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Laura Jean Straight, 65, died on Oct. 9, 2019, in Bellingham, Washington. She was born to Mildred Irwin and Al Betmyeren on Dec.
8/7/2019
Hulstine hopes to provide health care to rural areas: Power of Wellness clinic opens in Ketchikan to serve the health and wellness of SE Alaskans
Mandy Hulstine and Andrew Richter sit on July 31 at Power of Wellness Health Clinic on Tongass Avenue. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek


By DANELLE LANDIS
Daily News Staff Writer

 Family Nurse Practitioner Mandy Hulstine opened her new Power of Wellness Health Services clinic on Aug. 1, and she shared her vision for her new practice during an interview this past week in her new location inside the True North Health and Wellness clinic, across from the main U.S. Post Office.

 “I love Southeast Alaska and I love the people of Southeast Alaska, and I’ve wanted to service them with medical care for a long time,” she said.

 Hulstine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, and has worked as a nurse for the past 10 years, mostly on Prince of Wales Island, but also in Ketchikan for the past two years.

 Her parents live in Klawock, and Hulstine said that her roots in Southeast made her excited to get back to work in the area.

Her vision, as stated on her website at www.powerofwellnessak.com, and on her Facebook business page is “To distribute health and wellness services enthusiastically, evenly, and ethically across Southeast Alaska.”

 She said, echoing that vision, “The philosophy of my practice, first of all, is to treat everybody the way I would expect my family to be treated, so I really try to carry forth that mission.”

 Hulstine’s husband, Drew Richter, is the “backbone” of her new business, she said. Richter is an Emergency Medical Technician II and a 68W Health Care Specialist in the Army National Guard. She described him as especially proficient in phlebotomy and starting intravenous lines.

 “It’s just really a symbiotic relationship,” Hulstine said of their partnership.

 Hulstine described her skills as spanning a broad range of ages and medical areas.

 “I do family medicine — birth all the way to death — many things in between,” she said.

 Among experience she has garnered, she listed telemetry, critical care, home health, primary care and outpatient skills.

 “I’ve been building kind of a foundation,” she said.

 Another mission Hulstine said she plans to focus on is to serve people in rural areas lacking in health care, by making home visits in those places.

“Really bringing wellness screening — routine medical care to people that would otherwise not be able to access it,” is important to her, Hulstine said. “So, that’s really the vision I have for my practice.”

She added that after her 10 years of working in many different nursing roles, she is prepared for the next step.

“I’m ready. I’m ready to do this and carry forth what I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” she said.

Hulstine, when asked what she loves so much about the nursing field, explained that “when you have a moment with somebody and you’re extending care to them in a way that maybe they’ve never had it before and you say things to them in a way that maybe they’ve never heard that before — it’s really powerful stuff.”

She went on to say, “and even to just know that there’s one life that you have impacted in some way, it’s cool. It’s really cool. That kind of stuff really sets my soul on fire.”

Her biggest challenge so far was navigating setting up the business end of her new clinic, Hulstine said.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces to running a clinic,” Hulstine said. “And to run a good clinic, a fair clinic, and honest clinic. A clinic that is all up and up and above board.”

The Power of Wellness Health Services clinic will welcome those who set up appointments in advance, as well as those who need a walk-in or same-day visit.

As she has moved into this new venture, Hulstine said she’s experienced a lot of positivity.

“I’ve had fantastic community support,” she said. “It’s actually been quite overwhelming and humbling.”

She said she’s even had people approach her in the community to tell her how she has changed their lives for the better.

“It stops you in your tracks,” Hulstine said, “because you oftentimes don’t think about that. You’re just going on autopilot and you’re providing that same level of service to every person every time and you don’t always get that feedback.”

Hulstine said she has structured her appointments to allow each patient one hour, unless the patient does not want that much time. She said she’s been dismayed to learn, at national conferences, that the average appointment is about 15 to 20 minutes.

“How can you do it?” she said she wondered when she learned that. “How can you learn details about people’s lives — the true foundation of sharing that human element with someone?”

She said many of the private clinics in Ketchikan follow the philosophy that she embraces, that patients need more time.

“There’s so many elements to health,” she said, and in only 15 minutes, the medical professional can only focus on one element. Hulstine said she believes all of the facets of a person and their life needs to be understood as thoroughly as possible to deliver the best care.

“Holistic,” Hulstine said. “It’s a word that kind of has a reputation, but if you think about the true meaning of it — the full body, the full person, all of it — that’s what we get with our extended appointments.”

Hulstine said Alaska is one of several states that allows nurse practitioners “full practice authority.”

“We do prescribe, we do diagnose, we do treat mental health — we do it all,” she said of Alaska’s nurse practitioners. “We do minor surgeries, procedures, you name it — we biopsy — tons of stuff.”

She said that authority is a real benefit in rural areas where access to doctors can be limited.

She also said that the American Association of Nurse Practitioners is working to make every state a full practice authority state, “because we are professionals. We are highly qualified and we should be practicing to our full potential.

Hulstine’s advice for people who may be considering a career as a nurse practitioner was, “It needs to be your passion. You have to have a genuine love for people.”

The biggest challenge of working as a nurse practitioner, Hulstine said, is “long hours — you go home worrying about people.”

Hulstine said she often talks with her mother about why she has such a passion for nursing and shared the heart of what she has told her.

“There’s no other time I feel more alive than when I’m there in that moment with somebody else,” Hulstine said. “It’s incredibly therapeutic, not just for the other person, but also for me, because — and it sounds kind of cheesy — but this is the type of profession where you feel like you’re making a difference in the world. Like you’re truly making that impact. I think a lot of us wonder why we are here, why are we put on this earth, and I just found it. It’s truly why I’ve stayed in it. It’s the people.”