After volunteering for St. Vincent de Paul Village in San Diego years ago as a tutor and then in the organization’s clinic, Ballston Spa resident Maurya Datka realized that she liked to help people medically.
So, while graduating from Skidmore College in biology, she decided to go back to school to become a nurse.
Over the past 20 years, she has worked in a variety of roles at Ellis Medicine, starting as a patient care technician in the emergency room in 2002. She earned her associate’s degree in nursing in 2005 and has been a registered nurse in the ER until 2017, before helping to open Primary Care Plus in the old St. Clare ER.
This is where she helped in the same day walk-in clinic until Primary Care Plus closed and moved to the Family Health Center where she continued to work in the walk-in clinic -you.
Datka’s experience in the ER and then the clinic made her realize the need for access and ensuring people have a primary care doctor, especially in areas that may be considered economically deprived.
Q: What was your motivation for getting people without doctors – people without doctors – to primary care doctors and keeping them out of the emergency room.
A: For me, the concept behind the walk-in/same-day clinic is to allow every sick visit to be a wellness opportunity. So you show up for a sick visit, but [we’d ask] do you have a primary care physician? Are you taking your medications? Have you had a physical exam? Have you monitored your chronic illness? It’s just a different approach that I think might be helpful after seeing her in the ER.
Q: In what ways do you think the health care system could better help economically disadvantaged neighborhoods?
A: I think the access is huge. It’s really about people, it’s about real lives. You’ve got a job, you’ve got kids, you’ve got a home, you’ve got a family, you’ve got finances, you’ve got school and then where do you stand in your health – you’ve got all these other things. Very often we worry about our health when things change, so having somewhere you can go when all of a sudden health becomes a top priority, having somewhere you can walk and hopefully establish yourself , I think in the middle of the community, I think is a place where we can help you.
Q: How do you help families get their children vaccinated?
A: It’s really just a group effort. Local health has people embedded in schools. All the nurses there are just trying to reach out to the families to get the kids to school, to stay in school. So we hold a vaccination clinic every September, with the Family Health Center and the residents here at the Family Health Center. We allow children who haven’t been vaccinated, they just come in — first come, first served and we get them vaccinated.
Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges you face on a daily basis?
A: I think one of the biggest things that I find difficult or frustrating about the state of health care and my job today is really the lack of focus or knowledge or education about the power of care. primaries. COVID really [put our focus] on acute issues and I think now we’re looking at the need for more ICU space, we need more ventilators, but so many emergencies like strokes, heart, respiratory issues, overdoses, there are so many details that led to this event.
Q: What would you say to someone considering becoming a nurse?
A: I can only say that I have met and been inspired by so many people, so many colleagues, so many patients and COVID has made many people rethink their decisions about their place in healthcare, but I have felt like it made me double up on mine. I know health care is an uphill battle in many ways, but like any other right, it is definitely worth fighting for.
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