.
— image credit: Susan Riemer/staff photo

Island women will have another choice for their health care when nurse practitioner Kimberly Scheer opens her new clinic next week.

Vashon Women’s Health Center, located just south of Giraffe, will cater to Island women of all ages, from adolescents to seniors, with the focus on women’s health concerns, including menstrual issues, family planning, breast health and the transitional times throughout women’s reproductive life cycles.

Opening this clinic was a natural choice for Scheer, 47, who has been a registered nurse for 24 years and a nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood since 2007, when she finished her post graduate training as an advanced registered nurse practitioner.

“I just feel like women have special needs,” Scheer said. “Women’s needs aren’t always adequately addressed. Women don’t always feel like they can talk about certain issues, and providers don’t always ask. Providers are often so rushed they address the most basic, critical areas.”

While the other clinics on the Island offer women’s health care, there have been no on-Island specialists in this area, and many women have gone off-Island for their annual “well-woman” exams and other gynecological concerns — one of the reasons Scheer felt it would be a good idea to offer specialty care for women on Vashon, she said. In her practice she will not manage general chronic health conditions — diabetes or asthma, for example — but she is concerned about women’s overall health and practices accordingly.

“Sometimes the well-woman exam is the only medical care women receive. I need to be thorough in my screening and risk assessment,” she said.

If problems arise outside of her area of specialty, she will refer patients to specialists or their primary care provider for care, she said.

Like physicians, nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat common health problems, order and interpret labs and write prescriptions. Some people prefer to see nurse practitioners, Scheer noted.

“We are known for being personable and good listeners. We focus heavily on education and prevention and take a holistic approach,” she said.

That holistic approach is evident in Scheer’s reliance on both conventional and complementary therapies, such as nutrition, herbs, exercise, yoga, massage and acupuncture, and she tailors her choices to fit each woman, according to her needs and preferences.

“I’m really big on lifestyle choices. I really think those choices become the basis of our health,” she added.

Scheer says in addition to working with women, she has a special appreciation for working with teens, who often need a private place they can go where their concerns will be treated confidentially. She will hold a walk-in teen clinic for girls and women ages 13 to 19 each Thursday.

Scheer has been thinking about opening a women’s health clinic for quite some time, even before going back to school, she said. She had her eye on her new building — a small house now freshly painted — for a long time as well, because of its charm. In February, she saw a “for lease” sign there.

“I took that as a signal,” she said. “I signed the lease agreement as soon as I could.”

Since then she has been transforming the inside to create a light-filled, comfortable place for women. In the waiting room is a gas woodstove and overstuffed loveseat and chaise lounge, and art from Vashon women artists will hang on the wall. In the exam rooms, Scheer has foregone the traditional exam tables for padded massage and treatment tables, which she will cover with flannel sheets to accompany the soft flannel gowns she has ordered.

Scheer has never set up a business before, but she has a master’s degree in nursing administration and considerable administration experience, including as the administrator of Vashon Community Care Center several years ago. She is tending to all the details of this new venture herself for now, she said, from setting appointments to taking care of billing to providing patient care. This approach will keep her overhead low and allow her to focus on flexible, quality care.

She will accept most insurance plans and will offer a sliding scale as well as discounts for patients who pay in full at the time of service.

With her focus on holistic health, one of her plans is to create a walking group — a way for women to exercise as well as share information and ideas. Scheer will walk, too.

“We’re all in the same community of women,” she said. “I can learn from them as much as they can learn from me. Together we can try to meet our goals.”

The new clinic is set to open June 11, and Scheer is looking forward to it.

“It’s such a personal type of health care,” she said. “I just want to make it a little bit nicer for women.”

Clinic opens

Scheer will host an open house at Vashon Women’s Health Center from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 9.

Office hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays. The teen clinic will meet from 1 to 5 p.m Thursdays.

Phone: 463-2777

17407 Vashon Highway S.W.

vashonwomenshealth.org

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