Partnership expands women’s health care access

Kelly Borella outside of Cooper Green

By Erica Techo

Regular health care screenings and well visits with a provider are an important resource for personal and community health. In underresourced communities, however, there can be significant barriers to accessing preventive health screenings.

To improve access, the UAB School of Nursing has long partnered with Cooper Green Mercy Health Services to provide care to Jefferson County residents, regardless of their ability to pay. This partnership is expanding as Assistant Professor and Director of the Nurse Practitioner Pathway-MSN Kelley Borella, DNP, CRNP, WHNP-BC (BSN 2002, MSN 2005, DNP 2014), begins a new faculty practice in the Cooper Green Mercy Health women’s health clinic.

Borella previously worked at Cooper Green as a women’s health nurse practitioner before joining the UAB School of Nursing faculty in 2012 and said she is excited for the opportunity to return to a place and people she loves.

Many women who visit the clinic do not regularly receive health care screenings, such as mammograms or pap tests, and that hinders early detection of disease.

“From my experience with this patient population, many only came in when something was really wrong, once a disease process had really progressed,” she said. “Some things we might have been able to catch through well woman screenings, so in addition to providing care, education on early detection is an important part of what I will be doing at this clinic as well.”

Connecting with patients and taking the time to explain different aspects of care builds trust, Borella said, and can help lay the foundation for improved health.

“We’re trained as nurses to be educators, and that’s one of my favorite parts about being a nurse practitioner,” she said. “If you take the time to explain the importance of a medicine or a screening, compliance increases. By doing that, you’re also developing a rapport with your patient, and they know you have their best interests at heart.”

When patients do seek out preventive screenings, Borella added, they can sometimes face long wait times for an appointment. Her time at Cooper Green can help address this backlog.

“These women really are trying to get in so that we can provide necessary tests and screenings to catch these health issues and save lives,” Borella said. “It is important to remember that some patients come in for a women’s health issue but have other health concerns. If we can see these patients, we can connect them to additional resources and improve health care for a population that is underserved.”

In addition to patient care, Borella will train other providers in advanced procedures and the practice will open up a clinical experience opportunity for students.

“As a School, we are focused on providing care to vulnerable populations, and faculty practice enables us to take someone who is an expert in their field and provide care to our community,” said Associate Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships Michele Talley, PhD, CRNP, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN (MSN 2005, PhD 2015). “All of our faculty practices also provide opportunities for students to join and learn from an expert, and this will open a new clinical opportunity for them.”

Last modified on January 31, 2023

Upcoming Events