Nurse Practitioners Help Deliver Mountain Healthcare

Nurse practitioners play an important role in delivering healthcare in the mountain communities. (File Photo)

Lake Arrowhead, CA – Chances are, if you have received healthcare, you have been treated by a Nurse Practitioner.

Nurse practitioners Erin Welch, Andrea Eckstein-Fillers and Cecile Dahlquist are affiliated wuith the MCH Rural Health Clinic. (Photo by Mountains Community Hospital)

Nurse Practitioners work in a wide variety of settings, including outpatient clinics, private practice, emergency rooms, urgent care centers and hospitals.  Numerous studies have shown that Nurse Practitioners consistently provide quality healthcare with high levels of patient satisfaction.  Despite this, there remains a lack of understanding as to what the role of a Nurse Practitioner is and what role they play in the delivery of healthcare.

A Nurse Practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has completed graduate level education, usually either a Master of Nursing degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Nurse Practitioners diagnose and provide appropriate treatment through comprehensive history taking, physical exams, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests and prescribing medications.

All Nurse Practitioners started their careers as Registered Nurses and usually bring a love of patient education and patient centered care to their respective practices.  Nurse Practitioners can serve as a patient’s primary healthcare provider and see patients of all ages depending on their specialty (family practice, womens’ health, pediatrics, geriatrics etc.).

To become a licensed Nurse Practitioner, certified to practice, Nurse Practitioners hold national board certifications in an area of specialty and are licensed through their State Board of Nursing. Nurse Practitioners provide care in all 50 states and in many other countries, including Australia and Great Britain.


The present day concept of Nurse Practitioner, as a primary care provider, originated in the 1960’s, in response to a shortage of Medical Doctors . The concept was to help balance healthcare costs and correct the inefficient distribution of healthcare resources.  Today these remain pressing needs in our healthcare industry and Nurse Practitioners continue to step up to fill those voids.

Our beautiful mountain community exemplifies an area in which access to healthcare can be difficult. Economics, weather and geographic location are obstacles which sometimes make it hard to obtain healthcare services.    Nurse Practitioners and advanced practice nurses have been serving our community in various settings for decades.  Mountains Community Hospital has been designated a Critical Access Hospital which means the government recognizes the hospital as critical to provide inpatient  and outpatient services for the rural population and if its services did not exist, our residents may have to travel greater than 15 miles in mountainous terrain and poor weather conditions to get healthcare.


As a part of Mountains Community Hospital, the Rural Health Clinic has 2 Family Nurse Practitioners providing primary care to our underserved population, Cecile Dahlquist, M.N., F.N.P. and Andrea Eckstein-Fillers, M.N., F.N.P. Andrea and Cecile are graduates of U.C.L.A.’s prestigious Nurse Practitioner program and bring a combined 30 years of healthcare expertise to clinic.  In 2013, we will be adding Erin Welch M.N., F.N.P.

The Nurse Practitioners at the Rural Health Clinic have a heart for our mountain communities and are proud to be able to deliver quality healthcare in an area which is underserved. At the Mountains Community Hospital Rural Health Clinic, we offer primary care services including but not limited to acute care visits, well child exams and women’s healthcare.  We are also “Family Pact” providers which enables eligible woman without insurance coverage to obtain pap smears, screening mammograms and contraceptive services.

We consider ourselves partners with our patients and enjoy promoting healthy lifestyle choices and disease prevention through personalized health promotion, patient education and counseling in addition to many other clinical services.


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