By Eric Heinz<br />Staff writer
Open wide and say “hello” to Red River’s newest medical facility.
Jessica Cross, the owner of Red River’s Main Street Medical Center and a certified family nurse practitioner, has renewed ambition in the field of medicine.
The health center opened Nov. 20.
Cross said she received her family nurse practitioner license about 10 years ago, but in order to receive those credentials she first had to become a registered nurse and then obtain a master’s degree in nursing. Cross is also American Nurses Credentialing Center board-certified, which means she has a national certification in family health care.
“We see wellness visits, we see sick patients, we see tourists who come up here and are sick and can’t tolerate the altitude,” Cross said. “We are getting our lab stuff set up so we can do labs here and send them off. We also do vaccinations and just a little bit of everything.”
Main Street Medical Center is privately owned by Cross, and she is the only accredited family practitioner at the medical center.
“New Mexico is a little bit more lenient than some other states. Some states require a physician present at a family nurse practitioner’s office,” Cross said. “New Mexico has a physician and health care shortage, but the state is excellent about taking into consideration the training of nurse practitioners and allowing us to see patients within our scope.”
Cross said the state recognizes the cases that nurse practitioners take on as well as the cases that need more specialized attention.
“As far as general health care goes, New Mexico is very liberal in allowing us to see patients, which is nice because we’re able to provide more affordable health care and see the complete family,” Cross said.
Cross said she is certified to take care of patients from the time they are born to when they are senior citizens — “the entire lifespan.” Basic life support, pediatric advanced life support and adult advanced life support are a few of the credentials Cross is required to have.
Cross said she is able to distribute medication as well.
The medical center is in the process of becoming accredited to accept Medicare and Medicaid health insurance.
“We did get approval yesterday that (Holy Cross Hospital in Taos) will be taking any transfers,” Cross said. “So I’m not over there at 4 a.m. making rounds on patients I’ve admitted. I transfer them to a physician in Taos. As soon as I get that letter in the mail, the final stages of what we call ‘credentialing’ from insurance companies should go into effect.”
Medical records are accessible with the written approval from a patient, so Cross is able to see at least some of her patients’ medical history.
Cross said the medical center works as a team with Red River Emergency Medical Services. Since the center opened, she said, she has been steadily busy, treating about 50 people so far.
“Anybody who lives in the Enchanted Circle, I give those patients a 20 percent discount because we all have to work together,” Cross said. “Here I see urgent care and non-emergency.”
Main Street Medical Center is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Cross said she is on call until 9 p.m.
“Cases such as broken bones and people who have chest pains or breathing difficulties we refer to Holy Cross to a more emergency-based system,” she said. “About 85 percent of the people we get, their immune systems are shot from the altitude. I worked some cases over the summer, but the EMS is really good at assessing who needs to go to Taos and who we can take care of. I would say about 5 percent we transfer.”
When she first moved to the Red River area with her husband, the couple opened the Black Diamond Grill near Red River Ski Area.
“I absolutely love what I do,” Cross said. “I was a nurse practitioner in Texas before we moved up here. When we were looking at the place, I didn’t want to leave behind what I love to do, which is make people feel better when they are sick.”
Cross said she hopes to grow the medical center so she can hire another registered nurse in the future.
“It’s been a work in progress for a while now, but I’ve finally been able to transition back into what I love to do,” Cross said. “Of course, getting the insurance system finished is going to be a big deal.”
Cross is expecting to have a baby “any day now,” and she said she hopes to be back at the medical center about Dec. 18 or 19.
“We’ll be back and forth, and we’ve got family who we’re hoping to have help so I can get back to work soon,” she said.
Cross said funding for the center is through the fees she charges for her services. She said she has not written for any grants, and because the center is a private practice she does not receive tax revenue.
“When you’re raised in a family of nurses, that’s just how it is,” Cross said. “You grow up hearing them talk about it at the table and things that normally gross people out. I’m an only child, but I have many aunts, most of them in the medical field. They took care of older family members who were in hospice situations. It’s just what you become.”
Cross said her husband was a nursing home administrator and also was raised by family in the medical field.
For more information about the health center, visit <a href=”http://www.redrivermedicalcare.com/index.html”>www.redrivermedicalcare.com/index.html</a> or call 575-754-6330.