One Small Voice
by Laura McGaffey
Articles originally published in "The Voice in the Desert"
Sunsites Medical Clinic
Since moving to Pearce my husband and I have gone to Mick Drage, a PA (Physician's Assistant) at the Sunsites Medical Clinic, for our health needs. He is a highly competent and supportive clinician. My husband, Thom, who maintains very high standards for medical personnel, tells everyone, "Mick is the finest DOCTOR I've ever known."
But when Betsy, the clinic receptionist, asked if I wanted to schedule a "well woman checkup" I chose to wait until I could find a woman to go to. I knew I would feel more comfortable with a woman. This meant having to go to Willcox for an appointment. After living here for ten months I still haven't gone. However, the clinic recently expanded its hours and Amanda Bennett, a Family Nurse Practitioner at the Sulphur Springs Medical Center in Willcox, is now seeing patients at the Sunsites Medical Clinic.
I recently spoke with Amanda and with Nita Buckner, the clinic manager for both the Sulphur Springs Medical Center and the Sunsites Medical Clinic. I learned that although Mick Drage is a Physician's Assistant (PA) and Amanda Bennett is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), they are both qualified and nationally certified to offer the same level of medical care. They are both trained in well-baby and sick-baby care, well-woman checkups and geriatric medicine. They even perform minor surgery. At Kaiser in California I was referred to an Orthopedic Surgeon when I needed an injection of Cortizone for tendonitis in my right elbow. Recently, when my left elbow developed the same problem, I didn't need to wait for weeks to see a specialist - Mick injected the Cortizone himself. The pain in my elbow was gone in a few days and the shot itself hurt a lot less too!
Amanda is a native of Willcox and has a Master's degree in Nursing from the University of Arizona. Her Master's thesis was titled "Preparing Primary Care Nurse Practitioners for Rural Practice: A Multi Disciplinary Generalist Role". She interned with Dr. Dawn Walker at the Sulphur Springs Medical Center, where Dr. Walker continues to be her mentor and collaborator.
Before going back to get her Master's degree, she worked as a Trauma RN in the Emergency Department of the University Medical Center.
In the clinic setting, Amanda provides her patients with holistic health care - looking at the whole person and treating all aspects of the patient, not just the ailment or disease. She is open to new or alternative approaches to healthcare that are not harmful to patients. She is drawn to the Sunsites Medical Clinic by the "strong sense of community" she perceives both in the patients she sees at the clinic and in the neighborhood. She invites everyone to "come see me" and I, for one, am going to make an appointment with her as soon as possible to get my overdue "well woman checkup".
With the addition of the new staff members, the Sunsites Medical Clinic is now open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to Noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. In addition to Amanda Bennett, there are now two medical assistants at the clinic - Kathy and Debbie. Dr. Singer, a semi-retired surgeon, is on duty Mondays and Wednesdays. Mick Drage, PA-C, is in on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays while Amanda Bennett, FNP-C, is in on Wednesdays and Fridays.